Friday, 21 November 2014

Here's another reason to tell Brussels to go stuff itself...

They told Coleman's to stop making French Mustard.

...Colman’s French Mustard is now unobtainable, since they stopped the line after 65 years, following an EU competition law ruling in 2001 after parent firm Unilever also acquired Amora Maille. It was told to sell the brand or stop making it.

Source (not sauce!):

So, they stopped making it.

A brand that we'd had on the dinner table when I was a child - and which I'd come to know, trust, and even - dare I say it - love, and which I haven't seen on the shelves for ages. And now I know why.

Yes, I know that as an Englishman, I should prefer English Mustard, but ye gods, the stuff's a tad overpowering for the meat - it drowns out the flavour of the rest of the meal, and I find that all you can taste afterwards is the mustard! Which is why, when all's said and done, I preferred Coleman's French Mustard with beef.

Yes, there are other forms of French Mustard. There are even other brands, such as Heinz.

But NONE of them taste the same as I remember.

Brussels, my taste buds HATE you :-(

Yet another reason to tell those gravy-train bureaucrats to go stuff themselves!

* And yes, the title and suffix jokes were intended!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

R.I.P. Transport Direct, the most useful UK Journey Planner for ten years.

Transport Direct is no more. It's been permenantly deleted from the servers.

And I only found out AFTER the event.

To add insult to injury, they only gave us seven days notice that they were going to kill it off, too.

Transport Direct website closes on 30 September 2014
From: Department for Transport
First published: 23 September 2014
Part of: Making transport more accessible to all and Transport"


More than closing it prematurely, closing it was a travesty of good judgement: Here was a perfect example of a working, effective, USEFUL tool provided to the taxpayer at their expense, a shining example of prolonged and effective competency. And someone obviously got green with envy at this, and decided to remove this thing that offended both commercial concerns and all the ineffective and thoroughly incompetent Sir Humphreys of HM Government.

A truly sad day indeed.

It now takes on average, five times - or more - the time it used to take to plan jorneys, all because of one arguably questionable and definately damnably stupid decision.

By way of example, I tried planning a journey from the west country to south London for Boxing Day, using public transport.

Door to door wasn't possible, so a lift at one end (the south London end) from the station to the front door would be required. Luckily, at the other end, it was a five minute walk to the station. However, It just wasn't feasable by any reasonable measure.

The National Rail site said there were no available services on boxing day, and the main Traveline website petulantly froze up and did nothing. I had to use Travelines mobile web site to get any kind of result, and the journey presented was a nightmare lasting "7:34" hours. Compare this to the usual daily trip of around two and a half hours, and you get an idea of the scale of the journey problem. To be fair, there IS a shorter journey of "6:22" hours, but it's 8 legs long and involves four changes. Which is still completely bloody insane.

This was only the public transport side of things. Now I had to check the driving side of things.

For driving there and back, I do, at least, know the route I want to use. In my Land Rover, it takes about two and a half to three hours, depending on traffic and roadworks.

So, first check, a date-filtered look at No apparent problems were discovered from that source, so I guess the Motorway Coneheads were given the Christmas period off, for a change.

Onto the journey itself, and I decided to give the AA Route Planner a try. Fairly reliable, although you can't set the time and date of your trip in advance, more's the pity. Nor, unlike the now-defunct transport direct website, can you set the maximum speed for your journey - a major factor when considering older vehicles on the motorways. I stick to a maximum of fifty in my Series 3 Land Rover, for both fuel economy and wear reduction (both on the wagon AND the driver!).

Anyhow, the AA said 74.7 miles in about 1 hr 45 min. About what I expected, distance-wise, and horribly optimistic for the timescale they gave. Mind you, the London leg of the journey went through places I'd sooner avoid in an aged Land Rover, purely on the stop-start factor - I know the areas they wanted me to go through, and traffic lights breed like flies in those places. Not fun. So, new route needed.

Time to try Google. Google Maps has a useful feature,  where you can drag the route they suggest to avoid places you don't want to go,  or would prefer better than the route they suggest. It's a useful feature for people who know where the heavy traffic spots are likely to be.

After adjusting the route to follow what I knew would be a less aggravating journey,  they suggested it would be a 75.2 mile trip, taking 1 hour 41 mins. Like the AA, you couldn't set your maximum speed.

And there's the main problem with ALL the current popular offerings from the likes of Google, Bing, the RAC, the AA, and even ViaMichelin; not one of them allows you to specify what speed you would like to set as a maximum. They assume you will be doing driving along at the speed limit of all the roads you travel along. That's where Transport Direct scored points. It was light years ahead of the competition - and there's the most likely reason it got killed off.

The current Conservative Government is highly critical of government doing what the Tories think that industry can - or should - be doing. And then kills off anything it sees as competing - even if only slightly - with commerce (and don't get me started on what they're trying to do to the NHS). Even if the government offering is supplying a service to which there is no comparable commercial offering.

Transport Direct offered two things that commerce CANNOT give. Comparisons of different modes of journey at the same time, and customisation of results.

The DfT were insanely fast to kill off Transport Direct, leaving no room for appeal or question: They literally pulled the plug with hardly a word of warning to ANYONE. Their quoted reasons for doing this are dubious, to say the least. So, there were a few possible real reasons for killing off such a useful service to the tax payer.

One of the more intersting ones, is that it competed with commercial interests. I'd argue this vehemently, for the reasons noted above - if anything, it was a catalyst for commerce to pull their finger out and do something useful. Which they haven't, as yet. In addition, they're not likely to, either: The public transport companies do not share with each other, and they give their information to the government only reluctantly and under contractual obligations - for example, train and bus timetables. They'll publish their data and timetables, often in limited format, on their own websites, but share with the other kids in the playground? Not a chance.

Then there's the lack of a single source of information to compare the best journeys side by side, both public and personal - train/bus etc, versus car, versus cycle, versus walking, and so on. There is no longer a source for this kind of information, following the closure of Transport Direct.

There is, as a result of the somewhat smelly way they disposed of Transport Dircet, therefore no easy way of easily deciding which journey is best for you to undertake, without knowledge of what's availble to help you decide (not everyone is aware of the choice options, and tend to go to the easiest solution out there, even if the results are limited in the extreme). So, congratulations, Sir Humphrey. You've done as your political masters desired: Killed of something useful.

I can only say that this is possibly one of the most insideous decisions the government have made in a long time.

It should NOT have happened.

It was NOT in the public good.

It WAS arguably most likely spurred by Commercial concerns not liking the fact that government was providing a service they'd never even thought of, FOR FREE at the point of delivery.

Frankly, there will probably, eventually, be a service like Transport Direct with its' myriad options provided by some company or other. But for a fee.

And here's the thing: They shouldn't be allowed to charge a fee for something you've already paid for. Transport Direct was paid for you through your taxes, using information paid by you through your taxes, using trained programmers, computer personnel, and equipment from within the Civil Service - paid by you through your taxes. It collated information from the Highways Agency on road conditions, roadworks, and so on; it highlighted possible problems on routes, public transport, enginering works and so on, and provided options, all from information you'd paid for through your taxes. So, it wasn't technically free, as you'd paid for it already.

And they took it away.

With hardly a by your leave.

Now that's not right, is it?

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Not bloody happy.

Well, today was a write-off from about 2pm onwards.

That was the time I got back from the Council Dump (garden waste disposal), and began working on replacing a faulty part on my Series 3 Land Rover.

What got me pissed off? I had originally thought that it was the one of the shambolic :evil: moronic pea-brained halfwit cost-cutting round-spectacled office-bound HB-pencil-wielding financial times-reading ACCOUNTANT cretins (I don't hold the profession in much esteem, despite my late Dad being one) who cost-specified the parts and materials that went into a 1983 Land Rover.

But, it now transpires, it may well not have been the afore-mentioned penny-pinchers.

So, what set my temper to a dial setting of 4½?

I had the part. I had the tools. I had the time available and then some. I was in the mood for some easy, if time-consuming, electro-mechanical messing about. The sun was out, and it was shaping up to be a really nice day.

So much for that bloody idea.

I was about to replace the blower motor switch on the dash board of my Landie. I got the damn thing out (no mean feat), and was about to test the new one, when the combination Wiper/Washer Switch (Land Rover part number 579006) literally fell apart as I nudged an errant wire out of the way.




Seriously: It just took a brush past of a finger, and it fell to bits. The bits were now all over the ruddy floor of the cab of the wagon. And a simple job that should have taken no more than two hours, took my wagon off the bloody road until I can get yet another new part in, and fit it.

A part to replace something that was, it seems, made out of :evil: BAKELITE?!?!?!?!?!?!?! What the blue bleedin' hell?!

I swear to whatever deity you believe in, I was THAT sodding livid.

I wanted to know what kind of :evil: LUNATIC specified a fragile, frangible, degradable material like bloody BAKELITE for a vehicle designed to go boldly and roughly over the landscape, and which was built in the ruddy 1980s?! I was so angry I wanted to find them all, round 'em all up, and do unspeakably evil things that would have made the middle ages Spanish Inquisition run home to Mummy, screaming in terror. THAT'S how angry I was. :evil:

And just to add insult to injury, I had to go and order a replacement part AFTER the next-day delivery slots had gone, so my wagon was, and is currently, off-road until I can get a new part, and fit it.

Did I say how thoroughly bloody livid I was?

I was NOT bloody happy :evil:

A few hours later...

As I edit this Blant, I'm down to a slow burn, rather than a full-blown homicidal fury.

Having talked to a couple of people I know, it seems that the shattered switch may well have been an after-market part; in other words, after the Landie left military service, a later owner of the wagon fitted another manufacturers part: one not supplied to Land Rover by Lucas, the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) of choice for Land Rover at the time, but with something that is these days called a 'pattern part'. Pattern parts are components that are no longer made by the manufacturer of the original equipment, so can fairly safely be made by other companies without to much worry over legal issues.

By the time I acquired the wagon, this pattern part had obviously passed it's use-by date (to coin a phrase) as it shattered with barely a light touch applied in passing, so a replacement would have been required at some point in the near future anyhow so, best it shattered now, than while I was driving down the motorway in thick pelting rain, I suppose. I'm still angry that it shattered of course, but the alternative could have been much, much more problematic.

And I STILL have to order a replacement switch, dammit.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Statesmanship, shmatesmanship (on the West Lothian Question)...

I don't often rant about politics on here. It tends to be a very contentious issue with many people.


Mr Brown today accused the current Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron, of being unstatesmanlike. All, it would seem, because Mr. Cameron (whose party I did NOT vote for) is suggesting that Scottish Members of Parliament be barred on voting for issues that affect only those in England.

Really? This is what's blown Mr Browns kilt up over his head?!

Ye gods.

Mr. Brown needs to revisit the issue in question. It's called the West Lothian Question, and boiled down, says this:

The so-called West Lothian (or English) Question asks why MPs from the non-English parts of the UK can vote on all English matters, while English MPs cannot generally vote on Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish domestic matters (which have largely become the responsibility of the devolved bodies).

Source: (third paragraph)
Mr Cameron has already stated that he is opposed to a purely English parliament; I presume, because England is the founder of the Union (originally through conquest, as was the way that most countries in those days expanded themselves), we can't devolve ourselves from it. I guess that makes sense, in a somewhat cockeyed manner, though.

So, in the fullness of time, should Mr. Camerons ideas on English issues come to fruition, while the Houses of Parliament (including Scottish MPs) will still vote on matters affecting the Union as a whole, no-one but MPs representing English wards will be permitted to vote on those issues affecting only England - at least, that's how I understand his ideas; if I'm wrong, I suspect someone reading this might correct me on it!

In any case, it makes sense, really. MPs from Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland can vote on issues affecting their parts of the Union, and due in part to to devolution, English MPs cannot, so it seems only right and proper that those from non-English wards be barred from voting on issues that affect only England.

So, I'll ask again: What IS it about this issue that has Mr. Browns kilt over his head?

Is it possibly because he's no longer the PM, and can't set the agenda (in other words, if this is the case, then he's a sore loser), or that he just doesn't like Mr. Cameron (not unheard of)? Or is it something else less palatable (let's not go into the culinary delights of either side of the border!)?

Time will tell, I suppose, but in the interim, I would put it to Mr. Brown that it might just be that we, the English voters, know what we want for England, in the same way that Scottish voters know what they want for Scotland, and that maybe, just maybe, he should take the bloody hint, and keep his ruddy mitts of OUR damn country, and concentrate on the issues facing his, instead?

Thank you. I'll return you to the irregularly scheduled Blanting now ;-)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Time to find a new team to follow :-(

With todays announcement that Wasps Rugby Football Club is set to move even furter away from London, from Adams park in Oxford to Coventry, it has finally nailed shut the notion that it's "London Wasps" for all time. As a result, and because I live within the M25 belt, and am a firm believer in supporting a team from London as I'm a Londoner, I am having to find another team to follow.

There have been ups and downs over the last couple of decades that I've followed Wasps. I've enjoyed them all, for the most part (even the losses), but the new ownership of the club, under Mr. Derek Richardson, appears to have completely ignored the wishes of the fans who have supported the club through thick and thin, and whose gate returns helped, in whatever small way, keep the club afloat. In any case, the management decided that they knew best for the club (and would appear to have decided, on the face of it, to capitalise on the name of the "brand"). Well, maybe they know best, and maybe they don't. But they certainly alienated this former fan, and I know for a fact that they've done the same or similar with many others. This has been commented on by others, too.

So, enough is enough, thus it's high time for me to return my attention and loyalty to a club based in London.

The London rugby scene has shown some of the best rugby I've seen - with the possible exception of Bath and a certain northern team who I shall not mention (even if crying into me beer when they regularly - almost annually - pounded the trys out of Wasps in the Heineken cup!) - so it's going to be a hard act to follow. Of the remaining London teams, London Irish play in Reading, so are disqualified (even though I travel over to the area regualrly); London Scottish, well, I'm English (and don't like Haggis, and no offence to any Scots reading this!); so, this leaves either Harlequins, or Saracens.

Both are good teams, and both have had problems over the years, Quins with the infamous "bloodgate" affair, and Saries with their nomadic grounds last year. Both have managed to put those issues behind them. And both have hammered Wasps one time or another over the years.

It's going to be a hard choice as to which one to follow....

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Time to wave a placard in the air and yell: "Male Rights now!"... or is it...?

BBC News - Liverpool hairdresser bans women from Barber Barber salon

I think it's high time that someone took a stand for modern male rights, and this barber would appear to be the first to do so.

For me, it's the utterly tunnel-visioned mania of the feminist movement that grates. Let's look at this objectively for a moment. Having been treated like second-class citizens for a massive percentage of recorded history, women quite obviously have a damn good basis for wanting equality, and requiring that both society as a whole, and the the law, respects and upholds this - I agree that wholeheartedly. However, the way that the feminist movement, and certain band-wagon politicians, seem to imply that men-only places are bad and evil is rank hypocrisy on their part.

There are an ever-increasing number of places such as shops, gyms, and clubs that prohibit men from even being on the premises - I'm not arguing this, there's obviously a demand for such from women. And yet they're screaming blue murder about there being places that prohibit women from being on the premises, such as, oh, shops, gyms, and clubs? Hmm. What does that smell like to you?

Let's face it squarely: Without question, there IS a case for mono-sex places and establishments: At the most basic need, seperate public toilet facilities are a perfect example. In the broader sense, though, a bit of common sense is desperately needed, so, wether a stunt or dead serious, this stance by mens barber is a perfect example of why we neeed places where only men are permitted.

Politically Correct? No. Not even close. But Perfectly Sensible? Definately.

Carry on, that man!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

A manifestly unfair and draconian new procedure...

Police to seize mobiles in EVERY car crash via @MailOnline

Don't get me wrong: I understand why they will now be doing this, but it's also a dangerous move. My phone is literally my lifeline - I'm a former heart patient, and not having my mobile phone to hand could be the difference between receiving life-saving medical help, and dying. Further, it's more often than not the only way my relatives can get hold of me. It's the way I can access the internet. It holds immensely personal data on myself, my partner, and the contact details of all manner of people, businesses, and organisations that I know, work with, or do business with.

In short, it would be not only a personal disaster for my phone to be seized, but a professional one as well - all because some damn fool shunts me up the khyber because he wasn't bloody looking.

I appreciate that it's difficult for the Police and prosecuting authorities to gain successful convictions for certain offences, but this is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

I drive practically every day. I use my phone to navigate, warn me of traffic delays and congestion (satnav applications), and yes, to receive calls via my bluetooth headset (thus ensuring that I don't handle the phone when I'm driving), which IS legal.

Moreover, being a bus driver, I'm not permitted, BY LAW, to even use a hands-free headset or headphones, while I'm in control of a bus, let alone driving one (PSV regulations are much more draconian in this regard than for mere car and van drivers).

Yet, the old bill will seize the phone if some other bugger smacks me while I'm driving.

Patently, this is manifestly and grossly unfair.

Equally as obviously, it's treating everyone as being guilty before being proved so in a court.

So much for a cornerstone of English Justice, that of the presumption of innocence.

I wonder what it'll take for Liberty to get involved in this mile-wide paintbrush of draconian practice?

Monday, 21 July 2014

An Oxymoron for Fundamental extremists...

BBC News - Iraqi Christians flee after Isis issue Mosul ultimatum

Let's be clear: I am NOT singling out any one particular faith: ALL faiths and beliefs have fundamental extremists. The above news article demonstrates why I have a major issue with such extremist fundamentalism of whatever faith you care to name: "If you don't do what we, the (insert name/type/brand of Fundamental Extremism here) tell you to do, we'll lop off your bodily parts wholesale". The language tends to vary, but the overall theme is there.

Fundamental extremists do not give a tinkers cuss about tolerance.

Fundamental extremists do not give a tinkers cuss about freedom of expression or faith.

Fundamental extremists twist and utterly abuse the words of the faith they claim to follow to meet their own, frequently harsh, often horribly cruel, certainly irrational, excessively demanding, and narrow world view, and condemn those who do not agree with them to death, in usually a quite barbarous and inhumane manner.

Many years ago, I was told a very apropos oxymoron: "Kill all extremists".

I am not suggesting for one moment that this be done, but one can't help but think that there's some rather pointed irony in there, somehow.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Speed cameras & SatNav systems (part two)...

This is a follow-up post to the one below regarding Waze.

OK, as I got no response on the original posting on the forums, I posted a brand new thread in another section of the forums, and this time, got a response within about a day of posting, which was nice :-)

The bad news is that there is no way to suppress the pop-ups.

This leaves a massive problem, as while I like Waze, and find it incredibly useful, I cannot use it during the dark hours, as the pop-ups are a massive distraction - imagine a bright light coming on as you look down a dark lane, in the rain. NOT good, NOT safe, and, in fact, blooody dangerous. Someone at Waze would not appear to have thought this through fully.

The problem of the bright pop-ups in Waze is not that they're bright enough to dazzle - they aren't that bright. No, the problem is a distraction issue. The human eye instinctively moves to view bright light. As a result, your eyes move off the road, and you could miss that car pulling out in front of you, and BANG. T-Bone time. Not good, by any stretch of the imagination. The lack of the facility to stop or suppress those pop-ups is regrettable, to say the least.

So, it's back to using my paid-for application, Sygic. Don't get me wrong: There's absolutely nothing wrong with Sygic, or their business model: They produce a truly excellent SatNav package for Android, but I LIKE the concept of some of the features of Waze, such as the ETA notification, or even the progress tracking, that you can sent to others via text or email as you set out on a journey - it provides real-time reassurance that you're (1) on the way, and (2) of your progress along the route.Those are both very handy features that simply don't appear to exist in other SatNav applications that I have. But, without the ability to suppress the appearance of the pop-up warnings that waze gives, I personally find the application hazardous to safe driving at night, simply because it can distract you from looking at what's on the road to your front, which is potentially disasterous.

So, with regret, I'll not be using Waze at night; likely as not, I may wind up not using it at all, as it's far simpler to regularly use one navigation application on longer drives, especially if ypu're gping to drive past dusk into the dark hours. Which is when I prefer to do my longer distance driving, as there's generally less traffic.

So, if Waze introduces pop-up suppression, then I'll go back to using it at night. But not until then.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Speed cameras & SatNav systems...

In addition to a paid-for SatNav application (Sygic for Android), I also use other SatNav applications on my Android phone, including Google Navigation (part of Google Maps), and Waze. I also use the Pocket GPS World CamerAlert service, which I've found to be a hugely useful package;

Why do I use so many packages? OK, for a start, I don't use all of them at the same time - that'd be a little silly, really; likewise, I don't use them when I'm at work driving a bus - that'd be using my phone in the bus, and that's illegal for a PSV driver. I can, though, use the phone and apps in my car.

The paid-for app, Sygic, works using off-line mapping (the maps are stored on the phone, not downloaded from the internet on demand, so where there is no reliable 3G or 4G service, I can still navigate effectively.

Using Waze (which uses on-line on-demand mapping), I can navigate safely in the knowledge that fellow Waze users will update areas that I travel through, with traffic and hazard warnings. Interestingly it's also rather good at planning routes to my satisfaction as well - sometimes better than Sygic, which is a bit irritating!

The CamerAlert system I have running all the time I'm using SatNav apps; it sits in the background, and warnings me when I'm nearing "safety" cameras, and the database is generally updated on a weekly basis. It's never let me down, which is nice.

I've been using Waze for a month or so now; I've found it to be an incredibly handy free SatNav and social media application, but there is a major issue with it that is really becoming a potential 'dump it' issue: Its handling of Speed Camera alerts.

I've been a subscriber to the PGPSW speed camera service for a number of years (which I find very effective), and I see no point in discontinuing that subscription. I therefore tried to disable the camera alerts in Waze, with no luck what so ever.

The problem is that whether in navigation or merely roaming about, the alerts still keep on coming; at night, it's a HUGE distraction to suddenly have a bright (even using the night-time display) pop-up appear - especially as it consumes a quarter of the available display area (and I use a Samsung Note 3, so you can imagine how big that pop-up is). In the Android application there appears to be no way at all of disabling these warnings; more to the point, if I travel to parts of the EU, I may well be breaking some of the laws over there if I continue to use Waze over there. I can turn off my other camera alert package; I cannot disable the Waze in-app camera warnings.

These countries, at the time I last checked, prohibited point of interest (GPS) based camera warnings: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Ireland, Macedonia, and Switzerland; This means that if I drive in those countries, and use Waze, I may be breaking the laws of those countries, which could land me a hefty fine, possibly the confiscation of the equipment running the application (my phone), or worse. So, that stops me using Waze in those countries, which somewhat defeats the point of installing Waze in the first place.

So, I need to disable both the audio and visual components of the camera alerts within Waze. I've looked at every available setting, and the only one I can find is on the settings - display settings - show on map - speed cameras (on/off).

So, I've posted this problem on the Waze forums, with the following questions:

  • Have I missed a setting, or is there actually no way to prevent this otherwise excellent application from displaying these incredibly annoying and distracting pop-ups?
  • If there is currently no way of preventing such alerts, is a 'switch' planned to be added sooner than later? If so, when?

I'll update this post once I hear one way or the other from the other Waze users on the forum.

UPDATED in next post, 28th June 2014

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Kindle on Android - new permissions? Why? (Updated)

The following is an email that I just sent to Amazon Kindle support. It's self explanatory.

Dear Sir or Madam,
I have been a customer of Amazon for some time; I have also been a Kindle app user on my mobile phone for a while as well.

However, your recent update to the software is putting both of these in jeopardy of losing me as a customer, as they appear to be purely aimed at dredging out data and personal information to which you have no legitimate right.
Therefore, please specify why you need all the following application permissions for me to read e-books that I have paid for?

  • Device & app history - why do you need to know what applications are running on the phone in addition to the Kindle App?
  • Wi-Fi connection information - why do you need to view Wi-Fi connections? The phone can handle those quite effectively already.
  • Device ID & call information - Why do you need to see this personal information that has nothing to do with you? (read phone status and identity)
Thanks you for your time in this matter.

Here's the thing: It's a massive privacy invasion. Why? Because they're trawling for information that they appear not to have any legitimate need to know. The number of anyone you're talking to, for example "read phone status and identity").

They surely don't need to know the details of any wifi network you're on - suppose it belongs to someone else, and you're using it with the owners permission - does Amazon need to know this? Of course not.

Likewise, they don't need to know if you've been playing Angry Birds, or using a satnav, or whatnot.

Frankly, it's a symptom of several app producers over the last couple of years; those that haven't responded have found me no longer using their apps - I delete them. Those that reply, or state why they need addition app permissions on their Android Play pages generally keep my patronage.

The key here is openness. And Amazon have, to date, been remarkably closed about why they want these new permissions.

The only explanation that jumps to mind, is that they want to know everything about you, and as they haven't got a legitimate reason for asking for it, just add new permissions to the app, in the hope that you'll let them see your inside leg measurement without a second to review the new permissions.

I'll keep you updated on this once I receive an answer.


Well, Amazon replied while I was at work, so here's their reply. I've underlined the important bits, and my comments are below it.


We sincerely apologize about, first about these requirements when updating your Kindle app for Android, and second for all the inconvenience this may cause you. I fully understand your displeasure and I hope your satisfaction is our highest concern.

I know that this very disappointing to you but please be assured that we will not store any personal information from you nor get this information by agreeing to these requirements. The Kindle app just need to get access on these (Device and app history, Identity, Photo's/Media/Files, WiFi connection and information and Device ID and Call Information) so it will function well. These are the settings that mostly affect the app and we would like to ensure that the app will work best by requesting access to these.

As we've introduced this update, we are currently working on this Kindle app for easy access and better improvement of functions, thanks for bringing this to our notice. Please be assured that we will keep your account private and we will never get information from your phone----we value privacy highly above all else.

We are grateful to hear about this feedback that would help us improve the Kindle experience. Please be assured that we're continuously working hard to improve the Kindle apps.

Now your feedback about this was forwarded to the Kindle Development Team with the hope that their action on this concern will elicit a change in Kindle app update--I know they'll want to hear about your experience regarding this.

As with all of our products, we continue to make Kindle apps better for customers with regular software updates. As we've introduced a new software update recently, we are currently working on this update for easy access and better improvement of functions, as soon as this feature becomes available on the next software update, we will definitely let you know about this by emailing you or through our website.

Customer feedback like yours helps us in our endeavor to improve the service we provide, and we're glad you took time to write to us.

Thanks again for giving us the opportunity to improve. We look forward to see you again soon.

Please let us know if there is anything further we can do for you in the meanwhile.

Thanks for using Kindle.

Best regards,

OK. So as you can see, the meat of their reply is in the second paragraph, where they undertake not to access or store personal information and/or data.

The interesting upshot of this is that the Android Operating System appears to have some stability issues, if they need permissions like this to make a simple e-book application run with more reliably.

It'll be interesting to see how the yet-to-be-announced successor to Android KitKat fares.

In the mean time, I'm satisfied by both the speed of the Customer Services response, and the content of it, so I'll be updating my copy of the Kindle Android application.

It would have been MUCH better had they said this in the blurb for the app on the Google Play website, and hopefully, they're going about doing this as I write this, but at least the point has been made.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The party's now private: Three UK ends all-you-can-eat uncapped data for new contracts.

Well, I suppose the party had to end sometime. Three UK are not offering unlimited - excuse me, all-inclusive  - uncapped mobile data any more.

I went to their service for two reasons: Better overall coverage in the places I generally frequent, and All-You-Can-eat data, which was not capped in any way shape or form, so as to cut my comms costs in half, as per this blant entry.

Well, it's too late for you if you haven't jumped on that band wagon. They've quietly changed the bundles they offer. Now, if you want to tether your machine to your phone, there will be a 2Gb cap on the monthly amount of data that it consumes. As they say in their brochure on the topic:

Your data allowance can be used as a personal hotspot (we used to call this tethering) – if  you choose a plan with all-you-can-eat data, you can use up to 2GB of this allowance each month as a personal hotspot.

Note that they make no difference between the types of Wi-Fi or hard-wired tethering - excuse me, personal hotspot - or how they will determine this is occurring; presumably some form of monitoring software that you can't remove will be installed before you receive your new phone, as I cannot figure out, without some form of packet sniffing (where the content of what you are viewing is monitored in real time) occurring. As for sim-only contracts, who knows how they'll determine if you're tethered to a PC or not.

So, the party just turned private. If you're in, you've got it. If not, you missed out: You cannot get the One Plan-style uncapped contracts any more.

But here's the thing. If you're on one of the new sim-only contracts, and instead of putting the SIM card in a phone, you opt to leave it in a 3G or 4G-capable tablet or notebook, how the heck will they know it's not a phone? And will they cap you at 2Gigs?

I sure hope they got this thought all the way through, because somewhere down the road, they may well pee off someone with a law degree and a Bar certification, and as a result could easily wind up defending themselves for breach of contract.

It'll be interesting to see how this progresses.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A replacement for the Land Rover Defender...

As some may know, the Land Rover that a lot of us all know and love will be no more, come next year; in its infinite wisdom, the EU has decided that it's not pedestrian-friendly enough (it's too square, apparently) for when certain idiots on two plates of meat decide to walk into the road without looking.

A Land Rover, not a Freelander, Discovery, or Range Rover, is a square utilitarian box on four wheels, meant to be a powerful, rugged, heavy-hauling, four-wheel-drive go-almost-anywhere small truck. It is not intended to be pretty (although there is a certain bulldog-like elegance to it), nor is it intended to be all that environmentally friendly either. It must be able to withstand all manner of hard terrain, hard driving, and punishment that would put a similar class of vehicle out of play in five seconds flat. And that's where it's strengths, and the loyalty of its owners, lie.

But reality is, as one wag put it, a bitch. The EU has declared, and that's that. So the basic Land Rover, in it's fourth major version, the Defender, is soon to be no more. A replacement must be found.

So, Jaguar Land Rover (JRL) came along with the Defender Concept 100, or DC100 (Wikipedia entry here). They unveiled it at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011, and quite horrid it is too. Rightly, it attracted much commentary, mostly apparently rather negative. I tend to agree. The basic offering is, I suppose, fair enough, but the "sport" version is a complete abomination, in my view.

Here are the strengths of the current civilian Land Rover Defender:

  • Simple aluminium bodywork
  • Relatively easy to work on / repair
  • Strong - you CAN walk on the bodywork at a push, to get to the roof.
  • Easily customisable both internally and externally.
  • Takes a massive load in the back in the cargo configuration.
  • Comes in two main body lengths: Short and Long (90 & 110)

You can also add for the military versions of the Defender that it can be converted between a soft top and hard top with ease, very quickly with only basic hand tools.

So, any replacement should, indeed MUST, have these features.

The Wikipedia article references an Australian press article from 2012, in "Go Auto" (article here), where "Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern has revealed the next-generation Defender will bear little resemblance to the DC100 concept that emerged at the Frankfurt motor show (in 2011)".

That's something of a relief, but one must hope that the end result will be as attractive to current owners seeking an upgrade, as it may be to prospective new owners seeking a Defender-like machine.

In addition, the markets that JRL are seeking to placate and serve must also be addressed, not least of which includes the Americans, whose automotive import control regulations border on the insane, in terms of the requirements that they set, both mechanically and environmentally (not least in regard to recyclable parts percentages and emission controls); Then there's the EU mania about pedestrians trying to commit suicide by not looking where they're going, which was the start of this particular problem, to consider.

Well, here are a couple of thoughts, not that I'm likely to be the first to have thought of them... If the car must be more pedestrian friendly, consider plastics or polycarbonates in the bodywork. How about an extended crush-capable wrap-around front bumper in the visual style of the existing bodywork? There are a vast number of other possible solutions that can be thought of, I'm sure.

But at the end of the day, the final result MUST look visually appealing to existing and prospective owners alike, and MUST meet or even exceed all the hallmarks of strength, ruggedness, utility, and ability, that the current Defender possesses.

It's not going to be an easy task, and I don't envy them the challenge, but in order to maintain their reputation and brand loyalty, they must meet this challenge, run with it, and succeed, or a major lynch-pin of Land Rover will forever die.

And that is simply not palatable, nor acceptable.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

BBC Magazine article: "Which should come first - cheese or pudding?"... a considered response...!

Every so often, the Beeb tends to publish somewhat thought-provoking and even contentious articles, designed to incite debate. At least, that's their stated intent. This time however, I'm not at all sure if their tongues were either well inside their cheeks, or intent on setting others tongues (mostly those belonging to members of the middle and upper class) wagging vociferously.

In a formal and traditional middle and upper class setting, when someone says that something is Just Not Done, attention should be immediately be paid in full to what it is that they're talking about. Now, someone saying that something "Just isn't Cricket, Old Boy", is saying that something isn't fair, or has been deliberately improperly performed - not adhering to the rules of the game, so to speak.

But "Not Done"? Wow. This is the sort of comment that results in cups of tea being spilled. They see transgressions of established tradition as being the cornerstone of the Fall Of Empire, or some similar level of horror. You get the idea: Indignation unbounded by reason.

And in this case, it's all about the format of the formal dinner setting...

Here's the thing. It seems that a certain food writer, who appears on the face of things to be something of a progressive in these things, and who appeared on a BBC 2 programme last night, has said something so shocking, so subversive, that society as a whole could be set on the verge, nay the cusp, of complete and utter social disarray...

So, what was the comment that set right-minded civilisation on the edge of annihilation?

That the dessert course should be the last course in a formal dinner, not the cheese course.

"I'm sorry. She said WHAT?!"

For those who have never even heard of the formal dinner format, here's a couple of points to note. Formal gatherings of people of note - normally royalty, politicians, high society, and similar - have evolved over the centuries, and came to the peak of their development in the Victorian Era. They've pretty-much stayed in the same general format ever since; this format is known the world over, and despite regional variations, is fairly similar wherever you go, these days.

A formal dinner was the pinnacle of this high social one-upmanship "my brass thing's better than your brass thing" system, and while the reasons for the meals may have gone from childish faux Public School-like shoe-size mentality bragging, to more mature themes, the events themselves are no less special.

These days, a formal dinner is a structured meal, normally held to honour a distinguished guest, or to celebrate a special event, or what have you, where all the participants are on their best behaviour, and dressed to the nines in high formal wear.

So, if you've seen any period dramas on the television, such as "Upstairs Downstairs", or "Downton Abbey", or watched high society documentaries and such like, they've featured in those a fair bit, so you should have a fair idea of the format involved.

I've been to a few, mostly when I was a Territorial Army soldier, which were either the Company Annual Camp Dinner (not too formal, but where smart wear, such as a decent suit, is required), or the Regimental Christmas Dinner, where the appropriate formal uniform was generally required (somewhat appropriately, it's called "Mess Dress").

I've also been to a couple of civilian formal dinners over the years, most recently my Company's Annual Awards Dinner (where I rather proudly received my 10-years long service award. Good God. I've been on the buses for TEN YEARS?! Wow. Ahem. Moving back on topic again, now...).

The - ahem - HESH-tab-eh-lished format...

So, what goes into a formal dinner? Well, it depends on the length of the meal, or in how many courses - parts - the meal is to be served. The average number is five, but your meals may vary upon the event and the organiser(s) involved.

Here's a fairly typical five course format in the civilian mode, Regimental ones being ever-so-slightly more involved and formal (understatement) occasions...

  • Starter
    A small dish, to get the appetite moving. Normally a consommé (a clear, light soup), or maybe a pâté of some type on some form of crisp bread or toast.
  • Fish
    As it says: This is a small serving of fish, normally with a few appropriate vegetables.
  • Main
    This is (pun intended) the meat of the meal. Red or White meat, with the appropriate vegetables and sauces, if required.
  • Pudding
    The sweet, or dessert, course.
  • Cheese
    A selection of cheeses, served with water or dry biscuits. Coffee will normally be served at the same time, as well.
There are also conventions - accepted rules - on what kinds of wines to serve with certain courses - fowl and fish, for example, are almost always accompanied by white wine, with beef, gammon, and other red meats being accompanied by red wines.

Port, a fortified wine, is normally served after the cheese course in more formal dinner settings (there are clear, if slightly strange, traditional rules regarding how it is handled once at the table, the origins for these rules having being lost in the mists of time).

The rocking of the boat...

So when Mrs. Berry made her comment, traditionalists were aghast. The monocles of many of those dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists probably rocketed almost explosively out of their sockets at the speed of sound. Cups of tea were certainly spilled in utter shock and horror!

They think the idea of serving the cheese before the dessert - or "Pudding" - course, is akin to passing the Port to the right at a Regimental Dinner - One just Does Not Rock The Boat of tradition in that manner, in those social circles - it's Just Not Done (spot the capitals and italicisation there).

On a more practical note...

There's also, I suspect, a more reasoned cause for the dropped optical aids at work here. In traditional formal dinners, the cheese course is accompanied, as mentioned above, by the Port. It is at this time that various brief speeches and toasts are given to the assembled high muck-a-mucks. It is far easier - and eminently more practical - to pause chomping in a cheese course, than it is in a pudding course. Cheese is already cold - certain desserts - puddings - are not. All things considered, probably the last thing you want is for a properly cooked and delivered dessert to be ruined half-way-through devouring it, because you had to stand during, for example, the Loyal Toast. Cheeses are much more forgiving, in those circumstances, after all.

So, for my money, Pudding Before Cheese. Always.

And to hell with the Progressives!


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

I'm often asked...

"Why do you drive that prehistoric lump?"

They're referring to my ex-MoD (Army) Series 3 109" Land Rover (Military specification). It was built in 1983, and spent ten years with the Territorial Army, before being 'cast off', and eventually sent for disposal at auction. I'm it's fourth civilian owner.

Why do I own it?

  • It's a bit of history - I drove one when I was in the T.A. back in the 90's.
  • It may not be fast (even going downhill with a tail wind), but it's a fun thing to drive, being a go-almost-anywhere vehicle.
  • It's easy to find in car parks - it's camouflaged, not shiny, and therefore stands out... well, that and being a bit taller than you're average seventy-thousand quid footballers SUV plastic toy  
  • I use it for my Living History hobby, not just because it can carry all the I use over the course of a weekend at one of those events, but as part of the display stand as well;
  • It's because there's a fellowship of sorts between Land Rover owners, as we tend to wave to each other on the roads (it tends to be Series and Defenders who are this friendly, in the main, although Discovery and Freelander owners get the occasional look-in as well), go to specialist events (the much-attended Newbury "Sort Out", as it's known to many, comes immediately to mind), and run clubs for each other of many flavours (there are generic Landie clubs, Series Landie clubs, Ex-Military Landie clubs, Lightweight Landie clubs, and so on and so forth);
  • and oh yes, the insurance tends to be cheaper for older vehicles as well.

But most of all?

It's relatively cheap - and easy - to maintain yourself; you don't need a degree in computer engineering, or any overly expensive or complex tools, to perform routine maintenance on it. Just a willing pair of hands, a little knowledge (Haynes car maintenance manuals and other similar publications), and maybe the help of a willing friend or three every so often, and that's that - job done.

There's a saying in Land Rover owner circles: "The Job's NEVER done!" What do we mean? It's simple: Once you've cracked it, and got one maintenance task done, another rears it's sarcastic head, and beckons you forth to smack it on the head with a deadfall hammer. Or a breaker bar. Or both. Simultaneously (that's called two-fisted engineering, by the way).

So having owned this wagon for the best part of a year and a half now, what have I fixed, or had help with fixing?

  • Exhaust manifold replaced (cracked and then some).
  • Carburettor replaced (leaking float and gaskets).
  • Sump gasket replaced (leaking).
  • Rocker cover gasket replaced (leaking).
  • Oil changed.
  • Oil filter changed.
  • Replaced broken speedo cable.
  • Offside door top replaced (rusted to and then some).
  • Added cigarette lighter socket (to power my phone and other electrically powered accessories).
  • Replaced faulty indicator switch.
  • Replaced over-powered halogen headlights with more normal specification-compliant 7" sealed units, the halogens having created the problem with the indicator switch in the first place, by drawing too much power through it and causing the plastic frame of the switch assembly to warp as a by-product of the heat through the electric contacts of the headlight/beam switch (it's a weird lighting circuit path in a Landie).
  • Removed spare tyre from top of hard top roof, where it was bending the metal of the roof and rendering it somewhat less than waterproof at the joints.

The list of lesser problems and pending fixes goes on a fair bit, but the above are what I, or my mates and I, have dealt with thus far. And since no good deed ever goes unpunished, as soon as we fix one problem, as mentioned above, another crops up - the latest is a serious one: The water pump is about ready to fall over .

This last one is going to take at least a day to fix, as the radiator really has to come out first, before you can get to the water pump, which is behind the radiator fan, alternator, and associated gear at the front of the engine. And oh yeah, you have to completely drain all the coolant out first, which cannot be poured down a drain as it's toxic, so has to go to a specialist dump. Wonderful.

Remind me.

WHY do I drive this prehistoric lump?

Oh yeah.

Because it's fun.

I must be bloody mad!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Are Liberty goping after the WRONG targets (again)...?

I saw this on Twitter today, and it rang a bell.

I see protects civil liberties and promotes human rights for everyone... unless you're a officer.

Sadly, I can see what he's driving at. Liberty was created to ensure that all people on this small planet of ours receive the same Human Rights and treatment from their respective governments, authorities, organisations, and fellow Human Beings. However, over the meany years since it was created, Liberty has made announcements and policy decisions from the sensible through to the (to me) utterly bazaar.

Now, personally, I find it rather strange that over the last few years, the only times I've ever heard anything either about or from Liberty (mostly via the popular press, admittedly), is when they've been doing something or other in places where the chances were better than even that the local (most likely) despotically lunatic regime isn't about to grab 'em by the scruff of the neck, and sans a fair trial, tie a blindfold over their heads, line 'em up against a convenient wall, and summarily shoot them in the back of the head for "subversive actions against the state". Odd, that. Understandable, in that they, like the rest of us, don't want to see the back of their collective heads part company with the rest of their skulls, but still a bit odd, given Liberty's original intent to spread the word of Human Rights.

After all, you'd be forgiven for thinking that their much-publicised efforts would be needed the most in places like those, not back here in Great Britain, where democracy - despite it's many fully acknowledged faults - already works, where our rights are already enshrined in law and regulations, and where, despite the financial burden on plaintiffs, recourse to inhuman treatment, and (for sake of example) recourse to libel and slander is available to all who can afford it through the courts system.

With the above in mind, don't they think their efforts and monies (gleaned by donations from the public, who DO want to see a better world for everyone) would be better spent on, for wild example, halting the ultra-right-wing efforts of certain persons and organs of the state in Russia, from tramping down the rights of certain sections of their own citizenry, instead? Oh yeah. It's probably because that same former communist state'd probably arrange for them to receive a kick in the groin, then several savage stamps on their heads, with steel-capped combat boots. Naturally, said treatment would not come from official sources. It'd be blamed on over-enthusiastic minorities. Who'd never see the inside of a courtroom for their actions.

Just saying, of course.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Hmm. Public versus private blogging...

Well now, isn't this interesting; being so busy tends to interfere with your reading habits from time to time. Here's a case in point...

It's been a couple of months since I looked at a couple of blogs that I marked to be followed on Blogger, and one of them appears to have become private to invited readers only in that space of time. Needless to say, I wasn't invited.

Fair enough, you might say, it's his blog, and he can do with it whatever he wishes. You're absolutely correct, and since I don't actually know the guy personally, not receiving an invitation to read it is not the end of the world. It's irritating, but that's all. It's nothing to get het up over, or scream about from the rooftops (better not do that, they're well slippery this time of year, and the fall's got a real nasty sudden stop at the bottom).

However, this all said, there's a problem. Since it's become a private blog, and I'm not on his white list to read it, I can't reset the administrative feed instruction within my Blogger 'control panel' to unfollow the damn thing. It's a design flaw within Blogger, of course.

So it's sitting there, irritatingly taking up a slot on my 'followed' list, and I can't read whatever he may be writing. It's a shame, really. I'll miss his use of the language, as it was absolutely magnificent: He had a way of being able to capture a moment in time practically poetically, and in such a way as to cause you to empathise with his world view. There aren't many people who can do that, so it's all the more unfortunate that he's restricted access to his blog.

However, think I have a fairly good idea as to why he made his blog private, and it relates to the last entry I was able to read, before he made it private. I won't comment in any detail at all about the subject matter, but I will say that it was unfortunately open to excessive misinterpretation, which for someone with such a good command of the English language was a shame. The upshot though, is that in these Politically Correct (or is that Politically Charged? I think the latter, in this case) times, it only takes one misstep, misspeak, or a poorly-worded publicly-spoken opinion, and the world and it's pet of choice comes along to crush you down to microscopic dust. And I think that's what may have happened here.

So, he's taken what is most likely the most prudent course, that of keeping what he has to say to a rather exclusive audience from that point on. Fair enough, it's his right, and who am I to challenge it, given that it's a right to privacy?

But it does, however, leave that irritating entry on the 'Followed' list that I cannot remove.

And that IS worth running around in ever-decreasing circles and shouting - or in this case writing - about.

Every so often, a nice day comes along!

This will sound like a sponsored advert, but it's not - I'm genuinely enthusiastic about the place I'm about to tell you about!

With that caveat out of the way, onto the meat of today's entry!

Being a late shift bus driver tends to mean that most of my free time is to be had when most sensible people are either at work, or asleep in bed. This kind of puts the kybosh on having a vibrant and active social life, but we have to find a way to pay the bills somehow, after all.

However, once in a blue moon, I actually like to be able to get off my backside and do things, like braving central London to buy certain stuff (in today's case, a new backpack for the Living History hobby I enjoy), or hit a pub with friends, or whatever. Generally, this'll happen when I get a pair of rest days back to back, and get to reset my body clock to daylight hours. I'll then have time to do things while there's a smattering of daylight to be had on the second day.

Such a day was today, and for once, everything seemed to gel together nicely. The buses arrived just after I got to the stops, so no waiting in the cold was suffered; I didn't miss the trains (again, no waiting in the cold was suffered), and the shops had what I wanted - and I also got to do something I've been meaning to do for some time, which was visit a certain style of fast food shop...

Probably the best fast food shop in London!

"Herman Ze German" is a newish fast food business. It's the German equivalent of a fish and chip shop, but instead of fish, it serves up German Sausages and Chips; I was lucky enough to sample this form of Schnelleimbiss (literally, "Fast Snack"), as I was told it's called in Germany, back in 1993, when I was over there for a shooting competition on the Territorial Army's time and expense; I acquired, at a shop in Hamburg, in one marvellous mouthful, a taste for Brockwurst (yes, that's the spelling I used - apparently there are arguments over whether it's spelled "Brockwurst" or "Bockwurst". Go figure!), which is smoked and slightly spiced pork sausage. The closest we come to over here is Cumberland sausage, and really, that isn't even in the same class as a proper Brockwurst.

So, when I learned a couple of years ago, that a Schellimbiss shop had opened up in London, I made a note to visit it the next time I was nearby. Well, it took a while, but it was worth the wait!

There are two Herman Ze German branches at the time of writing this; the first is on Villiers Stret, opposite the eastern stairs exit to Charing Cross railway station, the other, more recent addition to the firm, is their branch on Old Compton Street in Soho.

I visited the Villiers Street shop shop just after the lunch time rush was over, at around 2pm or so; the shop was still doing a regular trade, with people popping in and out while I was there. The staff, two pleasant young ladies, were friendly, professional, and seemed to be genuinely happy in their work - that's a rare and pleasant thing to see in a fast food shop these days!

I'm sorry to say that I didn't take photos of the food, as I was too busy scoffing it down my throat (it almost failed to hit the sides!), but wow, it tasted good; the sausage was the right temperature, consistency and taste. The fries, or "Pommes Frites", were incredibly crisp, and hadn't got a trace of the sliminess that so often curses our own chips that we get from fish 'n' chip shops, and with mustard on the sausage, and mayo on the chips (Europeans tend to put mayo on chips, not salt and vinegar, that's a British perversion!) things could only get better - which they did!

To add to the excellence, the coffee, a 'Plain Flat' (British style white coffee) was absolutely bang on - right colour, temperature and flavour, and with just a hint of the bitterness that all good coffees should have (if you aren't having a snack, at least go for the coffee - it's that good!)

It all combined to bring back some very good memories from days when I was much younger, lighter, and fitter! Needless to say, I'll be calling in there again, the next time I'm near Charing Cross!

Herman Ze German has a web presence at, so you can find out more about the menu and the firm; personally, I'd highly recommend a visit - your stomach will thank you!


(OK, sorry, but I couldn't resist!)

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Justice must be seen to be done, or society as a whole suffers.

Amanda Knox has been hitting the headlines of late for the murder of Meredith Kercher, since her conviction for murder was reinstated in an Italian court, after a retrial in which the evidence was closely reviewed.

Just like the most courts in the western world, this was a transparent, fair, and unbiased retrial, following a fair, balanced, unbiased and transparent trial and its resulting appeal.

The guilty verdict therefore, is fair and just.

The US, like most countries, refuses to extradite its citizens to other countries if there is a possibility that a death penalty might be imposed. That's quite reasonable, and very understandable.

In this case however, there is no chance of a death penalty being imposed whatsoever. Unlike the US court system, in EU countries, of which Italy is a member, there is no recourse to a death penalty - right or wrong, and there are many opinions on the topic, life imprisonment is the maximum penalty permissible in the EU.

Therefore, there is no reason that Knox should not be locked up in Italy. Yet, she's publicly refused to go back to that country. The only recourse to this cowardly behaviour is for a warrant for her extradition to be issued by the Italian courts.

If the US then fails to honour, or permit, that extradition, then punitive action should be taken throughout the EU: For instance, the UK-US extradition treaty, which many have said is unbalanced in favour of the US to the cost of British subjects, should be torn up, and the members of the EU should follow suit by tearing up their own extradition treaties with the US.

Yes, this will cause one hell of a diplomatic ruckus, but the point MUST be emphasised with a hell of a lot more than politely worded letters of complaint, which invariably have little or no effect. Instead, as the US tends to understand grand gestures, since it tends to make them a lot, a set of EU-wide grand gestures with some actual meaning and effect and teeth, which tearing up these treaties would have, should be ready in the wings, should Knox fail to be extradited to face her sentence.

In the final analysis, it must never be forgotten that an innocent British subject, Meredith Kercher, was murdered, and that the Italian courts have found Knox guilty of that horrendous crime. Justice MUST be seen to be done, or society as a whole suffers. Knox has had her trial, her appeal, and her retrial (this last in absentia). As a now convicted murderess, she must now face the consequences of her actions - her sentence.

There can be no alternative.

Footnote: This will be hardly a surprise to anyone, but according to reports in the media, apparently she's planning to appeal this fresh affirmation of her conviction. It remains to be seen if this will succeed or fail.