Thursday, 30 July 2009

Chiropractors reap the internet whirlwind

The ever-excellent Ben Goldacre has an article in the Guardian on the response from the internet (and scientific bloggers in particular) to the on-going case in which the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) is suing the writer Simon Singh for suggested that some of the treatments of serious illnesses such as colic are "bogus". The word "bogus" is the key here as the infamous Mr Justice Eady (he of libel-tourism and many other dubious rulings fame) has ruled that the use of the word bogus implies deliberate dishonesty by the BCA and not, as Simon Singh claims, just that treatments are not based on any sensible evidence and therefore...well...bogus.

Anyway I digress (there is very good round up of the case so far here), the internet backlash has started as someone found out that there was an ASA ruling on this very subject that said such claims breached "truthfulness". Certain bloggers have then used this precedent to complain to local trading standards around the country and to the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) who regulate the trade about every local chiropractor who has a website containing these dodgy claims.

One amusing result of this is a panicky email (which can read in full here) from one chiropratice association, McTimoney, advising all their members to take down there websites ASAP and also to remove the use the the word "Doctor" from any literature or business cards unless it's made clear that they are not medical professionals as otherwise they may be liable to prosecution!

Ha ha! Right back at you! I just hope that Simon Singh goes on to win his court case and doesn't face massive costs.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Why is everyone one falling for the Cameron blunder spin?

Is it just me or were the use by David Cameron of a couple of "naughty" words not entirely a mistake?
I mean, he is a practiced PR man and the result of this so-called "blunder" has been wall-to-wall positive coverage of Cameron being a normal bloke who your man on the Clapham omnibus can relate to and also no doubt increased online views of his interview.

I bet if Nick Clegg said something similar the media wouldn't notice...

Monday, 27 July 2009

Bouncers and hospital staff allowed to issue fines!

In Henry Porter's Blog in the Guardian today he reveals that bouncers have been issuing fines in Norfolk without the knowledge of the local magistrates (and without any legal process) because the local police had accredited them to do so without consulting the magistrates or anyone else it seems. (There are also 8 staff at Addenbrooke's hospital who have been similarly accredited)

Apparently this orwellian "Community Safety Accreditation Scheme" was introduced in the Police Reform Act way back in 2002. I know the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, but did anyone notice this awful piece of legislation at the time? I certainly don't remember it. Scary!

Something else for the great repeal bill!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Google StreetBike in Siena

I'm back from my hols (sunny weather thanks) and I bring tidings of the Google StreetBike (well more of a tricycle) spotted in the historic Tuscan town of Siena. It seems that the rider needs a mate to help read the map and also to push him off (although you can't see this in the third picture this is what he was doing). Unfortunately I didn't manage to set up a surveillance feedback loop as before as others on holiday didn't seem to be that bothered by this chance sighting (shocking I know!) and wanted to move on and see the town. I suggested that we could walk alongside it and therefore be in all the pictures of Siena that it took but this idea was met with some resistance!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Firefox 3.5 is so slow to start up

Having upgraded from Firefox 3 to 3.5 (I have yet to try out the new porn^H^H^H^Hprivacy mode!), I am quite dissapointed to find that it takes about 45 seconds (!) to start up with little or no CPU usage in that time and then takes ages to shutdown with very high CPU usage.

After some googling, I found this solution that deals with the slow startup problem. Clearing the temporary internet files really did work for me, well it reduced startup time from 45 seconds to about 10 seconds.

I have found much discussion of the shutdown problem but no solutions yet...

Friday, 10 July 2009

The hell of Luton Airport

You may remember that "London" Luton Airport was introducing a £1 charge to drop people off, well, it has been introduced and predictable chaos has ensued according to this Times article.

To make this system work they have "re-engineered" the road system and it had been chaotic with tailbacks of more than a mile greeting travellers. The management said it could take up to "six months to clear the congestion caused by the new scheme"!

You should also read the comments, they are all depressingly true. A number of times I've had to queue down some dingy stairs and that was just to get into the EasyJet holding pen. The ceilings in the check-in areas are low and just make it depressing from the start.

We are due to fly from Luton in the near future, we are equidistant from Stansted (a nice airy airport with good facilities) and Luton but the times worked out better from Luton. I'd forgotten how grim it is. I do this everytime thinking it doesn't matter what the airport is like. As I get older (and the justified complaints from the wife get louder), I'm not sure I can keep doing this so hopefully I will engineer it so this is my last trip from Luton.

Just to give an example of the general shabbyness of the Luton offering, I looked into getting some foreign currency. Now it always used to be the case (thanks Fool) that the cheapest way (better than high street) to get currency was to reserve it online for airport pick up with TravelEx (they would guarantee current rate or better). I used to do this a lot from Stanstead and it worked very well until they replaced their TravelExs with TTTMoneyCorp (another dubious BAA deal to squeeze out more money no doubt). To be fair to them they seem to have improved their offerings and website so are now comparable.

However if you look at Luton Airport (and you can only find this out by interrogating their Flash terminal map), you see that their provider of choice is The Change Group who have an unbelievably shabby website form that doesn't tell you any information that you's like to know like what are the rates, are they guaranteed and will you be open when I turn up! If you wade through their T&Cs , you will find out that the rates are whatever they are when you come into the airport (inflated!), if you want to cancel a reservation you'll have to ring the shop at the relevant airport (very high tech!) and the opening times are...damn I can't find it now (very useful) but it said somewhere on their shonky site (the currency converter is still "under construction") that they were "normal opening hours".

Bah! Anyway, I shall report back once I have gone through Luton hell again.