Cameron hails Stoke Gifford Parish Council as “Most forward-thinking in UK”

Stoke Gifford Parish Council voted last night in favour of charging parkrun for use of the local park for members of the public to use for free. The PM has applauded the decision saying that it signifies just the start of some great savings that can be made by government. In a statement last night he said:

Councils across the country have huge bills for supplying services available for free universally to taxpayers. It is only fair and right that people shouldn’t have to pay for the bits they don’t use. Should blind people have to pay for cleaning graffiti? Should illiterate people have to pay for libraries? There are lots of very sick people in hospitals and that costs lots of money, why should healthy people foot the bill?

Parkrunner Julie also thought it was a great idea:

I got into parkrun because I was overweight and it was free so I had no excuse not to get fit. Now the council have changed this I can stay in bed on Saturdays eating chocolate guilt-free :)

The council said this is just the start and aims to have the lowest council tax charges in the UK. A Council spokesman announced:

Emptying dog litter bins is a messy and expensive job. People that don’t have dogs shouldn’t have to pay the “brown tax”. We will be replacing all dog litter bins with high tech bins that require dog-walkers to pay 50p in order to make a “deposit”.


Motorola MBP854 baby monitor

Yes, I’m blogging about a baby monitor.

It’s great, has a massive screen, remotely physically controllable camera, thermometer, streams to my phone when I’m at work, but still works in the house if wifi breaks etc.
Tonight we looked at the screen and thought, gosh, she’s really moving about a lot but not making a peep of sound. We muted the telly so we could hear if she was still breathing. That’s when we heard her distant crying coming through the ceiling. Poor little bugger was crying her heart out while we were downstairs calmly drinking tea. Seriously Motorola, what’s up with that? The volume on the parent unit was on maximum. Turning it off and on again solved the problem but I can no longer trust the device. Grr, I like all the features on it, but if there’s one job it must never fail to do… Grrr etc.

Anyway, I’m posting this here to find out if it’s happened to anyone else. Please post below if it has…


How I got over £1,200 from HMRC with this one simple trick!

You won’t believe this hack!

I recently got a cheque for over £1200 from HMRC for “overpaid corporation tax”. Wahoo! Free money!

Unfortunately, as much as I just wanted to cash the cheque and forget about it, I knew there was something wrong. After a bit of rummaging through my records I realised that the amount overpaid was exactly the same as the amount I’ve just paid to HMRC for my latest PAYE bill. I keep detailed records of everything I do so I noticed that I had decided to make that PAYE payment by direct bank transfer this month using Lloyds online banking. If you make a direct transfer to HMRC, it is important you set the transaction reference correctly so that they know what the money is for (PAYE, Corporation Tax etc.). My notes said I used the correct reference so I checked my bank statement and there was the mistake. It had gone to my Corporation Tax account reference.
I took another look at the Lloyds website for transferring money and clicked the help tooltip for the reference field:

lloyds bug

Yes. That’s right. Changing the contents of the reference text field makes no difference. If you’re transferring money to someone you’ve paid before it will ignore the reference use the reference you used the first time. The “solution” is to create another copy of the same recipient.

What are Lloyds playing at? They acknowledge “for technical reasons” (a.k.a. “someone screwed up”). Why bother adding that tooltip instead of disabling the textfield? I think this is a serious bug and had I not noticed it, I could have got in trouble with HMRC for not paying my PAYE in time.

Sort it out Lloyds.

How to compress a folder of .mov files

Made a bunch of .movs using quicktime’s screen recording but they’re a bit big? ffmpeg’s default settings when converting to mp4 is a quick win

for i in *.mov; do ffmpeg -i $i $i.mp4; done

Name them alphabetically and you can merge them all together:

ffmpeg -f concat -i <(printf "file '$PWD/%s'\n" ./*.mp4) -c copy merged.mp4

Generating a CMYK file for printing

So you want to print something (like a banner) but the printers have asked for it to be int the CMYK colorspace? Well we could argue about how to spell colour or whether CMYK is a colorspace at all. But I can’t be bothered, let’s just cut and paste this command which is what I came up with after a morning of hacking…

convert -resize 9520 -density 300 rgb_input.pdf +profile icm -profile sRGB_IEC61966-2-1_black_scaled.icc -profile SWOP2006_Coated3v2.icc -quality 85 cmyk_output.jpeg

Importantly, rgb_input.pdf was exported with scribus using the output mode for screen.

Here are some dependencies for you macboy:

brew install ghostscript
brew install imagemagick --with-little-cms
brew cask install xquartz
brew cask install inkscape
brew cask install scribus

You’ll find ICC profiles here.

Yes, this is another blog just for my personal notes ;)

Dell monitor wires

Dell U2515H and problems with a USB apple keyboard

Does anyone else ever have problems with this combination? They keyboard just goes dead.

I use the monitor’s USB hub to connect my keyboard and mouse. I then connect the hub to either my macbook or my linux pc and toggle the video inputs. Sometimes the keyboard just dies. When it’s in the broken state the following things are true:

  1. The keyboard doesn’t work for the macbook or the linux box.
  2. The keyboard does work for the macbook and the linux machine when connected directly to those devices.
  3. Restarting the screen or computers has no effect.
  4. Other USB devices work fine when connected to that port.
  5. The keyboard only works when connected to the monitor if I use the furthest port to the right (see photo). What’s so special about that port?


Dell monitor wires


Tapiriik not syncing to Dropbox?

My activities hadn’t been syncing to Dropbox for a while (since mid-November 2014).

This activity was not synchronized to the following services:
Dropbox: There was a problem indexing your activities on Dropbox, so no activities will be uploaded to Dropbox.

Everything else was syncing fine (Strava, Endomondo, Garmin).

A quick email to the author and everything is solved:

If you look in your Dropbox folder there should be a number of files with .tcx.summary-data extensions. Move those out of the folder and it should start working again – this is a rather ancient artefact of a mistake I made in Dropbox sync back in 2013, surprised it kept working as long as it did.



Delete any files with .tcx.summary-data extensions from your Dropbox folder.

*I only recently found out what that was short for. I’ve been ignoring it for years assuming it was invalid html markup.

Hemington 10k 2013 results

Yes, that’s not a typo, these are the results from 2013.

I’m just posting them here because I couldn’t find them on the internet. Managed to find a copy in my email though so thought I’d just post them here in case anyone else is interested:

Surname First Name Gender Race Category Race Number Finishing Time Position Position within Category Running Club
Ryman Paul M M 157 36.48 1 1 Frome RC
Sage Rich M M 114 38.56 2 2  
Wilkinson Darren M M 187 39.13 3 3  
Burns Matt M M 193 39.43 4 4 Southville RC
Plunkett-Cole Jim M MS40 365 40.04 5 1 Frome
McBeth Mike M MV50 181 40.13 6 1 Southville RC
Green Charlotte F F 143 40.39 7 1 Bristol & West
Hopes Chris M MV50 176 41.12 8 2 Southville RC
Blewitt Dan M MS40 196 41.17 9 2 Somer AC
Daniels Nick M MS40 164 41.25 10 3 Chard RR
Francis Alex M M 171 41.37 11 5 Frome RC
Taylor Neil M MS40 365 41.44 12 4
Jordon-Whittaker Sarah F FS35 170 42.00 13 1 Gillingham Trotters
Tilling Oliver M M 124 42.12 14 6
Holborn Joe M MJ 156 42.22 15 1 Somer AC
Merrick David M MS40 150 43.23 16 5 Somer
Layzell Sarah F FV45 175 43.36 17 1 Canix
Smith Andrew M MS40 96 44.38 18 6
Stringer Chris M M 158 45.07 19 7 Frome RC
Paine Kevin M M 174 45.16 20 8 Frome RC
Pemberton Emma F F 192 46.08 21 2
Williams Jonathon M MS40 137 46.29 22 7
Stockley Jamie M M 186 46.36 23 9 Somer AC
Brown Dan M MV50 110 46.53 24 3 TBAC
Hails Kate F F 177 47.02 25 3 Run 4 Fitness
Dunstan Stacey M M 126 47.10 26 10 Somer AC
Thistlewaite Naomi F F 191 47.23 27 4 Southville RC
Little Dayton M MV50 101 47.25 28 4
Branston John M MS40 129 47.36 29 8
Court Oliver M M 145 47.40 30 11
Hall Andrea F FS35 179 47.52 31 2
Hooper Katie F F 188 47.56 32 5
Clutterbuck Anna F FS35 113 48.01 33 3
Smith Kevin M M 97 48.09 34 12
Symonds Matthew M M 180 48.52 35 13
Myers Tony M MV50 155 48.56 36 5 Southville
Doel Esther F FS35 194 49.12 37 4
Rabbitts Des M MS40 162 49.20 38 9 Somer AC
Penny Lauren F F 172 49.52 40 6 Frome RC
Graham Cliff M MS40 189 49.52 39 10
Baker Stuart M M 125 50.04 41 14
Clark Sam M MJ 104 50.05 42 2
Phibben Lee M M 167 50.14 43 15 Southville RC
Betts Jacqui F FV45 182 50.15 44 2
Taylor Martin M MV50 178 50.18 45 6 Frome RC
Hunter Frances F F 160 50.30 46 7 Frome RC
Carr Simon M MS40 168 51.26 47 11 Wells City Harriers
Ellis Debbie F FV45 169 51.33 48 3 Run 4 Fitness
Darville John M MS40 127 51.42 49 12
Corbett Helen F F 159 51.48 50 8 Frome RC
Steele Christopher M MV50 173 51.55 51 7 Frome RC
Townsend Adam M M 184 52.07 52 16
Pearce Liam M M 141 52.22 53 17
Hunt Tom M MJ 151 52.34 54 3
Lewis Anthony M M 165 52.36 55 18
Mclelland Jon M M 166 52.36 56 19
Riddle Paul M MS40 134 52.40 57 13
Riddle Marc M MV50 153 52.40 58 8
Darville Mary F FS35 128 53.16 59 5
Clark Paul M MV50 106 53.17 60 9
Hedley Claire F FS35 111 53.42 61 6
Hamilton Jen F F 190 53.43 62 9 Southville RC
Green Chris M MSV60 95 53.49 63 1
Clark George M MJ 105 54.04 64 4
Probert John M MS40 109 54.26 65 14
Steward Hayley F F 144 54.33 66 10 Yeovil Olympiads AC
Andrews Thomas M M 132 54.36 67 20
Avis Trudi F FS35 136 54.44 68 7
Hall David M MSV60 123 54.52 69 2
Longhurst Winnie F FS35 133 55.12 70 8
Evans Emma F FS35 131 55.39 71 9 Frome
Box Jon M MS40 107 56.15 72 15
Gaffney Lucy F FS35 183 56.35 73 10
Soccorsy Adam M M 195 56.52 74 21
Wilmshurst Jonathon M M 112 56.56 75 22
Turner Alison F FS35 98 57.57 77 11
Harvey Denise F FV45 102 57.57 76 4
Lloyd Shirley F FV45 161 58.05 78 5 Somer AC
Jarrett-Scott Victoria F FS35 100 58.43 79 12
Moore Mark M M 103 59.55 80 23
Lake Jan F FS35 116 60.03 81 13 Frome
Caston Leila F FS35 400 60.06 82 14
Riddle Elaine F FV45 152 60.27 83 6
Scailes Julie F FV45 148 60.33 84 7
Martin Abi F FS35 197 60.35 85 15
Whittaker Frances F FS35 130 60.41 86 16
Rabbitts Alison F FV45 163 61.50 87 8 Somer AC
Plummer Margaret F FSV55 135 63.51 88 1 Frome
Parsons Caroline F FV45 121 66.24 89 9
Hodge Jo F FS35 115 66.50 90 17
Townsend Alan M MSV60 185 67.42 91 3
Sheppard Karen F FV45 149 68.54 92 10 Somer
Beauchamp Claire F FS35 122 75.50 93 18