The Anonymous Widower

Power to the People.

David Cameron is proposing putting details of a lot of Government expenditure and plans on the Internet, so that anybody with time on their hands can scrutinise it. It is an idea that I totally approve of.  In fact, I think we need a lot more information there, so that people can have statistics to back their theories; conventional or not!

November 8, 2010 Posted by | Finance, News | , | Leave a comment

Don’t be Conventional!

On the BBC tonight, they had a program about a pilot who in the Second World War used to insert and extract agents of the SOE into German-occupied territories. One of the aircraft they used was the remarkable Westland Lysander, which although it wasn’t too good at its original job of Army Co-operation, was a superb aircraft to sneak in and out under the noses of the Germans, due to its slow speed and superb STOL performance.

But then the Second World War had its fair share of what could be described as unconventional aircraft.

The Mosquito didn’t look unconventional, but who’d have thought that an unarmed bomber built out of wood, would have been so successful. It was just that because it was light, aerodynamically efficient and could carry the same bomb-load as a B17, it could get to its targets fast and return.  In fact Mosquitos often bombed Germany twice in one day. 

But the theory of the heavily-armed four-engined bomber prevailed and we lost 250,000 aircrew bombing the Nazis, as did the Americans. Mosquitos incidentally had a much higher return rate and it could also be argued that because they were so much more agile and fast, they could have hit strategic targets, like ball-bearing factories, morning, noon and night. So there was also a moral case for using de Havilland’s wooden wonder.

The Mosquito is probably the only Second World War aircraft, that has a legacy in modern designs.  Bombers these days are not armed and British ones haven’t been for some decades.  This is because de Havilland’s fast unarmed concept was shown to be so superior, to any armed one. But the biggest legacy is in the wings of Airbuses, which like the Mosquito are glued together, rather than riveted.  You can trace the technology back through Tridents and Comets to the Mosquito and before that to the Albatross.

Supermarine is well-known for the Spitfire, but another of its products was the distinctly unconventional Walrus, designed like the Spitfire by R. J. Mitchell. It was an amphibious aircraft that could be lauched and recovered from naval ships like cruisers and battleships, but it found its major use in picking up downed airmen out of the sea. This maritime-rescue role has been taken over  by helicopters, but perhaps the role could be handled better, by a modern fixed-wing aircraft of unconventional design. The Americans have experimented with using Lockheed Hercules and pick-up systems, but nothing sensible has emerged.

The Americans too had an unconventional amphibian, the Consolidated Catalina. Like the Mosquito, the Cat seemed to revel in every task thrown at it. But unlike the Mosquito, you can still see a few examples flying.

And then there is the Swordfish or Stringbag.  This aircraft was probably obselete when the war started, but  went on to sink large amounts of Axis shipping. The Swordfish also destroyed a large part of the Italian fleet at the Battle of Taranto.  Was this battle the blueprint for Pearl Harbor? The Japanese certainly gave what the Fleet Air Arm did with a handful of obselete bi-planes more than a cursory glance!

I have always thought unconventionally!  It has never done me any harm! Although it’s got me into a few scrapes.

November 8, 2010 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Living Alone

This is not a moan, but today, I’m having supper from the freezer, as the fridge is getting empty.  The reason is that the weather is so awful, that I really didn’t want to go into the shops today.  I will have to tomorrow, as I’ll be out of bread and milk by lunchtime.  As it happens, I won’t be here then, as I’m going to London, unless the weather is really bad again, in which case I’ll go to Cambridge and then take the train from there to the football.

It will be so much better in London, as I can walk to a couple of decent pubs and if it was raining, I can even take a bus somewhere warm and nice.  Not that my kitchen isn’t warm and nice.  It’s just that it’s lonely and I have to do the cooking.

But that is not really cooking tonight, as I’m just putting a Waitrose Indian meal in the oven.

November 8, 2010 Posted by | Food, World | | Leave a comment

Miliband is Very Much Old Labour

Congratulations to Ed Miliband and his partner, Justine, on the birth of their son.

But the announcement of the birth with his weight in pound is very much in the past and well into Old Labour territory.

When our second son was born in the same hospital, forty years ago, his weight was given in kilograms.

So get into the present day, Mr. Miliband!

November 8, 2010 Posted by | Health, News | , , , | 1 Comment

The Daisy 2011 Presentation Browser

I’ve just rewritten the first of my suite of Daisy Web Tools, the Presentation Browser.

Presentation Browser Screen Shot

I originally wrote the program for three reasons.

  1. You can control the size of the browser window, so that it fits your on-line Internet-based presentation. In the screen-shot above, the browser has been set to 800 x 600 pixels and some of the tolbars have been removed to give a cleaner view of the web page.
  2. The program allows you to print clean copies of pages from the Internet.  The classic is wanting to print say a recipe or a set of instructions and instead of one page with what you want, you get the first bit on one page, the second on another and ipmteen pages of garbage. The Daisy Presentation Browser, allows you to select the part of the page you want and then print it.
  3. The program also allows you to take copies of web pages and then paste them into other programs, like Word and Paint.  It makes producing manuals and on-line documentation a lot easier.

The software is free and can be downloaded from this page. There is a simple registration process to unlock some features of the program. As I hate spam with a vengeance, I only use e-mail addresses collected in the registration process to return user and registration codes.

The software works on any version of Windows later than 2000 or NT4.

To run the software you need to have Internet Explorer installed on your computer, but it doesn’t have to be your default browser.

November 8, 2010 Posted by | Computing | , , | Leave a comment