Sunday, September 17, 2006

Blogger beta

I've decided to move to Blogger beta. Things may look a bit weird while I get sorted out.

Should the BC Auditor General scrutinise Expo's books?

The Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Games has been rocked by the report of the Acting Auditor General of BC, who declared that certain infrastructural spending of the province such as the Sea to Sky Highway are more properly accounted for as Olympic spending, doubling the BC contribution to C$1.5 billion.

All this makes me wonder - if a similar accounting was done on the proposal for Expo 2015, what would happen to the City of Toronto's Expo numbers? I am a bit of an Expo-sceptic, not opposed as such but simply feel that the Expo is more something to justify spending on the waterfront rather than a desirable event in itself, and thus opposition to Expo might be construed as anti-waterfront.

Cities like Bilbao, Oslo and Stockholm (the last two recently visited by the Star's Christopher Hume) have not, so far as I know, needed such events in order to do proper city-building. My concern is that just as losing the Olympics bid has left Toronto without any of the infrastructure an Olympics bid would have provided, should Toronto lose the Expo bid all of the transport and other infrastructure will similarly disappear even though much of it will be needed regardless.

On a social level, Toronto has almost forgotten how to show off, perhaps an echo of a staid past. Recent reviews of the Exhibition have noted how tired it was and how little was actually exhibited - perhaps because innovation lives in Kitchener-Waterloo these days.

Finally, the 13.5 billion it is claimed the Expo will generate will mostly accrue to the federal and provincial governments' income and sales taxes while creating new infrastructure to be maintained by the city. For big events such as this to be worthwhile, the city needs to get a portion of the economic activity taxes rather than relying on property tax to solve the inevitable overruns projects of this size seem to attract.

"Mayor Robocop" puts loudspeakers on CCTV cameras

Via Slashdot, the news that Ray Mallon, former police Superintendent in Middlesborough in the United Kingdom and now Mayor of that city, has introduced loudspeakers on seven city CCTV units to tell wrongdoers to stop littering, fighting or cycling through pedestrian zones. From the Daily Mail article:
The control room operators have been given strict guidelines about what commands they can give. Yelling 'Oi you, stop that', is not permitted.

Instead, their instructions make the following suggestions: 'Warning - you are being monitored by CCTV - Warning - you are in an alcohol-free zone, please refrain from drinking'; and Warning - your behaviour is being monitored by CCTV. It is being recorded and the police are attending.'

Mr Bonner said: 'We always make the requests polite, and if the offender obeys, the operator adds 'thank you'. We think that's a nice finishing touch.

Well, that's nice. I mean, "move along, citizen 599-011-334" would be just creepy, wouldn't it.

iTunes 7 - better updating to come?

Just downloaded and installed iTunes 7. According to the installer, an Apple Update Service service is along for the ride. Now this is probably to regularly push updates to re-patch the regularly cracked "FairPlay" system but if it saves me having to download the full installer every time Apple changes things about I won't mind much - something I wrote about in March. Even Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird have figured out patch updates so with Apple's resources it was a bit stupid that they hadn't before.

UPDATE: Turns out Apple Update only applies to iPod not iTunes. A 35mb update to 7.0.1 ("only" 25mb for OSX) is downloading as I type which fixes stability issues. When are we going to see an "I'm a Mac" ad about this?

UPDATE 2: Clicking Help/Check for updates in 7.0.1 takes you to the iTunes homepage for the full download. Forcing Apple Update to run also allows iTunes to be updated - with an 18mb download. Why the hell can't they get this right?! Hopefully in 7.0.2 they have.

The Royal Society opens its archive of discoveries

Via Pete Baker on Slugger O'Toole, the news that papers in respect of discoveries by Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin and Stephen Hawking are available, free, from the website of the Royal Society all the way back to 1665. It's only free until December so get reading.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Happy days are here again...

for the time being anyway. God knows how we're managing it considering the farce of United's summer transfer dealings.

1 Manchester United 12pts
4 Chelski 9pts
9 Liverpool 4pts
10 city 4pts
17 Arsenal 2pts

Not everyone is happy, mind.

Meanwhile Roy starts his official career with a win, although his Vader-esque presence in the stands produced a win just before he signed the contract. I wonder whether his half-time chat was of the Ferguson Hairdryer (TM) variety. A good hiding of Leeds on Wednesday will make Old Trafford devotees smile all the wider.