Canoe drama uncovered

H and I watched this amazing documentary on the Canoe Darwins on ITV last night. Previously I had mixed feelings about the whole story, having been close to bankruptcy myself quite recently I tried to see it from their point of view and considered that, although what they did was wrong, they were likely victims of a poorly planned attempt at saving their bacon that got out of control very quickly. However, the documentary has very much changed my mind as it revealed things that you never read in the news.

In particular, it revealed just how much of a selfish monster John Darwin is. He apparently tried to enter into business with a woman in Kansas, and when that didn’t work out he basically terrorised her, threatening to have her and her family killed and stuff, it was awful. Then he moved on to try to buy a catamaran, and when that deal fell through did similar to the owners. Then there was the whole Panama thing of course and they lied to and used as many people as was necessary to do that. This is all, of course, in addition to the fact that he stole the identity of a baby that had been dead for 50 years and lied to his sons, even using them unwittingly in order to get the life insurance money.

The documentary summarised the financial impact of the whole affair, including the life insurance payout, the cost of the sea search and rescue, police time and legal fees, to be around £1m. Now, this really isn’t a lot of money in the grand scheme of things; as they say, a million isn’t what it used to be, so I’m not so worried about that. What I am shocked about is just how many people whose lives they’ve deeply affected in order to pursue their own selfish ends, and the absolute lack of thought and consideration for anyone but themselves. Everyone, ranging from the family of the dead baby, through the coastguard that put their lives on the line to look for him, through to the people involved in the failed business deals, right up to those who suffered the ultimate betrayal – their sons. They used people without even thinking about it, as if they had an automatic right to do so.

Truly shocking. What utter monsters.


iPhone 3G


Myself and H received our free iPhone 3Gs the other week, and they’re absolutely great. I wasn’t displeased with the original iPhone, which I bought in January, but there were some notable features that were missing from it, in particular 3G and the ability to install third party applications. Both these shortcomings have been resolved with the new version and also has proper GPS now too instead of the poor-man’s version which attempted to triangulate your position from mobile masts. The best thing about the upgrade was that it was free and Envirofone are giving me £115 for my old one, so, result!

I’ve a mandate from work to think about developing applications for the iPhone, because my boss has one too and is very fired up over it. Unlike Microsoft, Apple give their development platform away for free, rather than charging thousands for it, so that’s a good start. The only problem is that Apple software development, whether for Mac OS or the iPhone, is all done using Objective C and C++, which I have absolutely no experience with, so I did a fair amount of shopping on Amazon for some suitable O’Reilly books last week with the intention of getting to grips with it, if myself and my lackey can fit it around our current commitments.

I have of course installed all sorts of new applications on my iPhone, ranging from arcade games to news feeds to website specific applications, such as those provided by Facebook and Google, but the “killer app” that I’ve found is Apple Remote. This application allows me to play music from either my iTunes library or H’s (on separate computers) to any set of remote speakers in the flat (we have a set in the living room and a set in the bedroom), as well as on the computer on which the library resides, of course. So we can sit in bed and summon up any music we want, including Internet radio, and have it play wherever we are. Either of us can control it, at the same time, using both our iPhones too. It’s brilliant, and I actually don’t understand why it doesn’t ship with the iPhone since it’s written by Apple and made available for free anyway.

Still no picture messaging on the new iPhone though, which surprises me, I would have thought that would be very easy to implement, especially given the 3G support.


Public to decide Manchester C-charge future

BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Public to decide C-charge future – I received the public consultation documents regarding this a couple of weeks ago and, rather than dismiss them out of hand, I actually sat down and carefully read through them with an open mind, suspecting that one day I might be asked to vote on the issue. The pack had a comments form, which invited residents to anonymously submit their opinions on the proposals.

The proposals themselves are actually very reasonable. The planned improvements in public transport are widespread and comprehensive and I can see that they would be very effective. In an ideal world it would be difficult to argue against raising the money to pay for them from a congestion charge, especially since the proposed congestion charges are extremely reasonable, both in their cost and their application, when compared to the ludicrous and punitive charges levied against those who dare to have business in the centre of London on a weekday. It is, however, not an ideal world.

Unfortunately for the proponents of the proposed charging scheme and those who have planned how to spend its potential financial yield, we live in a country whose government has deliberately and consistently raped and pillaged both the car driving and public transport using public for over eleven years now. Every year the cost of both forms of transport has increased well beyond the rate of inflation and service and performance in both regards has consistently and dramatically decreased. The traveling public is constantly promised improvements in return for price increases and such improvements are rarely, if ever, delivered.

It is regretful, therefore, that no matter how good the proposals for improving public transport in Manchester are, I simply cannot advocate or support the introduction of a congestion charge to pay for them. I need to see the rewards for this scheme first, because too many times I feel I have been stiffed by being made to pay for promised improvements up front and then being let down. I’m quite willing to pay for improvements to public transport, but this time I need to see the goods before I’m going to get my wallet out. I insist on paying in arrears, this time, not in advance, because whenever I pay in advance the government just takes my money and runs, shouting vague promises and throwing hastily written IOUs over its shoulder as it trousers my cash. Enough is enough.