Protecting my Smartkey Car

I’ve been reading more warnings about car thieves stealing cars by simply using a cheap electronic device to contact your key in your home and relaying the code to an accomplice who can then open your car, start it up and drive off; all while you are asleep and the key safely in the house.

Manufacturers are looking at ways to foil the thieves but while we await a hi-tech solution, here’s a simple precaution you can take. Just keep the key in what physicists call a Faraday cage. That might sound complex but it is simply a metal enclosure to block radio waves. I post a picture of my Faraday cage below.

car key in a tin
My simple Faraday cage

As you can see this is a simple small tin box. This one came with chocolate peanuts from Marks & Spencer but any small tin will do. I keep my key in this at night and can sleep soundly, knowing it won’t be too easy to steal my car.

Killers of the Flower Moon

I’ve just finished reading David Grann’s book on the murders of the Osage Indians in Oklahoma in the early 20th Century. This is the result of years of research into the murky past of middle America. It’s a tale of racism, greed, corruption and murder. It also tells us about some of the early heroes of the FBI – and the villains.

I found this book gave me an insight into racism today in the USA, and probably in the UK too. I can begin to understand why some people voted for Donald Trump – and Brexit. It’s unsettling because it throws a lighton the nastier side of human nature, the side I’v told myself was long gone.

Read this book and you will never see things in the same way again.

James MacMillan’s Sabat Mater from the Sistine Chapel

I was sorry to have missed the live stream of James’ Sabat Mater as I was reading at Mass in Saint Patrick’s sic o’clock mass on Sunday. Classic FM have it on their website and I have included the video here.

The acoustics of this ancient chapel sound wonderful even on my PC speakers. I must try this on my television.

Click here for the video

Just fitting the Flux Capacitor into the DeLorian

Well, that’s it we are on our way! Where to you ask? Back, back to the future, where things were and will be again, rosy and wonderful. Back to the future of the good old days.

video here

Yes, the vote was decisive and we are about to set off into the future on a journey to the past. I’ve been told by those who know these things that things were great in good old Britain before we went into the E.U. Food was cheap, beer tasted better and we were living the life of Reilly.

Mind you that’s not quite how I remember it. I remember a post war Britain where rationing still determined what you could eat. I can still remember the day I was able to go into the shop at the end of the street and buy sweets without my mother bringing her ration book.

I remember a selective schooling system where only the few could get a full secondary education. I remember my dad going to work onChristmas day because it was not a holiday. I remeber people could be forced to work long hours for low pay. I remember when people died of industrial diseases and accidents at work.

So I’m going off to revisit the past now that we can dispense with these pesky E.U. directives. Just as soon as I can hook up my Flux Capacitor into my DeLorian and get it up to 88 miles per hour I’ll be back in a flash. By the way, anybody know where my nearest Plutonium retailer is?

You, on the other hand, will just have to wait till the negotiations have completed and we get out again – back to the future of the past.

They’ve replace the Sherbet Fountain

I remember one of our favourite sweets was the Sherbet Fountain. It was simply a paper tube containing sherbet. At one end was a tube of liquorice. You simply bit the end off the tube ans sucked up the sherbet. When you had emptied the paper you ate the liquorice.

Can you still buy these?

Can you still buy these?

You couldsee children wandering along the street puffing at their treat. The other day I was walking down Buchanan Street in Glasgow and I noticed what seemed to b adults sucking on sherbet fountains. A closer look showed thatt hey were, in fact, puffing at their e-cigarette. It was certainly a strange sight.

You can't eat the tube when you finish.

You can’t eat the tube when you finish.

I wondered why grown alults would want to emulate childrens sweets. Perhaps that’s the answer. Do ‘vappers’ really want to revert to their childhood? This developnemt is worth watching to see where it takes us.

My Windows 10 Problem – Sorted!

I was quick to register for the Windows10 upgrade, free from Microsoft. I waited and waited and eventually I got the go ahead to download and install. Exciting eh?

Unfortunately it failed. It worked ok on my old netbook and on my daughter’s laptop, but my desktop PC just failed, again and again. Now I’ve done quite a lot to the PC. The last addition was a solid state drive (SSD) to speed up booting. I checked out the web and found that I needed 300mb system reserved space and I only had 100mb. That didn’t sound to difficult.

Wrong again! I had the devil’s own job moving stuff about . I removed an old hard drive, bought partition managing software -eventually I managed to inclease the space. I tried the update again – FAILED!

This morning I had another browse and found a suggested solution. I was in command prompt as an administrator poking in code – no success. I was about to give up when I noticed a small suggestion on the forum. If you have installed an SSD the drive may not have been set to Active.

I checked – that was the case. I sorted that with a couple of clicks and BINGO – I was installing 10.

My installation failed because of a corrupted file but that was soon sorted out with windows repair. Installed again and here I am. There are still a couple of issues but it works and I’m sure to sort out the issues soon.

Do you have this problem? Check out the posts here


The Plans that don’t quite match

I’ve been building a plastic model aeroplane. It’s a Sopwith Camel, 1:28 scale by Revell.  It took me a while to persuade myself to buy the kit. I’ve built other Revell kits and I’ve always found a problem with the parts. there always seems to be at least one that is totally wrong. I built a 1:48 scale Mosquito that required severe surgery with a mini rotary tool but that was in the past. It shouldn’t happen again.

Well it did. I found the tail on the camel does not fit. I’m not sure whether the designer was thinking of a different shape to the fuselage moulding or whether he just got the measurements wrong, but the result is a gap where there should not be one. I spotted the mistake before sticking the parts together so another bit of surgery was required and the gap has been filled by strips of plastic cut from another part of the kit; the platform for the human figure to stand on.

I suppose I should be glad that there are mistakes like these. They present a mini challenge and stimulate the brain cells, those that are left in operation. It’s also useful to be able to refer back to this when I make a stupid mistake in something, well even big organisations get it wrong sometimes.

Never the less, it should be a beauty when I finish it. It probably won’t last; long my wife will probably knock it off the desk if the grandsons don’t fly it out of the window first. Ah well!

Kelvin Walk Part 1

My wife and I set off onthe kelvin walk on Saturday. The weater was not promising but we decided to chance it anyway. We decided to park down by the Kelvin at the side of the Kelvin Hall and walked over to our starting point on the old Partick bridge.

The University from the Old Partick bridge

The University from the Old Partick bridge

This is the second time we have taken this walk and decided not to stick by the river on the way through the park. We took the top path to get a flavour of the history of the place. I noticed some memorials had been placed, some on benches and some on trees. Some record long forgotten Glasgow characters.

From the days of music hall?

From the days of music hall?

Heading along the path we came across Glasgow’s own copy of the Port Sunlight worker’s cottages. This seems a bit out of place or is it just an unexpected treasure? I’m still not sure of the significance.

Port Sunlight in Glasgow?

Port Sunlight in Glasgow?

Coming out of the park we visited the now refurbished Bandstand. It looks really good now. It should be a venue for all sorts of events – if the weather permits. That’s not guaranteed this summer, I’m afraid.

The Upgraded bandstand.

The Upgraded bandstand.

A walk throught the other side of the park (The Kelvin Way divides the park here) reveals  a place of relaxation for all sorts of people. Families out for a stroll and an attempt to tire out the children, teenagers having a kickabout with a ball and cyclists finding a safe route through the city.

Passing under the bridge that takes Woodlands Road over the river we find ourselves in a less frequented park that follows the river up to Great Western Road at Kelvinbridge. The artwork on the bare walls gives the space an out of city atmosphere.

Through the bridge.

Through the bridge.

This space has a play park and a Park and Ride facility for the subway station. At the other end we come to the magnificent bridge that takes Great Western Road over the river. There is even a pub where you can stop for food and refreshment.

A watering place by the water.

A watering place by the water.

Once through the bridge we get a good look at the torrent of water that is flowing in the kelvin today. The heavy rains of the last few weeks have changed the character of this normally placid stretch.

Fast flowing water today.

Fast flowing water today.

The next stretch is quieter but still has  walkers and cyclists regularly passing. On the opposite bank we see a well designed building which seems to incorporate an office and living quarters. The building ins nicely set into the bank and gives a beautiful, peaceful outlook. I’m not sure how you would get much work done looking out over the river.

Riverside office.

Riverside office.

Walking on we pass under the beautiful arch of the bridge carrying Belmont street over the river. From street level you get no idea of the beautiful arches that support the road. From the waterside the view is more spectacular.

A spectacular arch.

A spectacular arch.

We move on and cross the river to find the old flint mill. There is only a ruin left but the mill race still flows, showing how the slight drop in water level produced power. I would never have imagined that this quiet place was once a hive of industry.

The Old Flint Mill

The Old Flint Mill

Soon we are heading up to the bridge at Queen Margaret Drive where once the BBC broadcast to the nation. we pass under anothe beautivul arch and come to the iron bridge that takes us out of the River Walk and escape to the Botanic Gardens.

The wee iron bridge.

The wee iron bridge.

This is enough for one afternoon. The Botanics becons and just beyond lies Byres Road and all the wee shops. Perhaps we can get a bite toeat there. The walking has made me hungry. I’m determined to do the next leg of the journey soon. I’ll post the results as soon as I do.

Exit to the Botanics.

Exit to the Botanics.

Arthur and George – A criminal case

I’ll start with confession. I’m not a fan of Martin Clunes. Actually I don’t like anything he has been in. I disliked Men Behaving Badly. I can’t stand Doc Martin.

I was keen to see Arthur and George. I had read the book and thought the programme would be good. I was not so sure when I realised that Martin Cline’s was the leading character. However my opinion changed as soon as Arthur spoke. He was Doyle.

Visually this was really good. The cast is first class. So what’s wrong? The story has been sabotaged! Who is the criminal mastermind behind this assault? It’s the sound mixer. The music and other sounds drown out the speech. Shades of Jamaica Inn!

In this story, if you can’t hear the dialogue you completely lose the plot. What a waste! I hope I’m not the only one to complain about this.

I really hope somebody sorts this out before the next programme. Come on STV!

The Film That Defines America

Film Poster

More than a great comedy

I was recently watching a rerun of the great Blake Edwards comedy classic, “The Great Race”, starring Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood or Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis, depending on your outlook. This is a film that I have loved from the first viewing, despite poor reviews from critics.

This film is a great comedy, especially so for film buffs as it takes the mickey out of so many classic scenes. What I have only recently come to realise is that the film is the only cinematic production that defines the USA that I love. You might wonder why I think that, I’ll tell you why.

The film encapsulates the schizophrenia that underlies America. Shocked? No, let me explain. The hero is The Great Leslie (Tony Curtis), a clean cut (always spotlessly white) American hero who dares to challenge nature and overcome at every attempt. The anti – hero is Professor Fate (Jack Lemon), always dressed in black, secretive and produces outrageous devices which invariably land him in the Sh*t, literally.

These two characters represent the two faces of America. Leslie is the American hero who we (I ) have grown up with, good, clean and always successful. Fate is an out and out bad guy. Who is the real America? I have always rooted for Leslie. He is the good guy.

Fate is the bad guy who doesn’t play by the rules and produces strange devices, unlike Leslie who uses solid American vehicles. But, and for me this is a big but, it’s not really as simple as that. I realised that America does not always play by the rules. It is not always open and honest. In fact America is most proud of its ‘black ops’, undercover agents who don’t officially exist. Not everything in America is whiter than snow. The Space Shuttle was white alright but its really advanced craft was the SR71 Blackbird. It was black and it was secret.

Like Professor Fate’s devices the Blackbird was flawed. It leaked fuel when on the ground but operationally it was a great success. Fate produced flying machines, bomb sights, rocket propelled craft, homing torpedoes and a car the US Army would have gladly gone to war in. He was an innovator where Leslie chose a balloon and a factory built car.

Fate was the man the CIA would have turned to when they needed something. They wouldn’t let Leslie near Langley. I think professor Fate was the real American hero. He was an innovator. He never gave up when things went wrong. Every time he was blown up or got a pie in the face he came back for more. Leslie never got dirty.

Actually, In the end, it was Fate who won the race. He’s my man.