Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

You do realise ‘professional’ reviews are just about as useless as online fakes, don’t you?

While it’s never safe to generalise, it’s probably fair to say that, unless you understand the methods used, most reviews probably mean little in the real world.

That’s not to say they’re wrong, or deliberate tripe as in the case of fake online reviews (and comments).

What it means is that they’re probably only valid under the particular circumstances they’re carried out under.

The most well-known example is that of car/vehicle fuel consumption, where the manufacturers try to optimise the figure, and produce a number that nobody will achieve in the real world. That’s not actually the fraud that campaigners have sought to claim it to be, since the real idea behind the figure was to measure under the same circumstances for all vehicles, so they could be judged relative to one another.

But, the usual activists and campaigners didn’t like that, and sought to promote the idea that the results were being fixed, and the tests have become ever complex, maybe even less repeatable and reliable, but the activists and campaigners are probably happy,  and that’s more important than having reliable figure. That’s a fairly tongue-in-cheek comment, but it is nonetheless true that by moving to the WLTP (worldwide harmonized light vehicles test procedure) there are more variables, and comparison can become more complex.

But, that’s just an intro the latest gaff by Which?

I found it near hysterically funny that they’ve justified their existence with…

Fitness trackers ‘add miles to your marathon’



Who EVER thought devices that don’t use GPS were in any way accurate?

I could say the same about those using GPS, but the case for accuracy with that depend on understanding signal reception and location accuracy, so you can estimate, or at least be aware of errors when using those devices.

I’ve been using various GPS devices for tracking journeys since the mid 1990s, and know how accurate they are, or are not if I abuse the rules for maintaining accuracy.

I did try step counting devices, , or pedometers, but soon came to the conclusion that they were a joke.

I can’t even understand why anyone would rely on such a pathetic effort today.

While I’m sure the modern types (as opposed to the old ones with pendulums) can be married to software smart enough to make them work accurately, I’m also pretty sure that only happens when the software matched the circumstances under which the device is used, and has to be tuned to suit.

Worse still is Which?, which (sorry) really blotted its record by testing such devices indoors and on treadmills.

That’s just daft!

It shows a complete failure to understand how they work, and their limitations.

It’s sad.

It’s so sad, if I was the boss at Which? I’d probably be planning a little ‘head rolling’ session, and bringing in some new testing staff.

Sorry, but I spent a long time in the professional side of test and measurement, and things like this are just not acceptable, not even for something like a magazine, since it can influence a lot of people, and mislead them.


More Fitbit fun here.


27/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Why no secure ‘Bike Parks’ similar to ‘Car Parks’

While it’s nice to see Glasgow City Council continue to defy activists who claim it’s not doing anything (or maybe enough) for cyclists, with news that some £250,000 is to be spent installing fifty storage units (secure on-street cycle lock-ups for residents to store their bikes) in parts of the city where tenements and flats are predominant, I’m going to put my ‘Grumpy Hat’ on and say that this marks a missed opportunity.

Glasgow has something in store for cyclists living the high life

I’ve read a few articles on this subject over the past few months, and have been disappointed every time.

While I’m obviously pleased for the residents concerned, my gripe is that there’s no similar option for anyone wanting to leave their bike on the street.

We have to lug around decent chains and locks if we want to be reasonably sure our bikes will be where we left them, and strip them of any easily removed accessories lest they vanish when we’re not there.

Somebody is missing a business opportunity, with the equivalent of a car park for bikes.

There was an attempt on Dragons’ Den a couple of years ago, but mistakes were made.

Dragons’ Den firm’s £4,000 street bike lockers installed in Exeter city centre

But that’s not the point – what matters is that others were interested (and the guy didn’t really try, as he really just wanted to get on TV).

They’ve installed their storage at a library.

We’ve also got storage at a library, Glasgow Women’s Library in Bridgeton.

Glasgow Women's Library Secure Bike Storage

Glasgow Women’s Library Secure Bike Storage

I’m guessing this example, from Partick, is for residents.

Secure bike storage Partick

Secure bike storage Partick

So, I’m no longer in any sort of business, don’t have any funding, so all I can do is make the point that there’s probably a nice business opportunity for someone who want to take the chance and get onto this early.

After all, we’re continually being told bike ownership and use is only going to increase, so it’s not a great stretch of the imagination to see that there will be opportunities, especially as some bike owners are daft enough to be parted from many thousands of pounds for their bikes, they should be easy touches for a few quid for safe storage 😉

My bike may only be worth a few hundred, but I can’t afford to lose that, and have spent just about as much on security.


Local media eventually noticed…

On-street bike parking scheme to be launched across Glasgow

27/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Sadly, this wasn’t on my bus

But, it is one of our RHD double-deckers, so not a video from abroad, as so many of the best seem to be.

All I get on my buses seem to people I want to get away from.

Seriously, yesterday an otherwise nice guy got on, but his voice appeared to have only one volume setting, around 120 dBA – and he loved a poor wee dug a woman was taking to the park. It must have been stone-deaf by the time she reached her stop.

Last week, our (lady) bus driver stopped in Trongate and threw and old (looking) woman off the bus – the problem wasn’t obvious until we saw her fall about, and the can of lighter fuel she’d been inhaling.

Intriguingly, I see her sitting around the same place in Trongate, very recognisable as she has a mass of black hair, still shoving a can of lighter fuel into her face, almost hidden by all the hair.

Then there was girl who spent half an hour shouting into the back of my head as she babbled monotonously into her mobile phone – fortunately I resisted the urge to do anything as she kept mentioning “visiting her mum in prison in Falkirk“. That would be Polmont Young Offenders Institution, which took the women formerly held in Cornton Vale a couple of years ago.

Haven’t seen anyone manage this on a bus I’ve been on, although there are many nodding heads – I’m just impressed by how they always seem to wake up just before their stop.

Smart phones aren’t ALL bad 🙂

27/04/2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Interesting building pics came with an interesting back story too

When I took some pics of a building in North Claremont Street recently, I had no idea there was a further story behind it.

I pass this building frequently at the moment, and didn’t realise it was abandoned/derelict and subject to a planning application.

I thought it was functional (I pass when it would be closed, even if it had been in business), and was a tad envious of the lucky owner as there’s a small yard to the left which I thought contained their Porsche and BMW (and van), but I guess that’s really just somebody, or more than one somebody, using the yard.

My interest came after taking a couple of pics, one at lunchtime, and another about six hours later. One was taken with a ‘cheap’ camera (I’d probably only get £10 if traded), and one with something a little more valuable (I see Amazon still wants more than £220 for it today). I should add we’re not in dSLR territory, but I don’t want to give specifics, as too many people read reviews and make assumptions based on the nonsense spouted by some reviewers.

The times mean the lighting would have changed, and the two pics reflect that, and really make me wonder about colour accuracy when taking important pics.

The other aspect was the level of detail from the two cameras – you’d be hard-pressed to see serious differences, and even making a 1:1 pixel comparison, you have to be seriously critical before the difference become obvious.

The pics are identified* at the foot of the page.

The building is described as being 200 years old, but that’s a bit silly as it was a four-storey tenement, cut down, then made into shops.

Other than some exterior wall, there’s not much of the 1800s’ tenement left.

Click for bigger.

North Claremont Street Building

North Claremont Street Building

North Claremont Street building

North Claremont Street building


I took the pics after reading that…

200-year-old building to be demolished and replaced with block of flats

REVISED Flats Plan For Disused Restaurant Site Near Kelvingrove Gets Go-Ahead

As I hinted, calling some bits of wall a “200-year-old building” is a bit of a stretch.

More interesting was the note regarding 54 letters of objection to the plans, and the tangle web of procedural whining heard in the planning meeting from those not happy about the approval.

Once again, as with many plans, it will not favour car owners, “Two parking spaces will be provided plus cycle storage“.

I haven’t read of fun like that for years, and thought it was a thing of the past, as nearly all the planning decisions I’ve read recently have been pretty good, and dug out the flaws which some might say the developers tried to gloss over, or even hide in the detail.

I’ll have to try to remember to get some pics of the finished item.

The concept look like this…

DO Architects North Claremont Street concept

DO Architects North Claremont Street concept

*The pics ARE in the correct time order. The first is the noon pic, taken with a small pocket compact, 1/250 f4.7. The second pic was evening, 1/80 f3.7. Both were at ISO100.

The pics are (lighting excluded) near identical, and my point is simply that one camera is about 10 or even 20 times the cost of the other.

I’m not forgetting or ignoring that the more expensive one will ultimately operate over a greater range of lighting than the other, or that the lesser one will fail to get the pic more often. Those criteria weren’t the inspiration behind this quick comparison.

27/04/2019 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Somebody should start a ‘Fix George Square webcam lighting’ petition

I wonder why none of the people who like to do such things haven’t seen fit to start a petition to have an offending light in George Square fixed?

The thing has a been a pain for ages, especially when it was getting dark earlier, before we moved the clocks.

One of the square’s pole mounted floodlights is shining right into the George Square webcam, with the result that once it gets dark, the glare from this light blows most of the webcam image away, and the view is almost completely lost until the lights go off.

Like this…

George Square webcam glare

George Square webcam glare

George Square Webcam

I’ve contacted them a few times, using the contact form on the webcam page.

But, since the light is still blinding the cam after some months have passed since I mentioned it for the first time, it looks as if nobody is bothering.

It’s hardly a big job, and there are council workers around the square with cherry-pickers now and then, carrying out other maintenance.

27/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Today is International Marconi Day

27 April 2019 is International Marconi Day.

And, it’s another of the gems that moves around a little every year, as it’s defined as being the  Saturday closest to Marconi’s birthday, 25 April (1874).

The day is a 24-hour amateur radio event which celebrates the career of the  Italian wireless communications pioneer Guglielmo Marconi.

To commemorate the Nobel laureate’s achievements, participants use HF radio to make direct, point-to-point, contact between stations, so rely on the same technology Marconi developed and used in his day.

Although the Internet has now become the medium of choice for global communications, the day is intended to keep the spirit of invention alive.



27/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Morse Code Day

27 April is Morse Code Day.

Morse Code has been around since 1836, when Samuel Morse began development of a system (telegraph) which would allow communication over long distances, even with weak or faint signal and the simplest of equipment. It can get through when other forms of communication are not possible. It would lead to the Morse Code we know today.

Unlike voice, which may be easier for anyone to understand (without training), the code only needs to be able to get a recognisable pattern of dots and dashes through in order to pass its information. Speech needs to pass a lot more information in order to be understood.

I’m no longer involved, so don’t know the detail now, but when I did get my ‘ticket’ I started off with the VHF/UHF side of amateur radio, which did not need a pass in Morse Code. Although I did intend to carry and complete the exams for HF operation, I was baulked by an inability to get my ear ‘tuned’ into receiving Morse, even at the fairly easy 12 WPM (words per minute) then required.

Somehow, I just couldn’t make it click into place in my head, despite faithfully following the slow Morse transmission provided for amateurs, and getting lucky back then, when I picked up one of the first Morse trainers controlled by a microprocessor. This could be set to any desired speed to send random groups of numbers and letter, after which it spoke them so you could check what you received and wrote down. Sadly, it didn’t really help. The only good thing was I picked it up cheap at a rally, and didn’t pay the £200 price tag it had when new.

I ‘lost’ it to another prospective amateur. Loaned to him, he never got around to returning it, and then he managed to get himself fired (we worked together), and despite promising to show up with it… of course, that never happened.



Ever since that failure I’ve always envied multi-lingual people, especially those who were born and raised with one language, but were able to move to another country, become fluent as adults, and both speak and think in two (or more) languages.

I was raised in such a family, but for various reasons (I can’t describe, but think politics and you’re not far off) was brought up only with English (or should that be Scottish), despite parents with two other languages as their native tongues. It’s probably one of the few things I blame the world for denying me from having, since learning other languages as a child is said to be relatively easy, as compared to trying the same as an adult.

I was obliged to take French at school – while I passed the exams, again, like Morse, it never became in any way natural for me to use, or think with.

27/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


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