Sunday, 8 August 2010

Motorcycle parking at football grounds - Burnley

Frankly, gawd knows, all suggestions gratefully received in case I ever care to go back. But don't blithely assume that single yellow lines don't apply on Saturday afternoons just because lots of cagers appear to have done the same.

And we lost 1-0, and it rained on me both ways, and the bits of West Yorkshire you go through to to get there are full of traffic-filled roads surfaced with builder's rubble and chip fat, and all the petrol stations there have no toilets, and if you use an HTC Desire as a satnav it runs the battery flat in about two hours.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Ubuntu server upgrade to 10.04 LTS - dovecot configuration

Just fairly painlessly upgraded our file/web/mail/everything else server to Ubuntu 10.04 (wouldn't normally bother or would do a clean new install, but it was a pretty new clean installation of 9.10 anyway and 10.04 is one of the LTS versions). The only failure that I've noticed so far is that dovecot did not start because of errors in the old config file /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf so in case anyone else comes across it

1) Dovecot will use SSL by default, so if you don't have the certificates and that set up, it will tell you so and die. The old config file had a commented out default setting in the SSL settings section (around line 100):
# disable_ssl=no
but uncommenting and setting this to yes doesn't work - I had instead to insert
ssl = no

2) The new version has changed the handling of the sieve routines (whatever they are) making the MANAGESIEVE section of the same file (around line 680) redundant, and specifically the settings
cause an error - just comment them out. Congratulations, you now have (well, I now have) a slightly crufty dovecot.conf that will actually let the thing start, and you can read all the viagra spam that has been waiting while you did the system upgrade.

Usual caveats apply, especially the "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" ones about taking advice from people who don't really know what they're doing.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Motorcycle parking at football grounds - Nottingham Forest

The City Ground will probably be the only other entry here this season, unless something unlikely (like my getting an away leg ticket) happens in the playoffs.

There is a small bike parking area and cycle shed tucked around the back of the gatekeepers' hut of the car park to the east of the ground - handy for the Bridgford End which is currently the away end. Access is from Scarrington Road which is a rathole off the southern end of Ladybay Bridge. If you follow the "football traffic" signs, from most directions they take you round the A52 ring road and into down down the Radcliffe Road (A6011). From the roundabout at Gamston go straight ahead through three sets of traffic lights, and where the road splits at the fourth, take the two right-hand lanes to go straight on over Ladybay bridge and then left a hundred yards later and you should be here:

View Larger Map

then straight in through the gate and round to the left.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Motorcycle parking at football grounds - number 1 in a very occasional series: Blackpool

There doesn't seem to be much on the web about going to the football by motorbike, so I may as well stick what I know down here as and when I find it out, I guess.

So, number 1 in a series of at least 1: Blackpool FC, Bloomfield Road

The ground is surrounded by car parking, but Blackpool City Council charge a motorbike in a car space the full fee. Fortunately, there is a large (and largely empty, when I was there) free motorcycle bay in the Rigby Road car park, directly opposite the North Stand. No locking rail or any of the sort, but plenty of space.

Note that Rigby Road car park is NOT accessible from Rigby Road. If you are coming in from the M55 like most visitors, just carry straight on at the roundabout and follow your nose/the match traffic; you end up coming up the west side of the ground on Seasiders Way. Carry on past the ground and turn right on Sands Way at the small roundabout, and then turn right and left immediately afterwards into the general car parking area; the bay is down the second row on your left - around top middle of the google maps thing below.

Blackpool council give the postcode as FY1 5DR but I don't think that that is actually for the car park itself.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

On translating Powerpoint

I hold this truth self-evident: that for any file produced using Microsoft PowerPoint™*, at least one of the following statements must be true:
  • the document is fundamentally unsuitable for translation
  • the document should actually have been produced in a word processor or a DTP program
  • the document is utterly pointless garbage
Indeed, in my more jaundiced moments (which are many), I have been known to suggest that nothing worthwhile has ever been produced in PowerPoint, but people I know and trust (despite their being academics) have occasionally managed to provide some more or less acceptable counter-examples. None such has ever graced the various inboxes of Hughes Communications, however.

It appears that in the wider world of business, people with not enough to do are commonly set to produce "presentations" for "meetings"; I admit that this falls largely outside my first-hand experience - I can't help it if I'm lucky. As far as I can tell, the form appears to be that the slideshow is used as supporting material for a spoken presentation, with the futile aim of reinforcing Key Points. (Research has in fact demonstrated [citation needed] that this doesn't actually work - they just disorient or distract the listener/viewer. But they persist.) The upshot of this is that these slideshows consist by and large of slightly repetitive laundry lists of unexplained concepts, often linked together with arrows in a way which reflects either some hidden structure, or just the speakers' normal hand gestures. Since the explanations are not Key Points, they are relegated to the spoken element of the presentation. Now, should it be decided that this exercise is to be conducted in a different language, the .ppt is duly shipped off by some member of secretarial staff to the company's translation agency of choice, whose harassed project manager duly places it with a translator, who is now, as is commonplace, at three or four steps distant from the originator of the file.

Now fairly early in a translator's career, you discover that context is key to, well, lots of stuff. Which means that laundry lists - more or less context-free lists of terms - are a right pain in the arse to translate at the best of times. Lists of industrial components or stock for sale look easy but always contain something nightmarishly obscure that will take a week to research at a few cents per word, while restaurant menus invariably contain 57 varieties of unresolved ambiguity, often expressed in purest Hello Kitty kitsch (which is why I will only consider translating them on an hourly rate plus the expenses incurred for a research visit to the kitchens, an offer which has yet to be taken up). But at least there you have something concrete to go on, however full of fantaisie. When all you have is, in effect, inchoate note-form reminders to help someone speak who, to some extent at least, knows what they intend to talk about, but hasn't told you, you are in trouble. There is nothing for it but to put on your best mind-reader's hat and interpolate the talk that is to be given between clicks on the "next" button. Which is to say, guesswork and hackwork (as in hack writer rather than definitions 1 to 7 of hacker in the Jargon File) and keep your fingers crossed.

Of course, one side effect of this presentation culture is that the perpetrators often become sufficiently enamoured of the tool that they start using it for inappropriate purposes (Excel jockeys are also serial offenders in this respect). We have more than once been confronted with .ppts which are clearly intended to be printed out as booklets; maybe they wanted landscape format and hadn't worked out how to change it in Word. At least in these cases you ought not to require telepathy, or at least, no more than is usual in the profession, but you will run up against the other fundamental issue: PPt is a lousy text editing environment, because it is designed as a visual tool, not a textual one. The more lovingly the authors have laid out their slides, the bigger a hash it will make when your text is not the same length as the source. It is more or less impossible to change the language settings, so you won't be able to spell check anything. If you use a translation memory program, it is likely to run up against the non-linear nature of text in randomly placed little boxes (Déjà Vu X has been known to go as far as importing the slides in an apparently random order, for added spice, and I name it as a culprit only out of ignorance of the many alternatives); better still when (like many PPt users) your author has not yet found out how to make text boxes wrap and has therefore split running text into different text boxes in order to lay it out right. At which point you can basically give up hope of using TM in any form.

So just say no. And after you have, as usual, failed to say no well enough, let them clean up their own bloody text that, once translated, bleeds over their cool clipart or over the edge of the slide itself. And charge by the hour.

*I imagine that this also applies to material created using OpenOffice Impress or any of the other fine presentation software available on the market, but I've never actually seen any of them in the wild