Archive for category Featured

Zeitgeist the Movie official release 2011 – if you haven’t seen this, have a look

Anyone who hasn’t seen this should have a watch. It’s a long documentary – about 2hrs 40 mins, but its full of thought-provoking ideas. Mad in bits admittedly, with the utopian future-city animations and the cloyingly emotional protest with the soldiers, but the main thrust of its argument is sound. We are being exploited, enslaved, devalued and lied to. We are willing participants in closing our minds to any other way of life.
In the future, if we survive as a species, we will look back and wonder at the selfishness and greed of these times. But the zeitgeist is changing. The mass international communications that technological advances has introduced, has brought with it an increasingly global culture of cooperation and awakening among all citizens of the world. Our leader classes are worried and trying desperately to invent bogeymen and dangers so that we let them monitor and seize control insidiously of this great communications tool and with it, our privacy, our lives, our future. It is analogous to the church’s plight when the printing press was introduced, or to the double-speak of Orwell’s 1984. These reactions are doomed to failure and we will develop a new kind of society based not on consumerism, but on cooperation. Not on financial capital, but on human capital. Not on suspicion, but on harmony.
The alternative is dire.

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Please support Peter Joseph’s new, upcoming free film project: “InterReflections”: http://www.interreflections

submitted to Google 10 to the 100 competition 2008 – waving grain power generation – not successful :-(

I just found this idea I submitted to Google 10 to the 100:


25th Sep 08

Waving Grain Power Generation


While watching a field of cereal crop as it exhibited a naturally occurring wave motion in the wind, I was struck by how this may be a more efficient and environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing way to capture more wind power than with standard wind turbines. Similarly, the idea could be extended to artificial trees, their branches and leaves clawing the wind and swaying, capturing each molecule of power. Also, could be extended to artificial seaweed for capturing the power of the waves.

The power may be generated by conventional electromagnetic means or perhaps even by piezo-electric effects or a combination of the two techniques.

The idea would need development of materials to construct the artificial grasses and plants, materials that would bend and sway. Alternatively, they could be rigid but hinged.

The emergent rhythms of the closely grouped “plants” as they mimic nature may overcome many objections to current wind power methods. Whole fields of grain, or forests of trees, or reefs of sea-plants, each individual strand providing micro-generation but collectively providing greater output than a field of conventional turbines.



Capturing all available energy from the wind, even the slightest breeze.

Cheaper, more portable and more flexible power units.

Prettier power plants.

Less damaging to wildlife.




Everyone who needs to generate their own power; the general public who want less intrusive wind power.


Development of the concepts and trialling to see if the idea does capture more wind power than conventional means. Materials research.


The additional power output compared to conventional turbines should be enough to justify the development and production costs.

A Walk in Kilmarnock

It’s no exactly Burns, but hey, it is his Day, so here’s some doggerel that I made. Feel free to throw away!


It’s no exactly Burns!


A Walk in Kilmarnock

I kissed her first on Bank Street.
We strayed alang the cobbles.
I mind the freckles on her lip,
I mind my belly wobbles!
I mind my airm aboot her waist,
Her e’en, as we stopped tae talk.
I mind we turned up College Wynd
An’ kissed ablow the nock.

Desire-lines coiled the Strand
Tae the station clock high up,
Then doon John Finnie Street we sang
Like when we’d won the cup!
We turned an swung ower Tim’er Brig
Tae King Street, an the shoaps
I pledged my love would aye rin true
Ti’ the Fen’ick waatter stoaps!

We crept enrapt ablow the moon
That lit oor starry paths
An often by a daurkened door
We stopped tae catch oor breaths.
A nicht o blessed joy we had,
Frae Riccarton tae High Street
An aw the kirks in step tick-tock’d wi’
Oor herts’ harmonic beat.

Kilmaurnock toon was oors that nicht
She was mine, an spun me roond.
I was but a geg on legs,
My spring was ower-woond!
Sae slow, sae fast, aboot the toon,
We turned, wi’ the minute haun’,
Ilk’ brief, sweet second drippin’ doon,
Afore ye ken, it’s gone!

We had naewhere tae go or be
Displaced, an young an free,
But juist hoo brief that daun’er wis
I couldnae then forsee.
As shair’s the Palace clock sees aa
The fulness o the airts,
Sae monie faces has a lass
Tae vex a lad o’ pairts.

For sixteen year’ is still a wean
An lassies they are fickle.
My dear ye dealt a bonnie slap,
(Tho’ no sae much the tickle!)
We split, we pairted, me bereft -
She said she had anither!
(Ae nicht I spied them by the brig.
I sweir, I grat a river).

Her hair, her een, her frecklet face,
For several cauld moons sired
Waukrife, fey, grief-stricken dreams,
That mony strolls inspired.
Alang familiar weys, yet strange,
I fun’ masel, loast
An the chidin’, happy, laughin’ nocks
Exacted heavy coast.

I trailed alang thae bonnie wynds,
Again, an ower again.
An even prayed an raged at God!
For refuge fae the rain.
Losin’ hours, days an weeks,
Autumn, winter, year -
My blood, fremit as the river,
As torturous (an clear!)

An’ sae we grow, an’ sae we learn
An doole, gie up the ghost.
An’ sae we settle, sae we’re bate,
Yet love oor torments most!
Kisses, they are o’ their time -
An’ glorious time we spent! -
But’s no her lips I dream o’ noo,
It’s whit they represent.

Ma aul’ hert cannae beat sae fast
As that time in the toon,
But memories o’ ma braw, loast lass
Yet follae me aroon’.
I daun’er by the Laigh Kirk,
See lads tak’ that same walk -
An’ nae folk hear what I can hear,
The ticking o’ yon nock.

Was it a noose, that ramblin’ time,
A shackle I m’un bre’k,
Frae Gran’ Hall tae College Wynd,
Lassoo’d aboot ma neck?
Micht I hae held the Moment
As licht’s I grasped her waist
An’ no dreamed sully, love-lorn schemes
She carelessly erased?

For aye an true’s but youth’s desire.
- We burn tae be defined!
In time there comes a lettin’-go:
A wisdom we unwind.
Could I hae cheatet he’rtbrek
An hushed thae flytin’ nocks,
By lettin things be as they’ll be,
An takin’ ither walks?

Come Spring, a flash-flood hit the watter -
A fella escaped wi’s life.
He’ll mebbe never be the same,
Aye watchin’, worry-rife.
Experience’s a hard maister,
An the lang shadda cast
Can rob ye o’ the joys o’er-dear
…If ye let it last.



Go cautiously amid the online world, yet always remember what joy there may be in connecting.

Be alert to phishing and scams. Do not always use your true personal information. Be wary of signing up to many sites, it is a weariness of the inbox. Retain your right to privacy and exercise it.
Share with those you wish, but do not share too much. Above all, never post images of yourself or others in unguarded or intimate moments. Do not even create such images, or allow them to be taken, however relaxed you may be: those you consider your close friends may yet be too weak to resist the temptation to divulge. Obtain consent.
Treat all netizens as you would wish to be treated. Consider how you would feel if malicious posts were made about you. Do not troll or flame, nor indulge in rumours or gossip. There is enough to laugh at without being mean. Be wary of virals.
Allow other people a forum. Even weirdos and technophobes have their views. However, question everything, take nothing at face value. Make friends online but do not trust anyone or any site or app just because they appear alright. You will always meet fakes and con artists. Learn a bit about how the technology works. Use tools that will protect you and and your data; they are often free.
Do not hack or steal someone’s work, however much fun that may be. Other people, even companies, have their rights: though you may not agree with their methods, there are other ways to protest. Yet bear in mind that the powerful often abuse their position. Campaign for the causes you wish; you have a right to speak up.
Try to produce content, not just consume. Anyone can contribute to their local or global culture. Learn. It has never in the history of humankind been easier to learn about everything, as it is now. Teach what you know, reaching out beyond your everyday circles. Praise the efforts of others.
The digital world is here for you to enjoy however you may choose: do not let anyone tell you otherwise, but exercise caution and self-discipline. You will make mistakes; and you may access things of which you will be ashamed. Be gentle with yourself as with others. Forgive yourself and move on.
Don’t lose heart in the dark side of the web. Although it may not always appear so, no doubt our tech culture is unfolding as it should and a great age of connectivity is upon us. As in the real world, that which we feed, will grow. Therefore be a positive force.
You are a child of the times and you have a right to be here: more so than the government and corporations and banks. Do not surrender your privacy and freedom to those who would deny them. It is your Internet, not theirs.
For all its dangers and downtime, its phoneys and filth, it is still a beautiful net.
Be careful. Strive to LOL.
- Roy Hair, 2012
Creative Commons Licence Digiderata by Roy Hair is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at
Original Desiderata by Max Ehrmann available here:

My New Job …. Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie? Or the Mouse that Roared!

With the Christmas hiatus lending me some spare time before the New Year staggers in like a tornado, I felt it would be timeous to blog about my new role within the council. Thinking about it I admit to an empathy with the coulter in the Burns’ poem, looking forward, and planning, but also guessing and fearing. As long as events don’t take a turn for the worse making me more comparable to the mouse I will be happy!

My new job title is “Systems and Performance Manager” within the Corporate Infrastructure service. It is a 4th tier management post, answering directly to the Head of Service. There are 4 managers at my level in Corporate Infrastructure. My broad remit is to manage all the IT Applications Systems; ICT Security; our Web Sites and Services;  Transformational / eGovernment initiatives; and the council’s Estates functions, including Estates Management; Estates Surveying; and Land Surveying.

No, you read that right…this is not solely an IT job. It still sounds a bit odd to say it, but we don’t have an “IT Services” any longer. Since the recent restructure and service review, our IT and Asset functions have become merged into one combined Infrastructure service. This should improve communication and planning across these (largely internal support) services, resulting in both efficiencies for the department and service improvements for our clients.

My remit is a wide one and I will have to take on areas of responsibility that I never would have imagined picking up, outwith the role of my traditional IT background. In addition to this expansion into new technical, or discipline-based areas, it is certain that I’ll also have to mentally encompass a new range of issues and new relationships with my staff, my peers and my own management. It’s going to be a period of enormous change both for me, the organisation, and in the whole UK public sector.

With budget cuts and reducing staff numbers, we have to make big savings wherever we can, and in common with other organisations both public and private, we must fight to maintain service delivery. The wider economic outlook is “drear,” as Burns says, but I am continually impressed to find many clever and hard-working people in East Ayrshire Council. We’re well-placed to meet the challenges.

Although there are tough times ahead, it’s also been a difficult time for me over the past few months. After a tiring period of uncertainty the Christmas break is certainly very welcome! Looking back at the entire process of job advertisement, application and interviews, December has the bleak emotional cast of one of life’s traumas. It seems like one of those fearful, fey dreams you might suffer as a fever takes hold! Burns captures the shiver up the spine engendered by the memory: “…I backward cast my e’e, On prospects drear!…” For a fella that’s been pretty much settled for almost 15 years, it was a trying period; and retains the spirit of a rite-of-passage of some kind.

Job applications and interviews are almost a bizarre way to decide on internal appointments when you think about it, however I don’t know of another way. Happily, the plan in this case did not “go agley” and – notwithstanding the challenge ahead – I was well chuffed with the outcome. I must mention too, my colleagues throughout the council whose kindness and support have been just amazing.

So – new year, new job. I’m looking forward to getting stuck-in, in earnest. Not without a healthy measure of caution of course! I took a few minutes to look over some of the topics my remit covers and had a reaction like the mouse…”O, what a panic’s in my breastie!”

LOL!  an’ aa that. Bring it!


Todays photos in the snow

A morning walk round Dean Castle Country Park and a snowman in the garden. A productive day!

See Photo Album

The Web is dead – interesting article on Wired

The Web is Dead

Wired publishes a great set of articles this month on the future of the Internet: With the rise of apps, paywalls or partitions like Facebook taking over large swathes of internet users and their time, the once-free net is being gradually divided up between big players.

The open Web-based freedoms to create, share and enjoy are being appropriated by proprietary behemoths – or beasts, if you harbour an eschatological bent – that will stamp on real liberties while permitting apparent freedoms in order to collate our consumer habits and our very souls in their vast, intrusive databases.

It comes just as Google – yes, even Google,  the “don’t be evil” custodian of inter-liberty – is proposing to redefine the principle of net neutrality so that some content (and providers) is prioritised over that of the little guys. ~So the protesters in the streets are saying. The small startups, the independent bloggers, the free-speakers, will find their ability to make their mark on the world compromised, gradually and insidiously. The big traditional media will once again own our hearts and minds, telling us what to think and who to believe and how to live, how to vote; and what to buy.

Will it come to pass? Is there anything we can do to stop it? It’s a great set of articles. Read it and weep:

London Borough of Camden’s new website design

The excellent Liz Azyan unveils the LBC’s new website design on her blog at LGEO Research

It’s worth a look!

Jon Harvey’s 300 Ideas to improve efficiency, effectiveness & economy

Jon Harvey (johnharveyassociates)  in the Efficiency Exchange has collated over 300 ideas for change from many sources including many council officers. This consists of a pdf extract of his blog ( )

small and creative ideas with big results

The most useful ideas include:

  • Peterborough’s Transformation programme
    • Systems Thinking (Vanguard method)
  • Birmingham City Council’s in-house change
  • management consultancy
    Sunday, May 17, 2009
    The demands on councils, both in terms of the efficiency drive and changing nature of
    local government, means specialist transformational skills are essential. Birmingham City
    Council is managing change by developing an in-house consultancy service. This is
    supporting staff to find and train for new positions where roles become obsolete.
    Key learnings for other councils
    • Communication is essential – use all appropriate means to explain to staff what is
    • Support departments that are losing valuable members of staff to the change
    • Challenge traditional practice – ambition and imagination are essential.
    • Make your in-house services accessible – internal web pages and dedicated project
    officers are important
    There is more about this great initiative at:

    Further information
    • Glen Knott, Senior HR Practitioner
    • Birmingham City Council
    • telephone: 0121 303 2433
    • email:

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Hampshire Home Working video


This just seems to be the same type of technology that we use for our remote access tokens. The only possible difference might be that they are combining it with wireless access dongles so people can access the network from their laptops anywhere.

It’s promoting a technology solution but the other HR / H&S issues etc have still to be addressed.


This video looks at how Hampshire County Council has worked with Juniper Networks to implement a secure remote access solution called Hanstnet Passport.  The passport system has reduced the need for travel and substantially saved on office space by enabling staff to work from home and multiple office locations.

Click here to view the video on the site:

Working with Juniper Networks has also enabled the council to safeguard sensitive data stored on shared networks thereby improving collaboration with external partners without compromising security.

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Council tax rebates possible reward for citizens who help…

Lambeth council to offer Council Tax rebates to citizens who help run services.
The Labour-run “co-operative council” is trialling the idea which may be an election pledge for Labour at the next election. They are calling it a “John Lewis” council.

Lambeth has set up a citizens’ commission to consult residents over what services could be delivered collaboratively, and how those involved could receive an “active citizen’s dividend”, possibly a council tax rebate.

The council has launched a wiki website, on the model of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, where officials and residents can jointly write and edit policy ideas, which within hours gained its first contributors. Ideas are also being sought via Twitter and Facebook.

From the Guardian:

A key impetus to the new model was the prospect of swingeing funding cuts, said the council leader, Steve Reed, which left Lambeth – one of the UK’s most deprived areas – facing unpalatable options including reduced services or council tax rises. Earlier co-operative ventures such as tenant-managed housing estates and the transformation of a crumbling former comprehensive school into a community-run sport and culture centre showed there was another option, he said.

“What we hope is that this can actually produce more effective services for less cost. It’s not a universal panacea, but it’s a model we already know works. We don’t have all the answers, which is why we’re asking all these questions. But we do have an idea of the basic principles.”

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