28 April 2022

Campaign for motorcycles to have default bus lane access

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) is today launching a new campaign for default bus lane access.  New research shows that motorcycles can currently use 48% of all ‘with-flow’ bus lanes in the UK.  MAG say it is time for local authorities to stop debating and start delivering.

MAG has released a new report that for the first time collates UK-wide information on motorcycle access in bus lanes.  The report shows that of the 159 local transport authorities with bus lanes, just 56 allow motorcycle access. 

Report author Colin Brown said: “This research has revealed the successes of three decades of campaigning by MAG on this issue.  Given the complexity and stumbling blocks placed between a coherent national policy and a totally unnecessary exclusion of motorcycles from bus lanes, we have done well to gain access to 48% of the nation’s bus lanes.  We have also shown the ludicrous situation where access permissions change along certain routes or in opposite directions on the same road.  We have had three decades of expensive local trials but the overwhelming result of all these is that motorcycle access to bus lanes is not a problem.  It is time for a consistent default access for motorcycles, just as already exists informally for pedal cycles.”

A petition has been raised by Birmingham-based barrister Dr Mirza Ahmad asking the Government to require local authorities in England to permit motorcycles in bus lanes.  MAG is asking motorcyclists – and indeed all road users – to sign the petition.

UPDATE (otherwise known as cop-out) 1st July 2022Government responded: The Department already prescribes traffic signs that enable local authorities to allow motorcycles to use bus lanes during their hours of operation. Whether to do so is a decision for them... Anyone that would like to request motorcycle use in bus lanes in England should approach their local traffic authority. Read the response in full


OFCOM: latest broadband, landline, mobile - complaints revealed

Ofcom has just (27 April 2022) published the latest league tables reflecting complaints we receive about the UK’s major home phone, broadband, mobile and pay-TV firms.

The quarterly report reveals the number of complaints made to Ofcom between October and December last year.

Complaints figures overall decreased slightly over this period and remain at all-time low levels.

Nearly all providers across all sectors reduced or maintained the same level of complaints from the previous quarter.

In summary, the data shows that:

Shell Energy generated the most broadband complaints, mainly driven by faults and service issues;

Alongside TalkTalk, Shell Energy was also the most complained-about landline provider;

Sky and EE attracted the fewest complaints for broadband and landline services;

EE, Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, iD Mobile and BT Mobile all generated the fewest pay-monthly mobile complaints;

Virgin Mobile and Vodafone were the most complained-about mobile operators; and

Sky also had the fewest complaints about pay-TV, with Virgin Media attracting the most.


Elite Motorcycle Rider Training - become a better rider

The Elite Rider Programme has been created by MCIA, road safety and training experts, government departments and respected associated organisations. The aims of the initiative are to increase the number of riders undertaking post-test rider training, and to motivate riders to ride considerately toward other road users and the environment.

To support the Elite Rider Training Initiative, this hub has been launched. This platform will be a “one stop shop” where riders will be able to find a wealth of information and support to improve their skills. The Hub contains information and contact details of the nationally available post-test rider training schemes, with advice for riders, and links to book training. This makes it easier for riders to identify the most suitable post-test training opportunities. This will benefit many road safety professionals and industry colleagues who can point riders to the Elite Rider Hub, rather than listing numerous links to different post-test training providers.

With a broad range of organisations supporting the initiative, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise, there has never been such a large group so focussed on working together to ensure riders can easily access information and services, to improve their riding and make them safer road users.


BT moving to EE brand as household ISP

BT is to be phased out as a "flagship" brand for millions of consumers as the former state-owned phone monopoly seeks to see off rivals in the fierce broadband market.

The BT Group has said that it will instead focus on promoting its EE division, in sweeping reforms that will spark fears the company's much-loved BT television adverts are to be consigned to history.

It is keeping BT as the primary brand for business customers and a spokesman said that there are no plans to change the company's name.


26 April 2022

Government debates vehicle "Anti Tampering" legislation

Parliament has today (25th April 2022) debated a petition, which opposes potential new regulations against so called vehicle 'anti tampering'. The petition; ‘Do not implement proposed new offences for vehicle "tampering"’ was tabled by Gareth James and attracted more than 115,000 signatures making it eligible for a parliamentary debate.

The original proposals were revealed in a consultation on 'The Future of Transport Regulatory Review – Modernising Vehicle Standards' during 2021.

This consultation proved to be highly controversial, generating wide attention in the motorcycle world and the media, given how the wording in the consultation was interpreted by the wider public. It was worded in such a way that suggests that all types of modifications of motorcycles will be outlawed. It also went further by proposing to outlaw the marketing, promotion and sale of ‘tampering services or products’. The NMC and other motorcycling organisations responded to the consultation, rejecting the proposals and called on the government to clarify, in detail, what it means by ‘tampering’.

Watch the debate here, and especially listen to Steve Baker MP (from the ~25 minute mark) explain how the unintended consequences of poorly drafted legislation - might make criminals of us all! Trudy Harrison MP responds @ ~43mins. Further info to follow later this year - watch this space... You can read the full transcript of this debate HERE. The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) comments HERE.

On the subject of heinous acts of motoring illegality: washing your car in Germany! (Thanks for your input RobL)


21 April 2022

Update from Kim: Day 50 - I did 65 miles in 50 days!


Hi everyone

I did it! Am so thrilled that I managed to complete 65 miles in 50 days and to smash the 50 miles target. 

I wanted to end on a high so last night I did my first ever 5 mile run and thankfully I wasn't aching too much today. Don cycled alongside me which was lovely company.

It's been a 16 week journey from doing the 'Couch to 5k' training for 9 weeks and then the 'Time to Run' event for 7 weeks from 1 March-19 April and I'm determined to keep running. 

I am so grateful to all of you for your support.

I'm up to £1100 incl. gift aid, all going to a very worthy cause.

Also, a big well done to my 'South Central Scampers' team colleagues Anita, Gill and Kay. 

We did it!!

With love and grateful thanks Kim xxx


Another step towards a common mains adapter?...


MEPs support a common charger for portable electronic devices, reducing e-waste and making the use of different mobile phones, tablets and digital cameras more convenient.

On Wednesday the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee adopted its position on the revised Radio Equipment Directive with 43 votes in favour (2 against).

The new rules would make sure consumers no longer need a new charger and cable every time they purchase a new device, and can use one charger for all of their small and medium-sized electronic gadgets. Mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, rechargeable via a wired cable, would have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of the manufacturer. Exemptions would apply only for devices that are too small to have a USB Type-C port, such as smart watches, health trackers, and some sports equipment.

This revision is part of a broader EU effort to address product sustainability, in particular of electronics on the EU market, and to reduce electronic waste.


Amazon EU paid no income tax on €51 billion of sales in 2021


The company says corporation tax is based on profits, not revenues, and last year it made a loss. Despite revenues topping €51.3 billion in 2021, Amazon's European retail segment reported €1.16 billion loss, allowing the company to avoid paying income tax in Europe.

The Luxembourg-based unit also received €1 billion in tax credits, corporate filings seen by Bloomberg showed.

Amazon EU Sarl generated sales of €43.8 billion in 2020, which comprised income from e-commerce activities in the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Poland and the Netherlands.

An Amazon representative told Bloomberg that the company was not legally required to pay taxes because it made a loss after investing heavily in European infrastructure and jobs.

After spending stacks of dough with Amazon over many years, nowadays I'm actively avoiding spending any money with them. How about trying to be a good corporate citizen, Amazon?...


19 April 2022

Windows 11 usage stats within touching distance of... XP!


Windows 11 is continuing to struggle both in the enterprise and at home, according to figures published by IT asset management platform Lansweeper. Disappointingly for Microsoft, it has yet to even surpass Windows XP.

Lansweeper's figures come from a scan of 10 million PCs, 20 percent enterprise and 80 percent consumer. The latter comes from the company's Fing acquisition, a network scanning and discovery app.

It makes for grim reading from Microsoft's perspective. Upgrades might have tripled over the last three months, according to Lansweeper, but we'd contend that Windows 11 was starting from a pretty low base.

April's snapshot has Windows 11 on 1.44 percent of Windows machines surveyed. The long-dead XP and recently culled Windows 7 were on 1.71 percent and 4.7 percent respectively. Windows 8 only accounted for 1.99 percent while Windows 10 squatted on an impressive 80.34 percent of systems.


17 April 2022

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; Jesus has risen! Happy Easter!

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Happy Easter!

14 April 2022

Office 2013 end of support: Reduce your exposure to security risks by moving to a newer version of Office

After five years of Mainstream Support, and five years of Extended Support, Office 2013 will reach the End of Extended Support on April 11, 2023. Per the Fixed Lifecycle Policy, after this date security updates for Office 2013 will no longer be available. 

Microsoft recommends that you upgrade to Microsoft 365 Apps, which includes the Office apps you are familiar with (such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook).

If you don’t have Office 2013 deployed in your environment, you can safely disregard this message.

NOTE: Office 2013 will reach the End of Support on the 11th April 2023


11 April 2022

Pink Floyd - Hey Hey Rise Up (feat. Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Boombox)

Here is the official video for 'Hey Hey Rise Up', Pink Floyd’s new Ukraine fundraiser feat Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Boombox. Stream / download at http://pinkfloyd.lnk.to/HeyHeyRiseUp

'Hey Hey Rise Up', released in support of the people of Ukraine, sees David Gilmour and Nick Mason joined by long time Pink Floyd bass player Guy Pratt and Nitin Sawhney on keyboards, all accompanying an extraordinary vocal by Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Ukrainian band Boombox. All proceeds go to Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief.

This is the first new original music that they have recorded together as a band since 1994’s The Division Bell.

The track uses Andriy’s vocals taken from his Instagram post of him in Kyiv’s Sofiyskaya Square singing ‘The Red Viburnum In The Meadow’, a rousing Ukrainian protest song written during the first world war. The title of the Pink Floyd track is taken from the last line of the song which translates as ‘Hey, hey, rise up and rejoice’.  The song’s opening choral parts are by Ukrainian VERYOVKA Folk Song and Dance Ensemble.

Gilmour, who has a Ukrainian daughter-in-law and grandchildren says: “We, like so many, have been feeling the fury and the frustration of this vile act of an independent, peaceful democratic country being invaded and having its people murdered by one of the world's major powers”.

Gilmour explains how he came to know Andriy and his band Boombox. “In 2015, I played a show at Koko in London in support of the Belarus Free Theatre, whose members have been imprisoned. Pussy Riot and the Ukrainian band, Boombox, were also on the bill. They were supposed to do their own set, but their singer Andriy had visa problems, so the rest of the band backed me for my set - we played Wish You Were Here for Andriy that night. Recently I read that Andriy had left his American tour with Boombox, had gone back to Ukraine, and joined up with the Territorial Defense. Then I saw this incredible video on Instagram, where he stands in a square in Kyiv with this beautiful gold-domed church and sings in the silence of a city with no traffic or background noise because of the war. It was a powerful moment that made me want to put it to music.” 

While writing the music for the track, David managed to speak with Andriy from his hospital bed in Kyiv where he was recovering from a mortar shrapnel injury. “I played him a little bit of the song down the phone line and he gave me his blessing. We both hope to do something together in person in the future.” 

Speaking about the track Gilmour says, “I hope it will receive wide support and publicity. We want to raise funds for humanitarian charities, and raise morale. We want express our support for Ukraine and in that way, show that most of the world thinks that it is totally wrong for a superpower to invade the independent democratic country that Ukraine has become.”

The video for ‘Hey Hey Rise Up’ was filmed by acclaimed director Mat Whitecross and shot on the same day as the track was recorded. David Gilmour “We recorded the track and video in our barn where we did all our Von Trapped Family live streams during lockdown. It's the same room that we did the 'Barn Jams' with Rick Wright back in 2007. Janina Pedan made the set in a day and we had Andriy singing on the screen while we played, so the four of us had a vocalist, albeit not one who was physically present with us.”

The artwork for the track features a painting of the national flower of Ukraine, the sunflower, by the Cuban artist, Yosan Leon. The cover of the single is a direct reference to the woman who was seen around the world giving sunflower seeds to Russian soldiers and telling them to carry them in their pockets so that when they die, sunflowers will grow.

Oyu luzi chervona kalyna pokhylylasya,
Chohos' nasha slavna Ukrayina zazhurylasya.
A my tuyu chervonu kalynu pidiymemo,
A my nashu slavnu Ukrayinu, hey-hey, rozveselymo!

Oh, in the meadow a red kalyna has bent down low,
For some reason, our glorious Ukraine is in sorrow.
And we'll take that red kalyna and we will raise it up,
And we shall cheer up our glorious Ukraine, hey - hey!


09 April 2022

Holy Week and Easter: The People, Places, and Events

Easter is the most significant event in the Christian church calendar. Without the events of Holy Week, there wouldn’t be a Christian faith. Easter is the reason the Christian church exists!

Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his execution on a Roman cross. That moment of resurrection is the core of Easter - but the days leading up to Easter are key parts of the story, too. The interplay of prophecy, friendship, betrayal, and grace during the final days before Jesus’ crucifixion is full of insight into human nature - and God’s love.

Have you read the Easter story recently? You’ve probably heard or read many of the most famous episodes in the Easter account, but it’s truly a story meant to be read as a coherent whole. In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to explore the Easter story.


06 April 2022

Kim's Update: 51 miles and only on day 36!

Time to Run 50 miles in 50 days for Parkinson's UK

I've done a 3 mile run tonight and reached my 50 miles target so really pleased. Hooray!

I've had an injury free week and the weather has been generally good. 

Thank you so much for sponsoring me and all the lovely messages I've received. It's all going to a great cause! The event finishes in 2 weeks on 19 April so I'll keep running and adding a few more miles to my total. Thanks again!


04 April 2022

Stamp price rises: First class postage is now 95p

The price of a first class stamp has risen by 10p to 95p as Royal Mail seeks to cover higher delivery costs while the number of letters being sent falls. Second class stamps have also increased by 2p to 68p.

Royal Mail said it was having to deliver to a growing number of addresses, which was adding to costs. But some people criticised the move at a time when the cost of living is increasing and the firm's profits have jumped.

The price of first and second class stamps have more than doubled since 2010, when they cost 41p and 32p respectively. In 2000, it was 27p and 19p.

Perhaps the actual reason for the huge percentage rise in the price of stamps is to cover the ~£1bn cost of attempting to put right the appalling Horizon scandal.