Monthly Archives: February 2017

  • Touting for trade

    Some time ago in a meeting with Bristol Waste, the council-owned company responsible for cleaning the city’s streets and emptying residents’ bins, it was revealed that the company wanted to try and find commercial customers for its services.

    Evidence has emerged that the company has now started seeking business customers for its collection services.

    Bristol Waste employees have started handing out flyers like the one below to local shops, businesses, voluntary and community sector organisations in the Easton area of the city, all of which are responsible for making their own waste disposal arrangements (and which can be fined by the city council if these are found not be exist or be suitable. Ed.).

    Bristol Waste trade flyer

    My informant from whom I acquired the flyer told me that Bristol Waste is trialling this scheme in Easton. This presumably follows the same line of thinking as that for the Stapleton Road waste trial (posts passim), which is generally along the lines of “if it works in Easton, we can get it to work anywhere in the city“. 🙂

    Update: Bristol Waste was contacted for a comment and replied as follows:

    We are speaking to businesses in a number of locations across the city including Stapleton Road, Bedminster & Avonmouth in this first phase of our commercial roll-out. The service will be available city-wide.

    In addition, the Bristol Waste website has a dedicated commercial page.

  • Hail to(o) the Chief?

    Besides his less endearing qualities of bullying, sexism and xenophobia, the 45th President of the United States of America is believed by some not to be very bright either, an opinion which is reinforced by the presence of a glaring typographical error in the text on his official inauguration portrait, which must at some time have passed across his desk for approval (or even been written by him. Ed.).

    Trump official inauguration photo

    Proof readers and the eagle-eyed will no doubt spot it immediately, unlike POTUS did.

    However, orthography and proof reading may be the least of President Typo’s worries at present. 🙂

  • After fake news, fake translation

    Fake news (also called misinformation or lies. Ed.) is a term that has come to prominence recently, even though its dissemination is a far older phenomenon.

    The goods and services which could be classed as fake have now been joined by another – “fake translation“. Kenya’s Nairobi News reports that a tour guide at the Serengeti National Park in neighbouring Tanzania has been arrested after incorrectly translating a tourist’s comments about the country and its people from English into Swahili.

    The guide is said to have been arrested on unspecified charges on Thursday on the orders of Tanzanian Tourism Minister Jumanne Mghembe.

    Still from videoIn an undated video clip, the tour guide translates what an English-speaking woman is saying and instead of conveying the original message’s meaning, decides to skew the visitor’s kind remarks about country completely.

    An example is given below.

    Visitor: “Hi. My visit to Tanzania has been beautiful and gorgeous. The people are fabulously wonderful and friendly. Greetings are always jambo. I am happy to be here. The land is beautiful, the animals are wonderful.

    Tour guide: You Tanzanians complain/cry a lot about hunger. Everyday you cry about hunger when you have flowers at home. Why don’t you boil the flowers and drink [them]. It is not good to cry/complain about hunger.

    The minister may have ordered the unnamed guide’s arrest as he felt the guide was either mocking the tourist or mimicking President John Magufuli, as some of the guide’s remarks echoed those used by the president at a rally last month when he called on people to stop complaining about hunger.

    Tanzania is popular with tourists due to its wildlife and stunning scenery and markets itself as “The Soul of Africa“.

  • LibreOffice 5.3 released

    Yesterday The Document Foundation announced the release of LibreOffice 5.3 for Windows, macOS and Linux, as well as for the private cloud for the first time.

    LibreOffice 5.3 represents a significant step forward in the evolution of this free and open source office suite: it introduces new features such as online collaborative editing and at the same time provides incremental improvements to make the program more reliable, interoperable and user-friendly.

    New features

    LibreOffice 5.3 offers a number of interesting new features in every area including:

    • a new cross-platform text layout engine that uses HarfBuzz for consistent text layout on all platforms, with significant advantages across languages and alphabets;
    • a revised Help menu, with new quick links to user guides and community support forums; and
    • better import/export filters for new and legacy MS Office documents.

    New features in Writer include:

    • Table Styles, for applying formatting to a table which is preserved when edited; and
    • new Go to Page Box (activated by keystrokes Ctrl+G) makes it possible to jump to another page in the document with fewer keystrokes.
    LibreOffice 5.3 Writer in action
    LibreOffice 5.3 Writer in action

    Turning to spreadsheets, Calc provides a new set of default cell styles, with greater variety and better names than in previous releases, whilst in fresh installations, “Enable wildcards in formulas” is now the default option, rather than regular expressions, to improve compatibility with other spreadsheet software.

    Impress, LibreOffice’s presentation package, now opens with a template selector to get the user off to a quick start. In addition, a new Slide Properties Deck is now available in the sidebar while in slide master mode.

    A list of the most significant new features is available in a separate document, in addition to which a series of short presentation videos has been produced.

    Experimental UI features

    As of this release, the LibreOffice UI has been extended with the addition of an experimental Notebookbar, which offers another UI option in addition to the Default UI (with two toolbars), the Single Toolbar UI and the Sidebar with a Single Toolbar. Each UI layout has been thought to serve a different cluster of LibreOffice users.

    LibreOffice Online

    LibreOffice 5.3 features the first source release of LibreOffice Online, a cloud office suite enabling basic collaborative editing of documents in a browser by re-using the LibreOffice “core engine”.

    LibreOffice Online is fundamentally a server service and should be installed and configured by adding a cloud storage and a SSL certificate, which are not included in the package.

    Builds of the latest LibreOffice Online source code are available as Docker images.


    LibreOffice 5.3 is available for immediate download (your correspondent has already moved onto an as yet unreleased development version. Ed.).

    However, for large scale and commercial deployments, The Document Foundation recommends the more mature 5.2.5 version (posts passim), preferably with professional support.

  • The shortest suicide note in history?

    Labour MP Gerald Kaufman is credited with coining the phrase “the longest suicide note in history” to describe his party’s 1983 election manifesto.

    Entitled “The New Hope for Britain“, the manifesto called amongst other things for unilateral nuclear disarmament, higher personal taxation for the rich, abolition of the House of Lords and the re-nationalisation of recently privatised industries such as British Telecom and British Aerospace.

    In that election, Labour’s vote fell by more than 3 million compared with 1979, with the party’s representation in the House of Commons declined from 261 to 209, whilst Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government enjoyed a 4% swing, buoyed up a wave of jingoistic fervour engendered by the conflict in the Falklands/Malvinas.

    Yesterday, the House of Commons started consideration of what could be termed “the shortest suicide note in history“. Commonly known as the “Brexit Bill“, its full title is the “European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2017“. Its purpose is grant the Prime Minister power to notify the European Union of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU following last year’s disastrous and divisive referendum called by the then Prime Minister David Cameron, who foolishly put the interests of his divided party above those of the country.

    The full text of the Bill as presented is set out below.


    Confer power on the Prime Minister to notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.

    Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

    Power to notify withdrawal from the EU
    (1)The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.

    (2)This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment.

    The Bill’s progress through both houses of Parliament promises to be interesting, as both major parties are still riven by pro- and anti-EU divisions, as the country still is.

    Finally, let’s not forget that those critical of the EEC/EC/EU, who came to be called “Eurosceptics“, were complaining even before the ink was dry on the Treaty of Accession, so it would be most unfair – and sense of fairness is allegedly an essential part of the British character – not to allow pro-Europeans (now being termed “Remoaners”. Ed.) an equally long period to express their views, however abhorrent those opposed to the EU, who are now termed “Brexiters“.