Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Big Brother is watching.... Closely!

Going out and about for a simple walk or bikeride could involve more technology than you think.... Here's why

I came across this novel little website at the Google Earth blog.

Its called Magnalox, and it allows anyone with a compatible GPS system to upload the GPS files from the unit and then create an online recreation of the trip itself.

If that wasn't cool enough, you can use Google Earth or Google Map overlays so that you can 'instant replay' your trip from Google's impressive 'Eye in the Sky'. You can even download the trip as a 'KMZ' file and view it in Google Earth itself! Could this possibly get any better? Actually yes it does!

Not content with just allowing you to re-live your 40 mile bike ride, you can even upload pictures and text from your trip. Its almost like blog based on your journey! The pictures and texts even 'trigger' at the appropriate places along the way too.

As soon as I saw all of these impressive web-based features, I dusted off my Garmin GPS III+ unit and nipped to Scan in Bolton to buy a Serial to USB converter and then downloaded a little Mac util called 'LoadMyTracks' which can download the information from my GPS handset. I was all set then, any GPS data that I logged was readydy to be used in Magnalox.

So after I was all set to go I nipped out in the car and drove round a small route just to record a small journey for me to upload. I also took a few piccies along the way for good measure and after a few mins fiddling with the website, by Jove! It works!


I'm going to use this to plot some of this summers bike rides as my GPS unit acts as my speedo on board (I have the only PC compatible push bike in Wigan!)

So watch out for some pretty nifty blog articles on my biking trips, including GPS data, pictures and text... If I've any energy left to type!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Yorkshire Dales trip

With no 'real' camera on hand (very remiss!) I had to make do with my mobile today as I was back in Yorkshire visiting the magnificent limestone pavement near Ingleborough.

After a nice drive around the area and a great pup pool competition and lunch, we headed off for a walk over the pavement. Its so strange to see this completely natural phenomenon which spans for miles in the shadow of the massive Pen-y-Ghent. It was formed about 15,000 years ago when a huge sheet of ice smoothed over miles of rough limestone, chiseling out the valley as it moved on. The power needed to do this is simply amazing.

I took a few pictures and also tried a short vlog too. It's a great place if you're ever nearby.

Here's a proper pic as well (Taken last year on my trusty film 'rangefinder')

Limestone Pavement

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A mini update for my blog

It's goodbye to the old and hello to the new as I decided to bite the bullet and trade in my car today.

In an attempt to re-live my joyus days of motoring in my old fiesta zetec-s, I have decided to go for a car with a bit more bite. I've gone for the Mini Cooper-S.

I went looking at them last year and decided then that the mini was basically the car for me so when I heard that my friend had one in his garage, I decided to nip over and sort the necessary paperwork as quickly as possible, before someone else did.

Minis have always been very fun to drive and this one is no exception. Although most of the 1950's ones spluttered and coughed their way towards 50, the top speed on offer here is a cool 140mph which is delivered through a 1.6 litre 172bhp engine. With 0-60 in 7 seconds, there's nothing 'mini' about this cars capabilities, its fast. Speed aside though, the car is great to drive with sports type handling and 17-inch, run-flat alloys which negates the need for a spare. Its probably just as well too, the boot is tiny, you'd have to have it on your lap!

I only had a quick test drive today but suffice to say I can't wait until the weekend when I pick her up. For anyone whos interested in what it looks like in the showroom, heres the pics...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter video

Happy easter to everyone for 2006!

As part of the easter service at church, I made this video which was used at the start of the service. I decided to share it online too.

I hope you have a very peaceful holiday

Friday, April 07, 2006

Local UK elections 2006

Its almost time to vote and as ever, I'm completely confused by what's on offer. I don't doubt that each of the parties genuinely believe that they can take the country to a better 'place' even if the ride can get bumpy but how does an average 'thirty-something' such as myself choose who to get on board with?

What do the parties really believe and why should I support one over another, or in fact, why should I support any of them?

I decided that in our fabulously democratic society, I would give each of the parties the chance to explain to me, not just why my vote is important but also why I should vote for them in particular. I wrote the following email which I sent to the three main parties.


Good day,

My name is Paul Hurst, I am 30 years old and I live in Greater Manchester.

I am writing to you today with a certain degree of political confusion as to where to make my mark in the upcoming elections. It may just be me but it seems to be really hard to understand what the real differences are these days as everyone seems to clamour for the middle ground on most issues. This may appeal to many but for people such as myself it makes it really difficult. I'm looking past a single election, I'm trying to choose a party. So thats why I'm emailing today.

I have decided to offer each of the three main political parties the chance to explain what's what and as I'm a keen 'blogger' I am also keeping a track of things online at

Should you wish to arrange for a party representative to contact me, you may email me at I will be happy to travel and ultimately I would like to 'blog' my political journey right to Westminster as I earnestly seek to cut through rhetoric and political flannel to find out where my political allegiances should lie.

I am an unbiased person who enters this little experiment with no political leanings. Hopefully I will be able to get some answers as to why politics is important to me and sixty million others.

Hoping for a reply,

Paul Hurst


Right, so that email has gone to (in alphabetical order):

Conservatives: Mr David Cameron MP (the website seemed to encourage this and the other options didn't quite fit the bill)

Labour Party: (took ages to find this address tucked away under the 'links' section)

Lib dems:

I'll be keeping you all up to date with what happens and you may expect some updates to this ongoing story...

As a side issue, I've also posted this to Nick Robinson who's chief political ed at the BBC. He blogs too and his is here.

Exclusive to this blog is the 'Politics'o'meter' Its a graphical representation as to how I'm being swayed. Make sure you look at the most recent incarnation to see how I'm being swayed.

Here there's a very slight edge to the Tories after I found it really easy to submit my email and felt a degree of importance as it was marked for Mr Cameron's attention whereas it was quite difficult to find the details for Labour, Lib dems are static as theirs was neither inspirational nor difficult.

Watch the Tories score plummet though if my email falls into the emptiness of Mr Cameron's cyberspace...