Very Early Mercury Rev advert

Sorting through a box of old cassettes the other day, I found a recording of the first Mercury Rev gig that I ever attended – brought back some memories, to say the least. The gig was at the Duchess of York in Leeds (long since closed), and I remember singer David Baker started the gig at the bar, then took an age to fight his way through the crowd to the stage.

Anyways, here is an advert for that tour and their first UK single, Car Wash Hair. Hit it, crickets!Mercury Rev advert from 1991


Football Results Database – Prologue

I guess you should always blog about something you know about, so I’m going to start rambling on about databases and (American) Football. Many years ago, I had to choose a topic for my Computer Studies O-level. I came up with two options – a London Underground route-planner or a database to store NFL results. I chose the later, after my 15-year-old brain couldn’t figure out shortest-path algorithms (strange that I should end up specializing in traffic-assignment algorithms, but that’s another story).

My results database was written for my BBC micro, using BBC basic. I was very proud of the fact that it didn’t contain a single GOTO statement! It didn’t actually use a proper database either – these were the days before MySQL.

Here’s how it worked;

  • Each team was given a two-letter code to save you having to type in its full name every time. Tampa Bay was “TB”, San Francisco was “SF”. I realised that there were quite a few teams that could have used the “CB” code – Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns or Cincinnati Bengals. I think I decided Chicago got “CB”.
  • You typed in the two-letter code of the home team, then the number of points score Repeat for the away team.
  • The program then saved all the results to disk, and would generate the league standings. It even could take into account some of the NFL’s complicated tie-breaker procedures.
  • It could also show each week’s results in a nice MODE7 table, just like on teletext.

So, I’m now going to create a similar program using PHP and MySQL, and, hopefully, learn something new.

Bradley’s Helmet Call

A topic that I will probably return to many times, and a suitable one for my initial blog post – cycle helmets!

Up until a few days ago, Bradley Wiggins was a hero of mine. Winning le Tour, being a nice-chap, having a huge collection of guitars – all things I can only dream of. But, after winning his Gold Medal in the time trial at the Olympics, was asked to comment on the tragic death of a cyclist just outside the Olympic Park. One thing he seemed to suggest was that helmet wearing should be compulsory (

The first thing that sprung to mind was why was he even being asked for his views? Is Jenson Button asked to comment every time someone is hurt in a car crash? Is Paula Ratcliffe asked for her views whenever someone gets run over? Bradley is a sportsman – a great sportsman – but he is not, as far as I know, a road safety expert.

This seems to part of the media’s (and, by association, the Great British Public’s) inability to disentangle the sport of cycling from the everyday activity of riding a bike. Things that apply to one do not apply to the other, and, just as Formula 1 racing is very different to driving down to the Co-Op, everyday cycling is very different to the type of cycling Bradley does.

Anyway, I disagree with Bradley’s idea, and later reports state that Bradley claims he was misunderstood. Fair enough.

Here are my ideas for how cycling can be made safer (in no particular order);

  1. lower (and enforced) speed limits on residential and urban streets
  2. a commitment from highway authorities to filling in potholes
  3. if cycle facilities are to be installed (I remain unconvinced as to whether they are actually a good thing), they must meet the published guidelines
  4. no-fault liability for motorists
  5. blind-spot mirrors on all large vehicles
  6. cycle training to be made available to everyone who wants it
  7. a lower drink-drive limit
  8. enforcement of existing traffic laws (especially those regarding mobile-phone use and overtaking on double-white lines)
  9. conversion of large roundabouts to continental geometries
  10. cyclist-awareness refresher courses for drivers of buses and HGVs