Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for April 16th, 2008


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Guardian video

Forty years ago this was new. This was the place that planning students (including me) were taken to on their field trips. One of my work colleagues at the GLC lived here – and suffered a nervous breakdown.

The language that is being used ( “Gateway”, “iconic buildings”) is very familiar. When built it was public housing (a GLC estate in fact). Now it is a “housing trust”. It has some similarities to the “projects” but seems to have avoided the designation “sink estate” although maybe that was a close call that has not yet been completely avoided. I thought it fascinating that the four/five storey flats were replaced part way through construction with something very like the terraced houses that had been pulled down as “slums” giving rise to the need for the development in the first place.

I must admit I was quite surprised how positive the oldies are now, and how distance appears to have added a roseate glow to their memories. Very infrequent bus service was the least of the complaints I heard back then.

The location is the Thames Estuary. The land used to be part of the MoD Woolwich Arsenal – and was still blank on many OS maps – which made our job a bit tricky at times. There was supposed to have been a Golden Ears style bridge here – the East London River Crossing (still not built) – connecting the North and South Circular Roads, but the Woolwich Free Ferry is still the link. And I suspect that these days the ecological value of the marsh that was there would be very differently viewed now

Written by Stephen Rees

April 16, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Urban Planning

“In a world without walls and fences, who needs Windows and Gates”

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This post is going to be about operating systems and open source software. It has nothing whatever to do with the declared intention of this blog but I make no apology.

This morning I came across a new (to me) WordPress blog that I immediately added to my bookmarks and the blogroll. One of the best sources of views in recent days has been the home page. I don’t not know how I come to be there – and I do not see myself there when I go to it. So I suppose there must be some clever code that decides what to show me that I do not already know about – like my own blog. So I look around and find Linux Owns.

It has a number of things useful to Ubuntu and other Linux distro users. But what I want you to look at is Why the normal pc user should try ubuntu. It does much better than I could what I think needs to be done. If you are still captive to Microsoft, you need to break free. And Ubuntu is the way to do it. (I did try Knoppix but I cannot recommend that in good conscience as it drove me nuts: it may have got better since, but Ubuntu is now much more popular).

You do not have to give up Windows. This machine I am typing on now still has XP – because the hardest thing for me to do is to forget old software, not learn new ones. And there are some things that I know how to do that are easy and work, and are frankly not worth climbing the learning curve again for. But you should know if you use Open Source software (like Open Office) you can still easily use files that need to be used by others on Windows systems.

Linux is free. Ubuntu can be run from a CD. You do not have to give up anything. You can try it risk free.

What are you waiting for?

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming

Written by Stephen Rees

April 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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Today’s Sun Stories

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There are a number of things reported today that fit the brief of this blog. But most do not require much commentary. I have already updated the recent post on truckers as another crackdown, this time in Vancouver, reveals more neglect and danger to us all.

Carol James has an opinion piece on the carbon tax.

there’s a right way and a wrong way to price carbon. The right way is to listen to the people affected, address their concerns and take action. The wrong way is to work in secrecy, ride roughshod over concerns, and lash out when people dare to complain.

But that’s what they do on everything else. The one exception appeared to be health. (And by the way have you tried to watch tv news at 6pm here lately? The CBC is of course given over to hockey, and Campbell is all over Global and their fund raising drive for Children’s hospital. I am quite sure there are some advanced western countries that manage to build an adequate hospital system without resorting to fund raising telethons.)

Kevin Falcon thinks he cannot tell BC Ferries to roll back the huge pay increase for their Board members. Vaughan Palmer disagrees

Spirit of Vancouver Island Active Pass BC 2007_0909_0755

Spirit of Vancouver Island Active Pass BC 2007.09.09 07:55

Ecodensity is going to get affordable housing added. Well they had better get a move on as the landlords in Vancouver seem to be intent on pulling the same trick that worked so well in Richmond. (A long running story in our local press last year was of an apartment building on Gilbert Road, opposite the hospital, where tenants were evicted and harassed for the same purpose, and there were several successful appeals to the provincial regulator. So far as I can tell these local freebies don’t have on line archives)

2600 block W4th Ave
A one bedroom apartment in this condo building on West 4th listed yesterday for over $450k. A good example of higher density mixed use development but not exactly affordable. But the coffee is really good in Cornerstone: regular cappuccino $3

And Translink police are going to be added to the Taser enquiry. Of course: they are armed now, and they use their arms, so it is absolutely proper that they be made accountable for their use. The copper they use as a PR flack did not handle this one well. Or at all.

UPDATE 2:06PM There is a much better account in the Globe and Mail

and (4:20pm) more criticism on CBC

Written by Stephen Rees

April 16, 2008 at 11:13 am