Monthly archives of “September 2016

Flocking icons

When I was a kid, and because I was that sort of kid, I remember watching an Open University programme that explained emergent behaviour: that huge whirling flocks of birds and impossibly dazzling, twisting shoals of fish might seem complex, but each individual was following a couple of deeply simple rules about movement and maintaining a particular distance from others. I was particularly struck when some crude computer graphics demonstrated this; the simple points following these rules and moving through a 3D volume, big white pixels on a bulging CRT, did indeed look exactly like flocking animals as they wheeled and bunched and flowed round obstacles. The idea of emergence is one that I kept thinking about in the decades since, that from very simple rules awesome and seemingly unknowable complexity can arise. viagra no rx

Anyway; I was thinking about it again yesterday as I was using the iPhone’s turn-by-turn directions when driving; it’s not an example of emergence as such, but it suddenly occurred to me that the algorithm by which Maps decides when to hide and show labels and details – which are constantly shifting and changing as you move – probably has at its heart a flocking behaviour that governs optimal information density and stops labels crashing into each other. can buy viagra over counter boots

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You’re not wrong; you’re just an asshole

Recently I got a parking fine. This was because I was parked somewhere at which I had to display a ticket (even for the allowed free duration) and I was not displaying a ticket, so the fine was completely correct. However, I appealed, sending the below covering note.

Hello, folks. We got a penalty notice yesterday, and I’m not challenging that the ticket is correct; we were parked and weren’t displaying a ticket, and if you reject this appeal of course I’ll pay. I would like to explain, though, that it wasn’t out of malice, and we were within the free parking period. My wife and I were taking our baby daughter swimming for the first time at the Olympia pool, and we were a bit stressed and anxious, and as we juggled bags, baby and plans for making the experience as smooth as possible for her as we got out of the car, we just forgot to get a ticket for free parking. About 45 minutes later we came out, went to Marks & Spencer to get lunch, and only as we were walking back to the car I spotted the pay stations and I suddenly realised I had forgotten to get a pay-and-display ticket. We were parked well within the free time allowed, but just forgot to get a ticket to confirm. Time-stamped receipt from pool attached; sorry, we didn’t take a receipt from M&S. Thanks for your time.

My appeal was rejected, and this was the explanatory letter I got from UK Parking Control Ltd.

Dear Mr Phin,

Thank you for your recent communication concerning the above Parking Charge. Please rest assured that our Appeals Manager has personally reviewed this case and carefully considered the various points raised. Our view, however, is that these particular circumstances are neither unreasonable nor unjust and so we will not be waiving this parking charge in full.

As per our client’s instruction, all vehicles must display a valid pay and display ticket to park within this area. Unfortunately when your vehicle was photographed no valid ticket was being displayed. Your vehicle was left unattended on Private Property, therefore giving you no authorisation to park. There are sufficient signs warning vehicle drivers that should they park their vehicle without displaying a valid ticket this will result in a Parking Charge being issued to the vehicle.

You will be aware from the Parking Charge that we offer a discount for parking charges paid within 14 days. As you lodged an appeal, we are prepared to extend this period for another 14 days from the date of this letter. But if we do not receive your remittance at the reduced rate of £60.00 within this period, the full amount will then become payable and we will put the matter in the hands of our Debt Recovery Agents.

We appreciate that this is not the outcome you will have hoped for. Unless you have any additional information that you have not already brought to our attention, this decision is final. Although further correspondence will be noted and filed, please do not expect any response from us except where you have provided new evidence to substantiate your case.

We hope you will take advantage of the extended discount period and will send your remittance promptly. Yours faithfully,

And so, of course, I paid the sixty quid, because to paraphrase The Dude, UKPC isn’t wrong; it’s just a shower of officious, unpleasant little assholes.