Limara Body Spray (part II), Stevie Vann, Stevie Lange, Remember My Name

The search continues…

I have had a few comments on my blog from my earlier post about Limara body sprays, and I am still looking for any footage of the (infamous?) advert from the 1980’s. If you know of it’s whereabouts…do let on!

In the mean time I have been fortunate enough to be sent an image from the ‘Remember My Name’ single sleeve.

Thanks to Erika from the Stevie Lange web site… more research to do! Click the icon below to hear a short audio clip…

M11 Hold up, M11 Traffic Jam, M11 Delay, Essex Police Errors, M11 Van fire

Were you on the M11 in Essex on 25th February 2006, travelling either north or south bound? Did you get on to the motorway easily enough, only to find a few miles later that it was gridlocked? Did you, like me, sit there for over five hours and wonder why Essex Police had allowed you on to the motorway in the first place? BBC news reported it as this, but it is a woefully inadequate description when you were part of it.

In the small hours of Saturday morning (25th Feb) there was a broken down lorry between junctions 7 and 6 (southbound). That’s between Harlow and the M25. A van came along to sort it out, but there was a fire (for whatever reason). The van happened to be carrying gas canisters and these are pretty dangerous when they get hot. As far as I can tell from radio reports, the breakdown happened at about 6am or so, and the fire was shortly after that. let’s say 7.30 for argument’s sake. Whatever the actual time, it was pretty early.

Essex police and fire brigade attended the incident, and the fire brigade, with all of their experience in these things, decided it was far too dangerous to allow any vehicles within 200yards of the fire. OK – no problem there.

However, at 10am when I joined the motorway heading south from Junction 8 there was no sign of anything wrong. No warning. No policeman, nothing. As I got on to the carriageway from the slip road a speed warning sign was showing ’40’ – this usually means there has been an accident and we should slow down. Three miles later and there was the back of the queue… at a complete standstill.

Today is my daughter’s birthday, and as a special treat we were taking her to see a show in London. She’s 9 and this was a big thing for her. The matinee starts at 2pm, and even at 10.10am I am thinking it is going to be OK… this is a minor problem and the police would not have let us on to the road if it was serious. The stretch between junction 8 and the next turn off is 12 miles – quite a long way, really.

A heck of a long way when it takes you over five hours to do the distance. Even longer when your daughter misses out on her special day, and even longer still when you lose ��200 of theatre tickets in the process.

So why did this happen?

At 7.30am the fire brigade informed the police that this was a major incident and no cars were to go past. What did the police do about that? They organised for cones to be placed on the M11 funnelling folk off the motorway at junction 7, and then did precisely nothing else. As a result, thousands of people joined at junction 8, or earlier, and were unaware of the delay ahead of them, with no chance of avoiding it. The police MUST have known the road was going to be closed, and yet did nothing to prevent people from joining at earlier junctions, or warning them of the delays before they got on to a stretch of road they couldn’t get off. All it needed was a patrol car at junction 8 stopping cars from joining, and another just before j8 giving cars a chance to use other routes to London or their own destinations. Instead, someone in the Police Force, with all their expensive training and years of experience thought it would be OK to allow folk on to the motorway and let them sit in a humungous queue.

And what do the police say about the problem? We heard from a radio reporter that they wanted to filter us off the motorway at Harlow (J7) but because cars were going along the hard shoulder they *couldn’t*.

That’s right – some selfish people driving along the hard shoulder prevented us all from getting off the motorway. Can you believe that? I certainly can’t. And even if it is true, what were the police doing about these blatant law breakers? Precisely nothing. And why were so many folk driving along the hard shoulder in the first place? Because the Police let them on to a road that was closed and they wanted to get off it as fast as they could. If they had been warned about the closure, perhaps they wouldn’t have got on the road in the first place.

Whichever way you look at it you and I (and anyone else caught in that mess) know it was lack of forethought or application of prior learning which caused me to miss my daughter’s birthday and lose ��200 of tickets.

But mine is a tiny part of the story.

We saw people arguing with the idiots driving along the hard shoulder, we saw children being carried away from their car and walking off to the next junction. We saw people young and old, male and female relieve themselves by the road side as time wore on – forced into indignity by the situation. We saw people leave their cars and return later with carrier bags full of provisions – some lucky folk had managed to get over the fences and walk into Harlow to shop at Tesco! We saw uncounted numbers of children bored to tears, parents at their wit’s end.

We heard on the radio how people missed their flights from Stansted, and how airlines were working hard to re-book the passengers, but worse was the story of a woman trying to get to Heathrow – she was emigrating today and had missed her flight. The airline said they wouldn’t re-book her ‘because they weren’t aware of there being adverse road conditions’. Right. Full marks to Czech airlines for that one.

So what else could the police have done?

Well before 11am (when folk were *still* allowed on to the road) they should have closed the junction. They should have also posted cars along the hard shoulder at various points (or at least posted officers) to stop the stupidity of people thinking they could jump the queue. They should (and could) have arranged for some of the central barriers to be unbolted and allow smaller vehicles through the gap to go back up to junction 8 and continue along alternative routes, reducing the number of people caught up in their mistake. They should have done the same for those folk stuck south of the M25 trying to head north, but at least those folk had the M25 to ‘escape’ to (not much of an escape route, I admit, but more chance of getting to your destination if you can at least leave the M11).

But no. We all had to go off at J7 and on to local roads there. All we could do is turn around and head back. When I got back to junction 8 I noted that (by 5.30pm) the police had at last shut off the road and were directing people on to the A120 and other local routes. Why did it take them nearly 12 hours to do this most basic of jobs? Who on earth thought it was still OK to get cars travelling along a stretch of motorway that was closed, for so long?

I mentioned prior learning. Remember 2003 when the snow fall kept folk in their cars overnight on the very same stretch, and the report from the highway agency recommending more ‘joined up thinking’? What was learned then about dealing with emergencies? So who is at fault here? No – it *isn’t* all those folk zipping along the hard shoulder – it’s the idiot who decided it was OK to let them on to the road in the first place, hours and hours after it was made clear the road would be closed.

So that is what I am paying my council tax for?

If you were in that mess today, what was the impact on you? Why not let everyone know here – leave a comment (keep it clean) and let’s send them to the highways agency and Essex Police. It’s about time someone took responsibility for these things, and became accountable for the very bad job they appear to be doing.

Edit – March 06 – click here for the response I received from the Highways Agency.

DVDafteredit, DVD after edit, post build editing, DVD Studio Pro, editing video_ts folder, free mac mini

I note that the good folks over at are giving away a free mac mini with every copy of the top level ‘mastering edition’ of their software.

Just so you know, DVDAfterEdit is a groundbreaking addition to any DVD author’s toolkit – if you haven’t yet got it, go now and sign up for a copy – if you are at all serious about DVD authoring, that is. yes, I know it costs a few dollars, but you’ll be glad you spent them – not least for the shiny new mac mini that is yours when you do, but also for the abilities you get to add to your authoring app. OK – it is a Mac only app, but you can edit the build folders from ANY DVD authoring application – just move your PC files onto the mac mini, fire up DVDAE and edit the VIDEO_TS folder to your heart’s content!

Be warned – DVDAfterEdit is not a simple tool, and requires learning about the DVD specifications. Fortunately there are plenty of very helpful folk on hand at the forums to help you.

I am not sure how the shipping to countries other than the US will take place, or what charges you might incur for customs, etc – but ideally the mac mini would get shipped as a gift. Either way, the software is really going to open your eyes about what is possible when you author a disc.

Head over to for more information. Check out the discussion forums there and the tutorials. Those guys are doing some serious action research!

Nikon D50, Nikon D50 vs Canon EOS 350D, Buying Nikon D50 Camera

I have been trying to decide on a half decent digital camera for a long time now, and I narrowed the choice down to a Nikon D50 or a Canon EOS 350D. The original list also included Nikon D70s, Olympus E500 and a few others. By and large my budget was for about £500, but for the right deal I’d have gone higher.

So what did I look for?

First and foremost I do not consider myself to be a ‘pro’ photographer – I am fairly experienced around cameras, but probably still have a great deal to learn. My major prior experience is with Canon video cameras such as the XL1 and GM2(both of which I love using, by the way), so I bring no preconceptions to this – except possibly that Canon cameras are great! What I wanted was a camera that would take different lenses and would take rock solid pictures time after time, with enough room for me to ‘grow’ into it.

I read a lot of reviews online and in camera magazines. In nearly every case (but not all), the Canon came out just slightly ahead of the Nikon, largely because of the greater resolution (8 Megapixels instead of 6.1). I was particularly interested when it came to image quality and, despite the greater resolution, the Canon didn’t seem to be so favourably compared… the Nikon seemed to have the edge – clear, sharp images with few artifacts, etc.

So I went to a few shops and tried them out. My very first impression was that (looking at them) the Canon appeared so much more than the Nikon – nicer style, I suppose. However, when I picked them up, the Canon felt small in my hand – the little finger of my right hand seemed to slip off the bottom of the grip. When I held the Nikon, it felt so much better – a full grip and a great texture to hold. With the Canon I’d have ended up paying another £100 for a grip to make the body a bit larger…

I don’t actually have large hands, so I was a little surprised to find the Canon so small. I guess that for a lot of folk, compact is good – but for me in this case I was less worried about that aspect.

Next up came the cost. The Canon is more expensive at every store, and online. I found a couple of places that would do the Nikon for a little over £400, but it was bare bones stuff. Ultimately I didn’t want to wait four days for a camera to arrive from a dealer I had never heard of before, but equally, I didn’t want to pay over the odds just to get it immediately. The answer came from Apple who were doing a package deal of the Nikon D50 plus a 1Gb SD card for £479 (The deal seems to have gone now – 6th April… sorry!). This is about £60 cheaper than Dixons, for example, including lens.

As luck would have it I was walking past Dixons in Chelmsford and decided to pop in to see what they could offer me as a deal. I got talking to the salesman (for once, a grown up, and one who knew a little bit about the subject i wanted to talk about!) and he told me their best price. I asked for a discount, but he was sure he couldn’t match the Apple price for the camera and memory card… until the manager walked up. I happened to say that if they would match the Apple price, I’d pay there and then… and that is exactly what happened. Dixons in Chelmsford, 10am midweek is not too busy, and I felt well cared for as a customer… plus I got the camera I had my eye on there and then at an online price. You can’t ask for much more than that, really.

So, having had the camera for a few days now, what is it like? Well, I really like it! Each time I pick it up I feel like I want to take pictures. I am more than able to find my way around the controls, which fall in to really comfortable places – my fingers fall right onto them even when I am looking through the eyepiece. The on-screen display is informative, the LCD screen large enough and the feature set is good enough for a beginner like me… in fact, probably too good at the moment. The images I have taken are very sharp and shooting in RAW has been a revelation as well – all of the image information is in there just as the CCD captured it, instead of using a JPEG which has had some compression applied. It captures in JPEG as well, if I want, and I am switching between the two formats from time to time until I settle on the one I want to use constantly.

The battery seems to last an age as well – I have had the camera ten days or so as I write this, and have taken probably 300 shots in that time. The charge indicator hasn’t dropped at all, which has surprised me. When it starts to go down, I bet it drops very fast!

The flash seems a bit weedy to me – perfectly adequate for indoor casual stuff, but it gets a bit lost outdoors on a dull day I think. It won’t be long before I buy a larger flashgun… Having said that, it isn’t a problem and as the histogram shows, the camera is capturing the right amount of information each time.

The more advanced tools are still a bit lost on me – but I am learning. Shooting in manual mode seems a bit hit and miss, but the pre-sets in the camera are well tuned as far as I can tell.

All in all I am brilliantly happy with the camera. Ultimately, the decision came down to two things – firstly, the Nikon feels so much better in my hand and if I am going out day after day I wanted a camera that wouldn’t irritate me by feeling wrong. Secondly, Dixons matched the online price Apple were offering – I felt this was a very decent offer and thoroughly recommend you go and ask for a deal like that yourself!

Finally, I want to say thanks to a small camera shop in Cambridge, just off the market square called Campkins Camera Centre (no website I can find, but here’s the phone number:01223 364223). The staff in there are so patient, knowledgeable and helpful – I asked all I could ask and they were polite right through to the end. I kind of wished I had bought from them, but ultimately it was a budget thing!

Dension Firmware update, Dension Config files, How to update Dension ICE>Link plus, Download Dension Firmware

Today I finally did what I should have done a year ago – I created a block here with just the Dension firmware files in it for people to download as they need. You will see each of the early firmwares there on the left hand side, plus a zip archive with all of them together (to save you having to get them one at a time). Also in there is the configuration files for various car makes, plus the .pdf on how to run the updates.

If anyone wants to send me the very latest Dension files I’d be pleased to add them to the list.

Dension have done a poor job in providing these files for their customers, in my opinion. As time marches on, more improvements to the firmwares will have been made, but a lot of folk seem to want to stay with a version that works for them. For me, that was version 2.05, but I removed my Dension ICE>Link a year ago in favour of the Alpine head unit and KCA420i iPod adapter – a far superior experience when playing your iPod in your car.

However, I believe the Dension product is brilliantly innovative, if somewhat poorly supported. I will continue to host these files as long as I can.