Morons on the moors

Well, I've just been on what must be the most depressing patrol of my time as a Ranger. Not only did the weathermen get it completely wrong and I got completely soaked, but I had the disheartening task of recording the serious and systematic vandalism of the new fence that has been put around Bleaklow as part of the attempt to regenerate the moorland. When I got to the Briefing Centre this morning, Fiona said that one of the local Gamekeepers had reported that a fence had been cut above Salter's Brook on the A628, and she asked me if I'd check it out. Sure enough, it was the new stock exclusion fence that had been chopped.

The vandalism started at Far Small Clough Head and I counted 38 places where the fence had been cut between there and Swain's Greave, a distance of about 2km - and that wasn't the end of it, I could see more cuts in the fence as hit headed east towards Barrow Stones. God knows how much further the damage goes but I'd run out of time and had to head for home. I temporarily fixed the first dozen or so sections, but whoever did it had quite clearly come prepared and has spent some considerable time performing their vandalism - the holes are every 50-100m, and they've cut the fence either side of two adjacent posts and entirely removed a section. In some places they've cut it by stiles, and in some places even next to the notices that explain that the fence is to keep stock out and not people. Needless to say, the sheep are already inside the fenced off area.

I'm at a loss to find the words to express my mixture of dismay and fury over what they've done - the damage is not just near footpaths, but right across the open moor. Whoever did this knew the area, had been before and came back with the tools necessary to destroy the fence. I'm sure the morons responsible feel that they were 'justified' in 'protecting their rights' despite the fact the land is actually privately owned and looked after. I'm also sure that if someone came and vandalised their property they'd be the ones baying for the blood of the offenders.

The fact of the matter is that because of their cretinous and downright criminal behaviour, everyone will lose:

  • This sort of behaviour undermines decades of careful liaison with the landowners to establish access to the land - if it was my fence that had been destroyed I'd be making a strong case for people to be excluded completely from my land - and yes, despite many people's belief to the contrary, landowners can still get access removed - for example for nature conservation purposes.
  • The fence is there for a reason - to protect and therefore help to repair the moors, and that's now been jeopardised.
  • The damage will have to be repaired, and I estimate that there is at least 5-10 thousand pounds of damage - not only is there the cost of the materials, and the labour to put the fence up, there's also the small matter of having to hire a helicopter at 800 pounds per hour to fly it in as the terrain is too fragile for vehicle access.
  • The landowner is paid for maintaining the fence, and for excluding his stock - if the fence is cut, DEFRA stop paying the farmer, so he get's hit by a double whammy.
  • The repairs will probably have to be paid for by DEFRA, i.e, the government, i.e. by taxes, i.e. by you, me and indeed the prats who cut the fence in the first place.

Benchmark your phone

I stumbled across a rather interesting website that provides benchmarks and test results of the Java implementations on a wide range of phones. Being an ex-benchmark engineer, this rather appealed to me ;-) The results can be found here. You are supposed to be able to download the MIDlet by browsing the WAP page at, but I had problems reading that page. The direct URL of the MIDlet is, and that worked fine for me.

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Categories : Tech

First t-shirt patrol of the year

Today was really rather warm - in the mid to upper teens (mid 60's fahrenheit for any colonials listening in), so rather than being bundled up like an Inuit I got to walk around in my t-shirt - it looks like spring is really here at last. Unfortunately the warm weather also meant is was very hazy, so I didn't get any decent photos. However it's only a few weeks since we had some significant snowfall - the pictures below were taken on Kinder Low when we were airlifting at the beginning of the month.

Helicopter on Kinder

I'm particularly fond of the one below - apart from correcting the blue colour cast and contrast problems you get with photos of snow, it's untouched.

Kinder Low in the snow

Categories : PDNPA Rangers, Drumming

Improving the look of fonts under Swing

As I said in my last post, I've spent quite a bit of time over the last few days fiddling with Java, and one of the things that bugged me is that the fonts look pretty crappy because they aren't antialiased. The only way to do this in JVM 1.4 and before is to subclass every widget and/or install your own PLAF (Pluggable Look And Feel) - there are a couple of projects which have done this, for example wraplf and smoothmetal. However, as of JRE 1.5, there's a way to do this globally for your application:

    System.setProperty("swing.aatext", "true");

Unfortunately this doesn't work inside an applet as writing to a system property is forbidden and you'll get a security exception. You can achieve the same effect by adding -Dswing.aatext=true to the command line. If you want to set this for all applets you load, open up the Java Plugin Manager, go to the Java tab and click on the View button under Java Applet Runtime Settings. In the table, click on the Java Runtime Parameters field for the 1.5 JRE and enter -Dswing.aatext=true as the value, then save and exit. Voila, all your applets will use antialiased fonts.

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Categories : Java, Tech