Thursday, December 16, 2010

WARNING: violates privacy

This morning I was trying out the site "", as I thought this may be an interesting site for collecting many things together, in the same way as many social networking sites do. I used my facebook login to connect this site to facebook. While browsing I noticed an option for premium users (costing a fee) which allows to check who is searching for myself, but I did no action on this.
Later, I noticed on Facebook that this site had sent a status message to my FB account, as if I myself had recommended this option, stating something like "this is co sool". I can definitely affirm that this was not me who posted this. In fact I find two objectionable things in this: first, that a status message is posted automatically, without me knowing it, in my name, posing as myself. Second, the fact that searches (they claim that even Google searches would be included) by anyone could actually be monitored by this site. This is, in my opinion, a clear violation of generally accepted privacy.
Therefore, I decided to delete the account on MyLife, and I want to warn you about that site.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Snow in Leeds

The snowfall started on last Friday. I had just arrived from my trip to St.Poelten in Austria, it was shortly after midnight, temperature was just below 0 Celcius. My car on the airport long term parking had been frozen over, so I had to scratch the windows free. Shortly after I had started driving, it began to snow. I came home safely, and in the morning there was a snow cover of maybe 1-2 inches in and around Leeds.

This is very unusual here in UK, to have snowfall that early in winter. In the astronomical calendar it is officially not yet winter ...! Only the Eastern part of the UK seemed to be hit by that snowfall, when looking towards the Yorkshire Dales, the mountains there appeared to be bare without any snow.

The following days and nights there was some further light snow, and since the temperature remained below freezing, the snow kept accumulating. And then today after 10:00 am there came a big snowfall, as I was at work: there were thick snow flakes, and they began to accumulate quickly. When I checked my car, there was a cover of about 4-5 inches on it!

When I returned from lunch, my colleague from the neighboring office asked me if I could give him a lift home. He only lives a 15 min driving distance from our campus, but in the morning it had taken him almost 4 hours to come to work, using buses. A main meeting that had been scheduled for the afternoon was cancelled - many people could not make it because of the snow. And Leeds Met closed down at 3pm. So I drove my colleague to his home; took about 30 minutes. The road was quite full, traffic was moving slowly. Cars started to skid as soon as there was a slight incline.

The Smart car is not really ideal for these snowy conditions: it has rear wheel drive, and its automatic clutch does not give me any control over a soft starting. But I managed anyway, just had to be very careful when accelerating - and avoid using the brake, just rolling out a slow speed instead. The northern Ring Road in Leeds was full of cars in both directions: this road has quite a few hills, and any incline, either downhill or uphill, present a major problem for driving, as cars easily start to skid. I avoided Ring Road by driving through local roads in Adel and Alwoodley.

I had promised another colleague at Leeds Met to give him a ride home too, so I drove back to Leeds Met. Since the Ring Road was full, I had to drive a longer way than I had anticipated, going all the way East to the A61, then driving south to the city centre. This direction was quite empty, but long lines of standing or slowly driving cars were heading out of the town, inching along through the slippery roads. At one point I missed a right turn and had to drive quite a detour because I did not want to drive back into that long line of waiting cars, and in one location I also started to skid and almost hit a fence at the side of the road. But I managed to avoid the collision and slowly moved further on. 35 Minutes later I was back at Leeds Met, picked up my colleague, and drove him too to his home.

In the news today on TV the main topic was the weather and the traffic chaos. Not sure if LeedsMet is open tomorrow. I have teaching of a class scheduled for 9am - and I will try to be there. As a reward for students who will show up to this lecture I will bring some German Lebkuchen and Pfeffernuesse - if I manage to keep away from eating them myself tonight.