Monthly Archives: March 2012

Student Radio Star 2012

The Hits radio in association with the Student Radio Association ran a competition ‘for the best student radio talent to appear on The Hits radio.’ The 1st prize is 4 shows and voice coaching, the runners up got one show and coaching.

I wasn’t sure if I should enter. But at the last minute last Monday I though, blow it, and quickly put together 5 mins of clips and 1 ‘best link’, and uploaded them to the site. And then I wondered if it was any good. Self doubt and wondering if I am any good, in fact I felt generally low afterwards for a few days.

However, 5 minutes ago I opened my email, only to discover an email from the competition containing the following paragraph:

Your entry has made it to the final shortlist of entries and is now with our expert panel of judges who will be select the final winner and two runners up.

I suppose you could say I am quite shocked and delighted to get to the final shortlist! Whatever happens, getting this far is an achievement. The overall winner, and the runners up, will be announced at the Student Radio Conference on the 3rd April in Bradford. I can’t be there, but I am sure I will know soon enough I am on that final list or not. Here’s hoping.

Long Lost Composition Arrives

This morning I had a knock on the door from my postman. In his hand was an envelope containing the CD of a composition I haven’t heard since I wrote it over 12 years ago.

NEWSTEAD ABBEY is a March for Brass Band that was commissioned by the City of Nottingham Transport Band for their CD recording ‘Music from the City of Legends’. I had never heard this recording, and the band has since disbanded. So I searched for hours online until I came across any leads and emailed away. Eventually I was given the email of someone who might be able to help, and sure enough— here is the result!

Workfare isn’t Working

There is growing evidence, from the governments own departments, that the various workfare schemes (there are 5 different ones) are actually harming employment growth, and leading to people being ON JSA for longer.

On the 1st of April 2011, following a review of the evidence, the Social Security Advisory Committee’s report was damning. It advised the government not to introduce Mandatory Work Activity, and observed the following:

  • “Published evidence is at best ambivalent about the chances of ‘workfare’ type activity improving outcomes for people who are out of work.”
  • “We are concerned that mandating an individual to this scheme could also have the opposite effect to the one intended.”
  • “This seems to us to signal that being mandated to mandatory work activity is regarded as a punishment…”

This graph shows that the statistics currently available demonstrate that workfare makes no difference to employment outcomes. As Ben Goldacre concluded: “Bottom line: it turns out people leave JSA at roughly the same rate, whether they’re doing workfare or not.”

Source: Boycott Workfare and other references.

The success rate of getting employed is little better than without the schemes, as the jobs offered would have been created anyway. In the mean time companies who’s profits are in the multi millions or even billions are getting hundreds of thousands of hours of subsidised labour. The government said the something for nothing culture must end, time to start with its self and big business first I feel.

Over all, I agree that people need experience, help, training etc. But the way it has been put in to action is what really annoys so many people. And now they are moving to force disabled and people with long term chronic conditions on to these schemes too. Most people are unaware of the draconian nature – the true picture – of the outworking of these policies. A few hours, people says, doing something useful, bolstering their chances, etc etc they are all laudable, however in reality rather than being helped to find work that is sustainable (over used term imho but useful in this context), they are being hounded in to working for weeks, months and in some cases on 2 year rolling cycles on these scheme, within which time the person is not being helped to find work that is capable of taking them off state supported and subsidised work schemes.

The injustice is that this is effecting not only the people on the schemes, but also the people who are in the work place right now, as it is effectively eroding things we take for granted these days, such as minimum wages, protection, other pay and conditions, because over all it easier for employers to use this subsidised unregulated labour.

Don’t take my word for it. Here are some very well researched and referenced facts about the workfare schemes: Click here to visit the Boycott Workfare website.

Interview with Tristram Hunt MP Stoke Central

Tristram HuntLast summer I interviewed Tristram Hunt, the MP for Stoke Central, on Cre8 Radio. We talked about him settling in to his role as MP for the area, what really attracted him to Stoke, and where he feels he can make a difference.

Tristram Hunt MP Interview by PJNicholls-Interviews

Cre8 Radio is currently a yearly part time RSL community radio station for Stoke-on-Trent, and North Staffordshire, with an emphasis on creativity within the local community.

CSS Frameworks I’m Looking At

Some of you reading this are probably thinking, “what on earth is CSS and why has it got a framework?” (Maybe with some exclamation marks included too…)

Well, quickly, CSS is what makes your webpages look nice. It is most things visual and gives the positioning, colour and dimension, with some nice little effects including some animation behaviours too.

A Framework allows designers and programmers to devote their time to meetingsoftware requirements rather than dealing with the more standard low-level details of providing a working system, to concentrate on cool stuff without worrying as much about the complicated stuff, and speeds things up. Oh, and take the pain out of making sure they look the same in all browsers.

Think of a framework like buying your favourite burrito ingredients all in one box, rather than getting all the items individually and preparing them separately.

Sooo, a CSS Framework…

I’m working on a couple of sites at the moment that need so redesigning, and I thought that now is a good time to use something that will help me do more in less time. (Sort of; you see this is a programmers teratology: you do something that initially takes a longer time, because you know it will make things shorter – eventually…) And at any rate, it will make it easier for someone to pick up where I left off. I hope. (And yes I chose teratology on purpose!) I list them here, with little comment as I am yet to actually try them, but some comment because I’m like that.



Blueprint “aims to cut down on your development time. It gives you a solid foundation to build your project on top of, with an easy-to-use grid, sensible typography, useful plugins, and even a stylesheet for printing.”

I’m way to visual sometimes, and as none of the sites that it demos are too inspiring for me, I’m really not sure about this one. And if their own site is the best you can do with it… Still, i’ll reserve judgement!

Adaptive 960


Made by the people who started the whole 960px craze off, this adaptive framework does as it says: adapts to the browser window size. No more separate sites for iPad, phones, small PCs or whoppers. Their site looks plain, but I can see the potential. Just change the width yourself and see it magically transform. No more ‘liquid’ layout rubbish!



This one has ‘something’ about it. Je ne sai qua… But it’s worth of a look at.



My favourite part of this site that has got me interested so far is the HTML5 form framework. They are the bane of my existence [on some days] and I really want to try this out and make it work for its [free] money.

Less Framework 4


Another ‘adaptive’ framework here, geared towards making your site degrade nicely. Nice. Again, I kind of like the look of this. Although, I’ve not looked at the code!

So I’ll let you know.

If I remember. To be honest, this was for my benefit more than yours, but if you have any experience of these frameworks, then please share! If you suggest one, then say why.