How to fix Firefox’s new mousewheel scrolling

The lastest version of Firefox / Nightly seems to have changed what happens when you nudge your central mouse wheel, intending to move down a Web page. It seems to be set up for iPads now, when users are used to ‘jumping’ down the screen in pseudo-frames. But it’s very annoying to jump like that on a desktop, when what you’re used to using is a gentle nudge. Here’s how to fix the problem…

1. Type about:config in the browser’s top Web address bar and press Enter.

2. A big list of settings appears. Type wheel in the search box that sits above these settings. The list is filtered to show only the wheel settings.

3. Look for the setting Double-click the mousewheel.default.delta_multiplier_y. Double-click on it. Changing its setting from 100 to 30 worked for me.

The Westport Independent

The Westport Independent is a interesting forthcoming videogame about, well, not so much outright censorship so much as more subtle information warfare in the Russia Today (RT) style…

“As editor, your job is to control the flow of news, affecting readers’ opinions of the autocratic Loyalist government and the rebel forces opposing it. As articles come in — with hundreds included in the game, their appearance randomised for each play through — you’ll select the headlines most likely to pacify the population. You can’t lie, not exactly, but there’s a lot you can do by not telling the whole truth, or only presenting one side of the story.”

Could be an interesting classroom ‘serious game’, for media studies ethics classes. Due on Steam later in 2015…

Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future

The new report from the government’s Digital Skills Committee, Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future. A quick skim-read suggests it’s very much focussed on skills and jobs. A couple of items that caught my eye…

“cybersecurity not being taught in schools, resulting in a “lost generation” of youngsters who ended up teaching themselves and were left unaware of the career opportunities.” … “Government cybersecurity initiatives — such as Get Safe Online and Cyber Streetwise — the evidence suggested that these were not in the public consciousness.” … “… cybersecurity is not taught as part of the curriculum; Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations told us one reason for this was: “… fast moving areas like cyber security are unlikely to have text books, as they would be out of date before they are published” … “If text books cannot be up-to-date, there is a need for education to move to online courses [MOOCs] for cybersecurity.”

“the higher education offer around computer science provision was not [found to be] consistent between institutions [especially in terms of graduate destination data]”

And a useful quantification of UK skill levels, although with no demographic stratification other than worker/non-worker…

skilllevels

Google AirView

Wow, I just thought: Google AirView, alongside Google StreetView. A fleet of GoogleDrones making 360 degree airborne HD camera pictures at various levels above the ground. Meaning you won’t just be able to walk a place in StreetView, but also hover above it for elevated views from anywhere. It would fill the gap between the satellite photography, which can only go down so far and can’t go sideways to the horizon, and the Google StreetView.

Return of the Flying Circus

The Circus of Drones

Dronecircus

New NESTA report on creative industries in the regions

NESTA has a new and waffle-free short report on the creative industries outside London, and is proposing that £100m of the Regional Growth Fund cash should target growing creative clusters in the regions. The first few pages have a useful up-to-date summary of all the UK creative industries statistics on size and employment. Even given the inherent vagaries of using SIC/SOC statistics to measure the creative industries, it’s good to read that…

“the creative economy grew more rapidly in all areas outside London, particularly … the West Midlands (8.2 per cent p.a.[per year])”

There’s even a useful regional breakdown into component parts…

westmids

westmids1

Unfortunately that still means we’re not on the map when it comes to regional clusters…

map

Vrooom!

“Region’s tech firms show ‘remarkable’ optimism”

“A Barclays survey reveals that West Midlands tech firms are show “remarkable” optimism as they expect to grow six times faster than GDP in 2015, according to a new survey.”

Tech Nation report

Tech Nation is a new report which claims to have surveyed the 21 UK digital production clusters outside London. Of such companies formed since 2008, 74 percent were found to be located outside London. Of companies formed since 2010…

clustersuk

Birmingham is deemed by the report to be an “early stage” cluster, but has apparently seen a 51% increase in new digital companies incorporated between 2010 and 2013. One suspects that the various city snapshots would change markedly if freelancers, partnerships and microbusiness were visible enough in the data to be included. Their presence is measured by a sort-of proxy, asking larger companies about their access to talent.

On the other hand the selection of data points by DueDil appears to have been sloppy. A quick look around the report’s map for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire county shows their Companies House companies data to be hopelessly astray in giving an accurate on-the-ground picture of a place. DueDil have included the likes of erm… housing associations and sports retail shops? Don’t base your investment decisions or house moves on this report, without further investigation.

hopeless

hopeless2

Google Earth Pro is now free

Google Lat Long has announced that Google Earth Pro is now free. It once cost $400 a year.

More events for 2015

Added to the West Mids events 2015

14th-15th March 2015:
The Beauty of Letters : text, type and communication in the eighteenth century. A joint annual conference of the Centre for West Midlands History and the Baskerville Society. University of Birmingham.

12th June 2015:
Controlling Crypto-currencies. One day conference at Birmingham Law School.

Edge question for 2015 – in Kindle .mobi format

The world’s leading thinkers on the Edge question for 2015: “What do you think about machines that think?”. Since the single page is the length of two novels (130,000 words), and Instapaper et al will choke on it, I’ve taken the liberty of making a simple free Kindle .mobi conversion which looks nice and has proper —’s and spacing. This is for those who want to read the page on their Kindle ereader device. It’s unabridged.

EDGE_Question_2015 in Kindle .mobi format
(670kb zip)

Wired UK redesign

Wired UK redesign. Finally, a magazine that realises that a widescreen desktop PC is not an iPad. Who knew?

wireduk

I’m still reading their article list in stripped-down RSS, though. And then pushing interesting articles through Instapaper to my old-school Kindle ereader. Sorry, designers. Very pretty and all that, and it even scrolls sideways. But until I get a large tablet — that can handle a double-page magazine spread while still being readable — it’s still really just the words that I want.

Details on the UK’s postgraduate loans

The fine details have emerged on the UK’s forthcoming postgraduate loans funding for Masters degrees: 120 universities are to be funded with a share of a £50m loans fund, with a small core of five (including Birmingham University and Manchester University) assured of getting more than £1m each. Both full and part-time course will be eligible for loans. No restrictions are being placed on the choice of subject or course.

The loans are meant to be focussed on those… “who have paid undergraduate fees since 2012-13, and who are from groups underrepresented at taught postgraduate level.” Universities who have had the most success in recruiting those types of undergraduates will be rewarded, with funding allocations based on the existing… “number of students at each institution from areas with the lowest participation in higher education, and the number receiving Disabled Students’ Allowances”. It was also announced elsewhere that the loans will be restricted to those aged under 30, which seems a little harsh on a disabled 32 year old who’s just finished a degree.

The new loan scheme will start for the 2016-17 academic year. I imagine (my guess) that funding may turn out to be oversubscribed at the student application level, as there’s only a limited pot, high demand and universities must match-fund half of the £10,000 loan. So the most eager prospective students will probably want to secure their loan-funded places early, applying in Jan? 2016 for an Autumn 2016 start.

Loan paypack terms will be the same as the undergraduate loan — which means that most artists, writers, actors etc will never have to pay it back, because we tend to have annual earnings below the payback threshold. Hopefully individual universities won’t discriminate against these sorts of courses at the application level, in terms of which applicant gets a loan, and the loan applications forms will be blind to course choice.

Typographic Hub

The Typographic Hub at BIAD, has a 2015 diary online for their Birmingham talks. Students and staff only, apparently, but I daresay if you know your boldface from your dingbat then they might let an interested local designer sit in at the back.

2013 UK creative industries statistics

The new government report Creative Industries Economic Estimates: January 2015 is now available for download. It’s good news, albeit conveniently released at just the right moment to try to mute reaction to David Cameron’s stonkingly stupid promise to ‘outlaw all software that uses encryption’, which is what his statement amounts to. I was pretty sure that Labour authoritarian types would be dim enough to try this if they won the election, but I didn’t expect it now and from the Conservatives. I’d heard that Cameron had banned his Party from mooting half-baked policy ideas, in the run-up to the election. But obviously he makes an exception for himself. Anyway, we’ll see what happens when the next government has to announce the outlawing of Facebook (messaging + encryption par excellence).

The new creative industries figures are actually for 2013. Apparently it’s the first time they’ve been available, what with the statisticians in Whitehall being a year behind in their tallying. They’re also important because it’s apparently the first time the figures have been tallied under the new creativity criteria, which supposedly prevents the likes of your local electronics superstore from counting as a ‘creative industries’ employer. 2013 saw the UK creative industries grow by just under ten percent, sustain 1.7 million jobs, and pump out 8.8 percent of all exports of services exports (£17.3bn). And hey, we lead Europe on e-commerce and ecommerce exports. Which relies on, erm… strong encryption, with no kludged-in backdoors or possibility of clandestine access by corrupt officials.

Impact Hub scholarships

Birmingham’s Impact Hub has now gone beyond £60,000 in fundraising, and so will start a scholarship fund. The application period for the first scholarship will open March 2015. There’s also an associated ongoing photography project.

“We drive, drive, drive, on the Aston Expressway…”

Where better than industrial Birmingham for a conference on Kraftwerk’s early days and influence? Industrielle Volksmusik for the Twenty-First Century: Kraftwerk and the Birth of Electronic Music in Germany. 21st-22nd January 2015, Aston University in Birmingham.

ralfflor

A rough guide

“Birmingham? Why send tourists there?” warbles Tim Moore in the Telegraph. His key points seem to be…

* Brum is being over-hyped and mis-sold by the city’s PR professionals. The City Centre has shopping and eateries plus a little unchallenging culture, but so do plenty of other places.

* Concrete 1970s horror still lies in wait just outside the inner ring road, and sometimes within.

* Brummies are too clever by half (“the city still employs more than 100,000 people in specialised engineering and manufacturing”), and they have the cheek to do it with a Brummie accent.

We’ve heard such idle carping from Bored London Journalists before, of course, and I won’t bore readers with yet another counterblast to it. He obviously hardly knows the city, or else he would have mounted a far more devastating attack. I’d just note that such limp attacks are perhaps not ameliorated by those who feel obliged to regurgitate inane PR piffle from the other direction. Such as the dismal boilerplate corrective that the Telegraph felt obliged to append to Moore’s article.

Three days to Impact

The Impact Hub, featured on D’log back at the start of December, is now tantalisingly close to its Kickstarter goal.

close

New Year Mummers’ Owd Tup

From Addy, S. O., “Guising and Mumming in Derbyshire”, Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, XXIX, Jan 1907, pp.31-42. The New Year tradition was to have a sort of combination Wassail / Mummers’ procession, but without the Mummers’ story element, headed by either a Owd Tup (Old Ram) figure or a Owd Oss (Old Horse).

old_tub_mummers_derbyshire