Category Archives: General

Plasma 5.8 LTS Kickerd Off for Stability and Performance

Plasma 5.8 has its Kickoff meeting yesterday and we Kickered the plans into shape.  The big news is it’ll be an LTS release with bugfix releases coming out for 18 months after the .0.  This matches Qt 5.6 which is also on an LTS schedule and we’ll still to 5.6 as the minimum Qt version for Plasma 5.8 LTS.  Full schedule on wiki.

As an LTS cycle we will focus on stability and performance for the 5.8 release.

The exception is for work on Wayland which won’t get LTS support but we do hope to be feature complete in time for the 5.8 release in October.

We went over the Plasma To Do board and tidied it up and added some new items.

And you can look forward to talks at Akademy by David and other Plasma developers, plus BoF sessions through the week.

To help out with Plasma developing say hi in #plasma on Freenode.


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KDE neon Adds KDE Games

Are you feeling too productive in your day?  Then try the latest addition to KDE Neon!  I’ve added the KDE Games applications to our repositories.  16.04.2 for User Edition, or the relevant Git branch for Developer Editions.
apt install bomber bovo granatier kapman katomic kblackbox kblocks kbounce kbreakout kdiamond kfourinline killbots kiriki kjumpingcube klickety klines kmahjongg kmines knavalbattle knetwalk kollision kpat kshisen ksquares ktuberling picmi

Gaun try them aa.

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Plasma Wayland Image Update

It’s time to check in on the Plasma Wayland image for an update. Built on Neon infrastructure, this comes with the latest from KDE Git master for crack of the day fun. Actually it’s from the end of last week because we paused updates while we add Qt 5.7 but it’s close enough.

Download image

You can now backspace in Konsole and the rest is pleasingly functional as long as it’s single screen you use.  The pesky blue coloured window header comes and goes to show that bugs still exist and are, like the UK government’s existence, unpredictable.

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KDE neon Press Coverage and Comments

KDE neon User Edition 5.6 came out a couple of weeks ago, let’s have a look at the commentry.

Phoronix stuck to their reputation by announcing it a day early but redeemed them selves with a follow up article KDE neon: The Rock & Roll Distribution. “KDE neon feels amazing. There’s simply no other way to say it.

CIO had an exclusive interview with moi, “It is a continuously updated installable image that can be used not just for exploration and testing but as the main operating system for people enthusiastic about the latest desktop software.”

For the Spanish speaker MuyLinux wrote KDE Neon lanza su primera versión para usuarios. “La primera impresión ha sido buena.” or “The first impression was good”.

On YouTube we got a review from Jeff Linux Turner. “This thing’s actually pretty good.  I like it.” While Wooden User gives an unvoiced tour with funky music.  Riba Linux has the same but with more of an indy soundtrack.

Reddit had several threads on it including a review by luxitanium which I’ll selectively quote with “Is it ready for consumers? It is definitely getting there, oh yes“.

The award winning Spanish language KDE Blog covered Probando KDE Neon User Edition 5.6. “Estamos ante un gran avance para la Comunidad KDE” or “We are facing a breakthrough for the KDE Community“.

Meanwhile on Twitter:

Want to meet the genius behind the neon light? Harald is giving a talk at the opensuse conference on Thursday. Do drop by in Nürnberg.

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Test Out Plasma 5.7 Beta with KDE Neon Developer Edition Git-Stable Branch

The gears have been churning away and Plasma 5.7 beta is out for testing.  But what’s that I hear? How can you test it?

Why with KDE Neon Developer Edition Git-Stable Branches of course, until now the little sister of Git-Unstable Branch variant, it comes into its own when you need to test betas such as this.

Grab the ISO, install it (on virtual machine or real hardware as you please) and find issues to report to the Plasma team.


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KDE neon User Edition 5.6

Polishing is important but after a while you need to put a fork in it and decide it’s done and so we’ve announced KDE neon User Edition 5.6, our first edition which we advocate for our target audience.

  • Someone who relishes frequent updates of features
  • Someone who cares what software is on their desktop and is a fan or curious about KDE software

If that’s you, give it a go.

There’s some known issues in it, many of them fixed in Plasma 5.7 which will come out next month.

And we still have lots of ideas for ways to improve it. But the beauty of a continuous integration system is those ideas will be available as soon as they’re implemented.

We don’t test or advise adding the repo to an existing Ubuntu install, although I expect it’ll work, no sympathy if it doesn’t 🙂

It’s a really exciting chapter in the evolution of KDE, a community who’s projects get continuously wider in scope, now there’s a way to get KDE’s software immediately.

Swapnil has the scoop on

With the infrastructure up and running the next step is to add KDE Applications to the build servers, I’ve started with the most important one first and kteatime is now available to install.


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The Purpose of Planets

Planet KDE and similar sites exist to show the people in the communities, what they are working on and what their interests and characters are.  It’s not an official news site like KDE Dot News and it’s not even on the domain which I find disappointing.  Posts on topics outwith KDE are encouraged as that gives insight into our friends we work with and builds community.

Some Planet sites take that a bit too far with people posting daily updates on what they had for breakfast each day which is just boring so we long since added a rule that the majority of content on the feed should be about KDE, but not by any means all of it.

A community where people are afraid to politics because they might annoy people is a scary community indeed.  One of the problems with the EU and indeed the referendum the UK is having is there is precious little discussion about it, even though it affects the future of the UK, everyone in the EU and indeed everyone in KDE.

From the policy which you can find under Add your Blog:

The majority of content in your blog should be about KDE and your work on KDE. Blog posts about personal subjects are also encouraged since Planet KDE is a chance to learn more about the developers behind KDE.


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Voted Remain to Should the United Kingdom remaing a member of the European Union or leave the European Union

At the end of the second world war Europe was broke and divided and a plan was made to help both, by pooling coal and steel markets the countries could work together to be richer and at the same time make war socially impossible.  43 years ago the UK joined the EC and 41 years ago had a referendum to decide if it should stay in.  The UK voted to stay in.

The 1975 Out campaign.  Hard left politicians working with racist Tory Enoch Powel and showing a weird ignorance of the difference between the UK and England & Wales.

Since then the EC has become the EU and expanded to a single market which has largely removed borders for people to travel and work as well as companies to trade.

Now there is another referendum on whether the UK should stay in the EU.  This time it’s the hard right of politics leading it.  The Conservative (Tory) party in England wants to deal with its internal divisions as well as the anti-EU UKIP party by having a referendum.  Nobody else sees the need and unlike the referendums for Scottish or Catalan independence there’s zero engagement from the public.  I’ve seen not one poster in windows or on cars, there has been not one rally in the streets and it’s extremely hard to find even debates or talks to attend.  There’s no campaign to join, the political parties who worked together in the anti-Scottish independence campaign all lost lots of the vote after it so now no party wants to work together and instead there’s a campaign fronted by Tories and run by Blairite Labour family member Will Straw who’s dad is responsible for kidnapping and mass surveillance.

Which I find extremely frustrating because this is important.  With Scottish Independence the issue was taking a risk of change for a promise of a government that reflects the people who vote for it.  Here the risk is destroying working with neighbouring countries with a replacement that literally nobody knows what it would be and it would be implemented by a government that doesn’t want to implement it (the UK government is split on the issue but the Prime Minister is a Remain campaigner).

The EU allows basic freedoms which I have no idea why anyone would want to give up.  I can live and work in Stirling and I’d object to any government telling me I couldn’t but I can also live and work in Guadeloupe (politically if not geographically in Europe) or in Barcelona and I see zero reason why a government should say where I can go.

So I watched some debates and went to some meetings to try to understand why anyone would want to vote leave.  Some of the main arguments:

It’s undemocratic – no it’s not and it’s extremely dishonest to claim it is.  The problem is there’s zero media coverage of EU politics but that’s not the EU’s fault.

Judges make our laws – that’s very normal and called common law, a principle founded in England.  The supreme court of the UK overrides the Scottish Government as much as the European Court of Justice.

It undermines the workers – very occasionally you hear the old left argument against the EU that it allows more competition for the workers.  But this is basic economics, more competition improves the economy overall and everyone wins.  The economically right wing politicians should be a big supporter of the EU it’s mystifying they are not.

41 years later the campaign is between these posh English politicians who won’t debate each other because they know it’ll highlight that the problem is one within their own political party. Now that’s undemocratic.

Beware the immigrants! – this is the big one.  The leave campaign is going all out with this message and it works.  The idea that lines on a map should decide where we can and can’t go is incredible but tribal instincts are strong and potential leave voters all seem to be happy to dislike people from across those lines.

I was doing a political stall at the weekend and one person really did start his questions with “I’m not a racist but… when’s it going to stop all these refugees from Pakistan” which is incredible but people really do mix up an imaginary problem with real problems (refugees from Syria for example) with the unrelated EU referendum (which wouldn’t stop any refugees that are delt with under different treaties).

But look at what they did to Greece! Another popular line with left wing voters is the conditions for a Greek bail out and with right wing voters is the problems with the Euro.  Certainly the Euro was badly managed by fudging the figures to allow in countries that didn’t meet the criteria. And certainly that’s been harsh on Greece, although nobody complained when their politicians were lying about their finances to allow them into the Euro and now 90% of people in Greece want to remain in the EU.  But the UK leaving the EU will do nothing to solve that.  (By the way it’s still my preferred option for an independent Scotland to join the Euro but only if the economic conditions are met rather than by fudging the figures.)

But you want an independent Scotland so you should want an independent UK I want an independent Scotland largely because we have the EU which means we can work with our neighbouring countries on common regulations and ignore the boring details of how you class bananas in shops.  If the EU didn’t exist I might still be all for the UK but as it is the UK is a middle layer of government that serves no particular purpose, we have a larger union now.

But the banana laws make it illegal to sell bent bananas in bunches of four! One of the weirder lies from the Leave campaigners is the myth that the EU makes some bananas illegal.  I find it insanely frustrating that the media don’t cover this as a straight lie and pretend it might be true.  There were rules for the classification of fruit which were based on an British standards before them, they never prohibited anything and the rules were scrapped 7 years ago.

The EU will destroy our NHS with TTIP! TTIP being the trade agreement between the EU and the US which might make more government services put out to tender.  Voters in the UK are weirdly attached to the health service (a good thing) forgetting the hundreds of other services the government runs, if TTIP is bad for the NHS why isn’t it bad for the Procurator Fiscal service? But the debate seems to be only about the precious NHS, which shows how limited it is possible to have a debate on the complex world of international tariffs.  TTIP is being promoted by the governments of the EU and lead by the UK government.  The democratic EU parliament is the best chance we have of scrutiny and probably scrapping it.

But but sovereignty! Along with immigration this is the main battle cry from the leave campaigns (they’re so fractured there’s multiple campaigns). Sovereignty is a weird mediaeval idea that was used to justify absolute power in a monarch over an arbitrary circle on a map.  It’s a good thing we’ve mostly got past that idea and lines on a map don’t matter and power is shared between different places for checks and balances.  English politics has a cognitive dissonance of believing England/Britain to be a great world power but not actually having much power since the Empire long since dissolved and somehow that gets blamed on the EU.  Winston Churchill is often quoted with talk of fighting not to let Germans rule us, it’s straight xenophobia I find repugnant.  And Winston Churchill was all for a United States of Europe.

But the polling is for 50% of people to vote to allow governments to once again be able to say where you can live.  And that 50% is more motivated than the remain side so it’s quite likely we will not be in the EU in two weeks time.  The polling in Scotland is for about 54% of people to vote remain and 32% for leave, that’s very different from England.  Scotland is likely to be taken out of the EU against its political will (remember there’s no shared democracy in Scotland compared to England, Scotland voted for 53 of its 56 members of parliament to be from the Scotland only SNP). This may be a good excuse for another Scottish independence referendum at which point who knows what will happen. Scotland could be the continuing member of the EU? Or maybe the public will get bored of referendums and not bother to vote.

So I’m voting remain.  Voting remain to work with common standards that allow free movement and trade without the lowest common denominator problem of say NAFTA.  Voting remain to be able to go and live wherever I want to.  Voting remain to not have England dominate Scotland politically.  Voting remain to remove arbitrary lines on a map.  Voting remain for a layer of government that investigates tax avoidance to stop it turning into tax evasion.  Voting remain for a control on bankers bonuses that destroyed the economy.  Voting remain for workers rights and paid holiday.  Voting remain on pollution controls which don’t care about lines on a map. Voting remain to work with my friends and colleagues in the rest of the continent because a person in London is no more foreign than a person in Barcelona or Brno.

I strongly advocate for British, Irish or Commonwealth citizens living in the UK to vote similarly.

Flag of Europe. Used by but created long before the EU.



Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinby feather “The Logical Case”

In my quest to find any rational reason to leave the EU I read the booklet of long time nationalist campaigner Jim Sillars called “The Logical Case“.

  • Leaving the EU means an independent Scotland can re-enter the EU as a normal entry rather than a breakaway entry and stop Spain vetoing it due to fears of breakaway Catalunya.
    Well yes, and it might also trigger a second independence referendum, but it’s seriously high risk and could cause the collapse of the economy and it’s just hypocritical to say you want out so you can stay in.
  • Scotland should join EFTA like Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein
    And pay for EU membership without having a democratic input? Now that really would be illogical.
  • The EU is run by an unelected elite
    Nonsense worthy of Nigel Farage this one.  It’s run by a commission appointed by democracies, reviewed by a democratic parliament and finalised by a council of democracies.  I think the commission should be chosen from the parliament by any government but I don’t hear anyone else proposing that so the status quo seems sensible enough.
  • Economic Immigration is bad, except when it’s good
    Jim’s booklet goes a bit UKIP here and while it says refugee migration should be helped in a humane way economic migration should be controlled.  But then it says Scotland needs more migrants so nothing should change.  It does nothing whatsoever to say why a government should allow me to migrate to Stirling but restrict me migrating to Barcelona or Guadeloupe.  I see no reason why arbitrary lines on a map should restrict what I can or cannot do.
  • Sovereignty
    Ah, that old argument.  A medaeval word to appeal to people’s tribalistic instincts and justify a monarch’s absolute rule over some arbitrary lines on a map.  No thanks, absolute power should not be in any person or body but spread about which, as one of our four layers of government, the EU helps do quite nicely.

Having looked at the nutters’ case and at the more sensible case of Jim Sillars here, I conclude there are zero reasons to leave the EU.


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Completed Foundation Safety and Rescue Training Provider

I completed my FSRT provider training and should shortly be able to provide this course.

At the start of the process I was disappointed at how few club coaches did it and how little encouragement there was in doing so (e.g. few provider training days) but now I think I’ve changed my mine.  It’s a large effort to run courses like this and to do so to the required standard takes time and money and commitment which is typically beyond what club coaches can do.  I see 1 star courses running all the time with bad practice and not following the syllabus so I can understand why there needs to be a process to keep the courses to a decent standard.

All of the items in the syllabus are simple enough but doing them with the right techniques and tweaks to follow best practice, knowing different ways to explain it and what common mistakes people make that need pointed out and then knowing alternative methods when one method fails is quite a lot to know.

On the course I ran I struggled a bit with emptying a large Pyranha Fusion, they’re so rounded you can’t get a good grip on the end to rotate it.  You typically separate kayak empty and getting a swimmer back in a kayak to keep people dry for that bit longer but best not to do this with Canadian canoes as getting back in the boat is typically done when the boat is still full of water.  I also demonstrated Canadian canoe towing by tying the painter onto the same boat which isn’t clear at all, best to demo with two boats.

It’s a lot for students to take in for one day and if they’re not already at a high two star standard they won’t manage everything, it’s ok to leave a bit of stuff out if you have to concentrate on the more relevant parts.  But also don’t be afraid to say it’s time to move on if an exercise is taking too long.  Just remember to put it on the action plan at the end.

For kayak self rescue I did eskimo rescues and missed out a simple swim to the side and empty kayak, but during the eskimo rescues people swam out anyway and did swimming and bank empty wrong so I should have included that before any eskimo rescues.

drysuit £360.00
second drysuit cos I lost my first £330.00
training £60.00
whiteboard pens printing £15.00
hotel for training £156.00
hotel for observation £46.45
second hotel for observation cos I booked on wrong day £56.00
equipment lomo (throw line, tow line) £26.99
equipment tiso (sling) £5.40
fuel to training £50.00
fuel to observation 1 £5.00
fuel to observation 2 £15.24
total £1,126.08

With the travel and equipment I bought it comes out a over £1000 to do this, eek.  I could save money by not being a fool and losing my dry suit and booking my hotel for the correct night and finding courses which were closer, but who needs to pay off a mortgage really?

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Plasma Wayland Images Go Daily

With Neon’s infrastructure moving ahead nicely I’ve been able to update my Plasma Wayland images to build on the Neon infrastructure fresh each day.  It uses packages built from KDE Frameworks and Plasma Git master branches and has a default session of KWin running as a Wayland compositor.  The foundation is Ubuntu 16.04LTS.

Download the ISO today


follow the 1 step instruction on Martin’s blog if you already have Neon Dev edition unstable installed.

As usual it doesn’t work in Virtual Box.  Rendering errors appear often, especially with a second monitor. Control-c doesn’t work on konsole.  Otherwise it’s perfect 🙂


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KDE neon User Edition Testing Survey Results

We made a tech preview release of KDE neon User Edition 10 days ago and I made up a survey to get results for how people’s experiences were.  We got 59 responses, here’s a summary:


Most people from Europe, a number from the US, the rest spread around the usual parts of the world.

How did you make the installable drive/disk?

First past the post is people who used a Virtual Machine, sensible enough for a testing release.

Next is ROSA which I discovered recently and seems to work on most OSes.  Then people who use dd and risk wiping out their hard disk with a 1 letter typo.  Surprisingly there are still people who write to a DVD to install, I’ve no idea why.

In the other category is:
rufus (Windows only)
usb-image-creator (Ubuntu only)
suse imagewriter (unmaintained)
gnome multiwriter (Linux only and why would you want to write multiple at once?)
using: sudo cp neon-useredition-20160426-1028-amd64.iso /dev/sdb + sync (err, does this even work?)

Problems which occurred during booting of the live system

no problems for most

several people reported the black bar in the isolinux/syslinux theme.  these themes are spooky voodoo.

people commented on UEFI not being supported, UEFI is even more spooky voodoo and secureboot is evil voodoo.

“The GRUB splash is practically blank. Pressing the arrow keys opened a dropdown list for language selection. Then I pressed the Esc key to get to the GRUB splash. The “Install” option isn’t any different from the “Try without installing” option.”

“Select the language Spanish, and half the options were translated.”

Problems which occurred running the live system

Lots of “none” here too.  Mostly querying the lack of applications, that’s a feature for now, we’ll add apps soon.

“klipper in menu? Im-config in menu? Panel icons wrong size/blurry”

“Upon mouse click in kicker panel consistently resulted in black screen with no recovery. Possible issue with Plasma 6 and AMD GPUs.”

“Baloo crashed immediately (notification in system tray), but did not seem to affect system function.”

Problems which occurred running the installer

‘The “Continue” button is available even after all the steps.’

“You do not ship with open-vm-tools-desktop, so my virtual desktop was smaller than the Ubiquity window”

“the installer was unable to install some packages: (although the provided list was blank), so i couldn’t install the system”

“Does not recognize UEFI partitions/System. Only legacy boot possible.”

“1. On the second page of the installer is a non replaced variable: “$(RELEASE)” 2. While installing there is no teaser how awesome kde is :-), just a blank page.”

‘Text “$(RELASE)” is displayed in german version of “Download updates while installing neon” * Checkbox “Download updates while installing neon” cannot be checked’

“Can’t continue installation in second step (prepare) due continue button is non-functional. Improvement: Install-Program should be in favorites”

There’s bugs in here that come from Ubuntu and bugs that come from not having various bits installed.  I don’t think there’s much point spending much time on this as I expect to change to Calamares soon.

Problems which occurred on the installed system:

Quite a few without problems

Lots complain about missing icons, this is a cache issue “On the kicker menu, there were no icons, but they appeared after a re-boot.” we’ve fixed this, I hope.

“Can not start system, just weird colors after install. ”

“After install of guest additions on VirtualBox desktop panel would load but then disappear.”

“Wanted to install it on dualboot with win 10. Grub does not appear so I cannot boot kde neon which I prefere as primary OS.”

“got a grub shell after install”

“Text garbage on the light blue loading screen after the GRUB menu.”

“if a display goes to sleep plasma partly crashes (same happens on kubuntu) it’s a qt problem as far as i know”

“Illegible characters till NVIDIA driver loaded ”

“Unable to use software-properties-kde : Error: could not find a distribution template for neon/xenial” (known bug this one)

“System boots to console login prompt. X can be started after login. ”

Problems which occurred when installing new software

“Plasma Discover crashed” I have this too and it’s a priority to look into

“There was a problem installing kde-l10n because of conflict with plasma-desktop-data”
Problems which occurred when updating the system to latest packages:

No problems for most people but some issues:

  • The updater applet didn’t seem to work for some reason. Had to use Discover.
  • * First boot after “apt-get update” and “upgrade”: the system boots to graphical login screen, but after login only the “x” pointer ist visible. –> Hard reset
  • * After reboot only console login is visbile, X does not start “Timeout locking .Xauthority”
  • Could not find repos
  • ANOTHER – using Discover, added Gwenview – it installed but closed Discover on completion?

Thanks a lot to everyone who tested and gave feedback.  That gives me a good idea of the priority areas to work on.  Keep on testing and reporting bugs and of course any help welcome 🙂


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SCA Freestyle at Freestyle Discipline Support Module

I went on the Freestyle Discipline Support Module sponsored by the SCA for the SCA Freestyle committee and coaches.  Freestyle is new to Scotland since until Pinkston came along there was nowhere reliable to do it.  The hope is to get some freestyle coaches in Scotland who can help out running sessions at the SCA Freestyle sessions at Pinkston and do something more structured than just open sessions.  The two day course was organised by the always smiling Bruce Jolliffe and led by the energetic Dennis Newton.  Here’s some notes for my own use and anyone else who cares.

The moves list has all the established moves which can be broken down into constituent parts by watching videos and separating movements. Dennis showed us videos of a Lunar Orbit in a hole then on flat water and on land to show how it can be progressed from practicing on basic environments.

He seemed keen on the word proprioception which means “The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself”. Related to kinaesthetic learning mentioned in UKCC syllabuses.

We went out side and he got us to sit down, then stand up.  Then repeat thinking about what our breathing is doing.  We concluded that we held breath bit when starting the lift then breath in for the lift.  It’s worth being aware of what your body is doing during its moves.

We paired up and sat with our toes touching the other’s.  Then did forward paddling movements to work out what the feet were doing (press with same foot as you paddle on) and did a stern dip to work out what our feet were doing there.

We used a heavy medicine ball and threw it over out head behind us.  We compared different styles of doing this and worked out a bit what the best style was to get a long throw, which is mostly what needs to be done to start a loop move.  It also features the same fast burst as needed in most freestyle moves.

On the land we did a drill for doing a loop.  Nudge feet forward to dip then sit upright and snap the paddles high above the eyeline.  Then tuck paddles into waist and do a forwards roll (or not if on concrete) so legs are in the air then kick legs straight so you end up lying on the ground, then sit upright.

We got changed and did flat water training for a loop.  One coach on the side picked up the stern of the paddler’s boat to make it vertical, then pushed down while the paddler sat upright put paddles infront and above their eyes.  Then the bank coach pushed down the boat and on the pop up the boater tucked paddles into waist and put head forward quickly to loop the boat over.  Straightened legs afterwards makes for a pretty complete loop.

The moves all link together in a progression which goes:

pivot turns -> blunts/blasts -> split wheel -> cart wheel -> lunar orbit -> tricky woo

loop -> space godzilla -> mcnasty -> phonics monkey

The bluts also feed into the mcnasty.

So starting off with pivot turns and loops you can progress onto the following moves.

Doing a blunt is a more useful move then a double pump for bow dip as it links into the moves in the hole.

After lunch we did some land based practice.  We used a wobble cushion under the boat to practice lean cleans.  He also showed us a spin board which can be used to practice turns.  He showed us practicing edging on a swiss ball and how some people have move flexibility which allows for better separation of upper and lower body.

Having done the eye catcher of the loop we next did a pivot turn (less of an eye catcher).  Paddle forward then power stroke on right with edge to right then sweep on the left side and switch edge.  The boat should rotate round the bow.   Practice it bilaterally of course. (This isn’t a great description so I clearly didn’t internalise it well, more practice needed.)

He showed us reverse pivots and blunts then split wheels then cartwheels all of which is way beyond me.

In a hole you need to place and time your move precisely so he used markers and said to practice doing the move in line with it.  He also started with the whole group practicing then did it individually so we could go from no pressure to some peer pressure and observation.

Then we turned on the pumps and tried out loops on the moving water.  Then we paired up and did some pair coaching on the flat and the moving.  Then we were tired so we called it a day.

On the second day we went to the Garry and had lots of fun doing stern stalls and surfs.  Using a freestyle boat does make river paddling at grade 3 a lot more fun.



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Labour Manifesto 2016

Labour released their manifesto last, curiously close to the election.  It means I’ve mostly run out of energy to read it and care.  Let’s see what pops out at me.

“Scottish Labour will work to bring together stakeholders such as Sport Scotland, the Scottish Sports Association and the Scottish Volunteer Forum to create a Sport Volunteer Fund aimed at supporting people to go on coaching courses, child protection courses and mentoring schemes.” sounds like the sort of thing which could help canoeing although it’s not clear what difference it has with existing grants for these things.

“We will end the housing crisis that has developed under the SNP” Hmm, no, I’m pretty sure it was Labour who allowed house prices to spiral out of affordability and didn’t build new homes despite a large increase in population.

“no ifs, no buts, no fracking” a lot more honest than the SNP’s only-ban-if-fossil-fuels-harm-the-environment nonsense

“Labour will scrap the unfair council tax and replace it with a fairer system based on property values” isn’t council tax already based on property values? There’s zero other information on what this tax would be.

“ensure land in Scotland is registered within the EU” something the SNP did a u-turn on disappointingly

 “When the Scotrail franchise is available for renewal we will seek a publicly owned ‘People’s Scotrail.’” other menifestos have something similar and it’s popular stuff, but the franshise lasts another 6 years and the government only lasts 4, so a bit of a lie this one.

” ban second jobs for MSPs” yay I like that, although not as much of a problem for MSPs and it is for MPs I suspect.

Always overlooked by commentators is that half of Labour’s MSP candidates also stand for the cooperative party. I have little idea of what this party does or why it exists, it sounds a bit like the Tory MSP candidates also standing for the J Sainsbury’s and Philip Green Supporters Party (which I suppose they do).  Alas the website is down, quite a fail during an election campaign, so like everyone else I remain in ignorance of the third largest party in British politics.


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SNP Manifesto 2016

I went to the SNP manifesto launch, after a decade of paying membership fees I reckoned I should get a croissant back.  The EDM music pumped out with funky visuals and when the finance minister appeared there was whooping, when the manifesto author appeared there was cheering and when Nicola appeared there was pandemonium.  It’s really not something that is supposed to happen in British politics, but then they’ve made a name for themselves by not being British.  I quite like the rock and roll way people treat the SNP these days and the more the English politicians and media continue to attack them the more people will support them.  Still we should be careful not to get carried away and ignore the problems they have in governing.  So what’s in the manifesto?

The formatting is split between glossy photos of Nicola and easily readable bullet points and a middle document with lots of text in it, a good mix of style and substance.

There is zero mention of independence, they know they can’t win a referendum yet and it’s not going to make them popular to hold another one so sensibly they don’t make much attempt to.

The headline is an extra £500 million per year for the NHS.  It does grate with me that coverage of the media doesn’t ever give figures for the budget spending but you can look up the current budget plans for health which show a spend of £12,285million in 2015/16 and £12,977million in 2016/17 so a rise of £689 million.  So the SNP’s headline policy is to do what’s been budgeted anyway.  The same is true for land reform or community access, it’s just implementing stuff which they already enacted.  Nice but hardly revolutionary.

We will also prioritise improvements to the road network that connects the East of Scotland and Scottish Borders with England – the A7 A1 and A68”  They’re good at new road projects are the SNP, less good at maintaining the roads we already have and promoting alternatives to cars such as cycling.

Through the National Entitlement Card, Scotland’s older people and disabled people will continue to be able to travel for free on local or Scottish long distance buses.” This is something ORG Scotland is concerned about, an Entitlement Card is what Tony Blair wanted to call his plan for an ID card, somehow the Scottish Government gets to introduce one without anyone noticing.
“We will encourage councils to use the landlord registration system as way of providing information to landlords on their  responsibilities and as a means of ensuring that legislation is being adhered to and action is being taken if it is not” I’ll believe this when I see it but it’s pretty weak words, nothing about striking off landlords who don’t maintain the repairing standard, still at least they pay lip service to it.
“Scotland’s police are not and will not be routinely armed.” but they can be armed a lot easier than they could in 2011, some weasel words about reviewing evolving threats here, shame.
Working with Sport Scotland we will increase the number of Community Sports Hubs to 200 by 2020″  I’m involved in one of these and it seems like a pointless exercise in trying to do something for sports clubs without actually doing anythng.
Lots of nice stuff about education, environment, housing, crime, planning and internationalism.  The manifesto is comprehensive and well thought out. You get the impression the country is in safe hands with this lot.  But the tax changes are uninteresting (not much except increasing pollution with air passenger duty) and somehow it doesn’t fill me with excitement.
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SCA Club Volunteer Conference Notes, Swimming Pool Module, Polo and Kayak Surf

I went to the SCA Club Volunteer Conference which was lots of fun as always, mixing lots of people from lots of clubs and lots of activities.  Here’s some notes for my own memory and anyone else who’s interested.

I started with a Swimming Pools and Paddlesports CPD Module run by Steve Linkstead.  It was mostly a three hour long therapy session for those of us who have faffed around running canoe sessions at a pool.

He said it was a good way to introduce people to paddling and this is what they do at Stirling.  I disagree with this entirely, swimming pool time is precious to a canoe club and if you use it to introduce beginners as normal most of those beginners won’t come back and while that’s ok to use free canal time for expensive and warm pool time seems a waste.  He also said that it meant people became warm water paddlers who didn’t want to go outside on colder water.  It’s why I use it for rolling and rescue practice only, the people who come have already committed somewhat to paddling and chances are they’ll keep coming back.

He said to use pair coaching for teaching rolling, then you can have 1 coach to 6 students.

Some discussion of newer build pools which have a soft lining that paddles can damage.

Lots of discussion on how to be friends with management and janitors to keep coming back.  Pointing out you can’t break tiles and you’ll wash all the boats is important.

Requirement to have a life guard or what qualifications coaches need varies widely. HSE has guidelines for canoeing which say

Lifeguards require specialised skills or additional knowledge to supervise canoeing and sub-aqua adequately.
So if you have a pool which is trying to say you need to use their life guards you can point out their life guards aren’t qualified, but canoeing qualifications are all good.

I did a day’s session with Poppy Croal of Poppy Croal Coaching looking at canoe polo.  It was snowing so we started off with some armchair refereeing, reading the signals then watching a game on youtube.

On the water we looked at dribbling with a ball and paddle.  To pick up on the left use a flat blade, face up, roll the ball with the rear edge to get on the top of the blade.  To pick up on the right use a flat blade, face down, roll the ball with the front edge to get onto the back of the blade.
To escape a push in you can rotate the body around a bit, lean onto the push or just rotate the boat 90 degrees.
For a good throw use a mostly straight arm, rotate your body, point through the throw and keep your hand loose.
To paddle backwards and turn so you’re paddling forwards moving in the same direction: look towards the turn, edge away from the turn then forwards stroke. Stern will dip under water.

 I spent a day (kayak) surfing at Sandend in Morayshire with Ian Sherrington helped along by Jock Young and Neil Baxter and others.
Communication on surf is hard, the only signal used is waving your paddle in the air which in the absence of anything else means to go to shore.
Factors you might want to consider before you get on are timing of waves (e.g. approx every 8 seconds) and height of waves.
Relax when paddling out through waves, if you force your way through them they’ll just force themselves back into you just as hard.  If it’s going over your head then put your hear down into the wave, your helmet will take and force and you’ll keep your eyes and face mostly dry.  When going over a wave try a mostly-sweep on one side then reach over and power forward stroke on other side.
You don’t need to start out beyond the break, start nearer to shore.
To turn onto a wave you can do a wide ark turn rather than on the spot, that will let you see all around the beach for problems.
One paddler to one wave generally.
Banff club has loads of lovely boats there, Glenmore Lodge also has boats which belong to the SCA, they only lend them out to surf coaches.
Use sweep strokes as much as possible to steer when on the wave, using stern rudders will take away from energy.  Braces can also work.  But mostly use edge of boat, surf kayaks tend to have rails on the side to catch the water to give direction.
Day one moves is to start on top of wave, move to bottom of wave, do a bottom turn to face upwards and move up to top of wave, then do a top turn to move back down.  This needs sweet and edges in the right place.  Top turn is harder although if the timing is right the two ends of the boat are out the water so it should be easy.
You can also rotate the boat sideways and just move along the wave as far as possible in one direction.
A great weekend.


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kver’s definition of anarchy

This amused me

Possible differences/anarchy may include:

  • Strange chewing noises if inserting a disc.
  • Never finding the correct orientation of USB plugs.
  • Your machine mysteriously moving several inches if you leave the room briefly.
  • Your printer demanding white ink to operate.
  • Small house pets may go missing, tufts of fur in keyboard.
  • Growling noises if holding the power button down.
  • Kate highlighting the PHP ‘die’ command in bold, regardless of setting.
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