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.



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.


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.

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.


KDE neon User Edition Tech Preview

KDE neon User Edition Tech Preview is out now.

It’s a build of KDE neon using released software, our clever CI system watches for new releases such as Plasma 5.6.3 and packages them pronto.  If you want to use the latest released software, this is the way to do it.

It is built on a foundation of Ubuntu 16.04LTS and comes with Qt 5.5.

Please have a look at the known issues, there are still quite a few.

Then help out by filling in our testers questionnaire which asks for problems installing and running this build.

User support on Facebook group, G+ group, KDE Forums and Telegram group, links on

Lib Dem Manifesto

The Lib Dems have made a manifesto and as usual it’s quite good.

It has lots about education, which is the normal stuff of politics.  Makes a change from headlining with the NHS I suppose.  NHS comes in second with the same stuff as every manifesto about improving mental health facilities which is nice.

Some paragraphs on reforming drug policy to treat it as a health issue a la Portugal rather than criminal which isn’t in other manifestos.

A box for babies like in Finland, aww.

Stuff about building new homes for rent but nothing about cracking down on landlords who treat their properties as a bank account not a job.

Perfectly reasonable complaints against the SNP government for centralising lots of public services.

The only party to say “Stop the creation of the Scottish Government’s intrusive ID database” which I’ve never heard anyone acknowledge before outside of campaign groups. Extending Freedom of Information law.  Improved data rights so you can find out who has accessed your data.  Safeguarding use of CCTV which is a story from The Ferret that nobody else has responded to.

“Continue to support a BBC free from the control of government ministers;” which is uninteresting, nothing about giving more control to BBC Scotland.

Using sugar tax for sport use, ringfencing is pretty daft generally and there’s nothing to suggest that would an increase in community sport rather than elite sport.

A blunt penny on income tax.  I wonder why any parties think that’ll work with the public.

Lots of pictures of Willie Rennie who I don’t have much opinion of and a few of Lothian’s list head and top Quaker chap Alex Cole-Hamilton who I have photos of waving his crotch at children in nothing but swimming trunks from when I was young.  I used to joke about selling these to the highest bidding tabloid but I suspect I wouldn’t get much for lib dem material these days.

The trouble with Lib Dems is that while their manifestos look good their implementation is always somewhat disappointing.  There was the two Labour/LibDem Scottish Governments (sorry “Executive”) that promised to take away tuition fees and instead just renamed it.  Then the Tory/LibDem UK government that oversaw the largest mass surveillance programme ever without admitting it or critising it once.  Then there’s the real reason for their downfall, Jim Lowrie, former councilor for Fountainbridge, who lied so he could use me in his election leaflet.  So no vote here I think.




Vote Loony to Add K to the Welsh Language

There’s elections in Scotland and other countries of the UK next month and I’ve been writing blog posts on the various party manifestos as I work out who should run the country.

KDE has always had an adoption problem in Wales.  Elite hackers like Alan Cox and Dafydd Harries have been big supporters of Gnome and the main reason why is because Welsh doesn’t have a letter K, something KDE has always had an obscure fetish for.

Well no more, the Monster Raving Loony Party of Wales is standing on a platform to introduce the letter K into the Welsh language.  Please give your support to this worthy campaign which will allow KDE to at last make inroads into this most beautiful of countries.

Party Election Broadcast

KDE neon upgrades to 16.04LTS

KDE neon on 16.04 showing Ken’s new wallpaper

KDE neon is a package archive of KDE software built on a stable foundation.  We use Ubuntu because it’s good technology that we’re familiar with and which provides a Long Term Support foundation we can use.  When we started the only practical version to use at the start was 15.10 so our packages have been built using that.  But with 16.04LTS due out next week it’s time to move to a solid foundation where we expect to stay for the next couple of years.

If you have installed KDE neon on 15.10 (you can run Info Centre to check) you can now upgrade that foundation to 16.04LTS.

Neon offers no support for this I’m afraid, it’s not brilliantly well tested and I’m afraid there’s no GUI because that’s written in PyQt which we don’t yet have in Neon.  And obviously Ubuntu offer zero support for it because we’re an unrelated project.  16.04LTS isn’t released until next Thursday 21st so you may want to hold back until then.

Firstly check it’s all up to date:
sudo apt update
sudo apt install neon-desktop
sudo apt full-upgrade

In /etc/apt/sources.list.d/neon.list make sure you’re using the new archive address (with the /dev/)
deb wily main

run the upgrade

and follow its prompts.  You’ll need at least 1.5GB of free disk space.

Alternatively you can just do a reinstall from one of our daily images which are already on 16.04LTS.  Download KDE neon.

This still contains only KDE Frameworks and KDE Plasma.  The packages are built from Git branches and intended for KDE contributors and testers.  The packages are not compatible with many packages from Kubuntu, e.g. KDE PIM will get uninstalled.

Coming soon, user edition packages built from released software and installable images for them.  Qt 5.6 on its way too.  Then KDE Applications and other bits.


Scottish Conservative Manifesto

Quite a wordy one this.  Interesting for admitting defeat before the election and going to largest opposition party rather than government.  Very personality led with lots of photos of Ruth Davidson throughout as well as some of the other better looking candidates, I guess it worked for the SNP well enough.

But nothing very interesting in the text.  They’ll charge for university and prescriptions are the headline grabbers in return for helping colleges.

Some interesting critisism of SNP failure on an IT system for farm subsidy payments, 100million on a failed computer system is something I must have missed the headlines of reading The National.  A mention for a study to look at re-opening the Edinburgh South Suburban line (I presume it’s not very clear). Otherwise I found little of interest, just the usual stuff about funding the NHS and getting children to read which it’s hard to argue against but is hardly unique.  The candidate is someone called Miles Briggs who seems not very prominent on the internet nor very interesting based on a video interview of him last year.



UKIP Scotland 2016 Manifesto

When I said Scottish Greens were the first with a manifesto, I was ignoring UKIP who are not to be taken seriously and aren’t polling with any danger of getting near the parliament.  Still I was curious and couldn’t resist.  It’s more professional than you’d expect for a party in special measures (the Scottish UKIP people were some idiots in a pub who self destructed a while ago so that homophobic gay Vogon chap  was given the job).

  •  It starts off with a few pages about why we should vote leave in a referendum which is unrelated to this election.
  •  Lowering income tax rates but no indication of what would be dropped from spending to replace them
  • Lots of mention of reducing red tape, quangos and non-devolved remits, the usual stuff of politicians who want to talk about reducing spending without reducing services, not to be taken seriously
  • reducing business rates although it doesn’t say how much by or how much they would have to cut in spending as a result
  • irresponsible but populist (although I’m not sure popular) policies on allowing smoking rooms in pubs and raising the drink-driving limit
  • Some waffle about immigration which has nothing to do with this election
  • Some waffle about being against TTIP although only as it might apply to the NHS, it has nothing to do with this election and feels like they just pick it up as something unpopular and anti-EU.  In reality of course the UK government is a main driver of TTIP and leaving the EU isn’t going to get us better trade deals (about which the public is generally very badly informed).
  • I got bored here, it’s mostly populist stuff, much of it irrelevant and some just tory fodder like supporting shooting sports and reducing speed cameras, stopping wind farms, claiming land reform is a land grab and increasing CO2 emitions

Best ignored really unless you want to laugh. They’re polling about 3% so in no danger of getting in. The Lothians candidate is a person called Alan Melville mostly famous for spitting at people during the Independence referendum, ug.



Scottish Greens Manifesto 2016

Greens are first to publish their manifesto for the elections to the Scottish parliament next month.
Seems full of good ideas, here’s some highlights

– “Hold letting agencies to account. We will promote better regulation to tackle poor service and ensure information is available about good letting agencies and landlords.” nice but alas no mention of support for the poor neighbours of useless landlords
– “We will propose a not-for-profit service to manage major repairs including to tenements. This could be done by existing housing associations or a network” sounds interesting given my frustrations at having 10 neighbours taking zero interest in a leaking roof
– “Widen digital rights. To unlock power in Scotland access to technology must be improved
and digital media must not be vulnerable to control by vested corporate interests. We will
advocate for an independent public Technology and Society Forum to protect digital rights
and improve digital access across Scotland. The Forum would engage the public to help in
drawing up recommendations for government and industry. The internet itself offers tools
to make such a forum open, inclusive and participative.” sounds interesting although a bit vauge
– “Who owns Scotland? Green MSPs will campaign to make all landownership fully transparent and to end the ownership of land in offshore tax havens.” something the SNP backed off from for unknown reasons
– “Oppose more testing. Greens will resist plans for a return to standardised national testing
in schools. More testing contradicts the basis of Curriculum for Excellence.” This is one of the more curious policies of the SNP which I’ve never seen a good reason for
– “Opposing Fracking” hardly a surprise from the Greens, this seems necessary to help prevent/slow climate change.  In one of the leaders’ debates Nicola Sturgeon said she’d ban fracking if it was shown to be bad for the environment which seems like silly fence sitting, it releases CO2 and there is known to be bad for the environment.
– tax gets its own manifesto with a sensible proposal to replace council tax with value tax, to tax unbuilt on land and jiggle income tax bands in sensible ways.  I don’t have much of an opinion on 60% rate they propose.
– “Our key policies are: Funding for active travel. We will work to increase the proportion of the transport budget spent on active travel to 10%.” very sensible, although sadly no mention of canoeing in active travel as usual
– Community sport “Green MSPs support the expansion of Scotland’s sports clubs through support for volunteering, accessible facilities and funding to enable more women, LGBTI+ people, minority ethnic communities and disabled people to participate.” well yes but every party says that, they also say they want more funding for “support of high-performance sport” which seems to get plenty funding already to the detrement of community sport.
– “We need to curb the arms industry. Green MSPs would support measures to curtail the global arms trade by cutting Scottish Enterprise or Scottish Development International support to enterprises involved in arms sales to human rights abusers. We would encourage pension funds to divest away from these enterprises and we would push for a Just Transition Fund to help defence sector workers retrain for careers in other areas such as renewables or transportation.” excellent

Lots of good stuff.  Nothing about open source or open digital standards (where the Scottish Government is far behind the UK government), Patrick Harvie has spoken at conferences I’ve run before but alas that interest doesn’t make it into the public conciousness  Nothing about independence interestingly.  A bit light and fluffy in some areas.  They’re not standing in my constituency but I’m very tempted to vote for them in the list vote especially as I’m a fan of local lady Alison Jonston and land reform guru Andy Wightman.

KDE neon Developer Edition Images Fresh each Day

It’s Friday, so the perfect day to rollout new tech.  Nothing could go wrong. Look Harald got user edition release packages starting to build.

And I got the developer edition installable images up, make fresh each day from Git branches of KDE software, either the unstable master branch or the stable branch (Plasma/5.6).  The best way to test and work with KDE software.

Still to come: getting those release edition packages compiling, making installable images of those, updating to 16.04 and lots of tidying.

Do enjoy it.