The UK’s National Archives have added over 200 of their photos to their Flickr photostream. They can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalarchives/. It is an interesting mix including Maps and Plans, Historical Documents, 19th and 20th century photographs, and 23 photographs taken by Felice Beato on the expedition for the relief of Khartoum in Sudan. There have already been comments about spelling mistakes and inconsistencies in some of the photograph descriptions but National Archives have explained that they have reproduced exactly the photographers’ own notes if available. The tags added to the photos by National archives do have the modern spellings.
The photos have “no known copyright restrictions”:
“The National Archives is unaware of any current copyright restrictions on these images either because they are Crown Copyright and the copyright is waived or the term of copyright has expired. All of the images may be subject to other third party rights, such as rights of privacy. You are responsible for obtaining other such necessary permissions for reuse”
The images may be downloaded and reused without permission in any format for purposes of research, private study or education (non-commercial use) only. You are also asked to credit ‘The National Archives’ and include the catalogue reference of the item to allow others to access the original image or document.
Google Street View now covers most of the UK. When I last looked at Caversham and Reading on March 9th they were not covered. Today they are! Looking at various pieces of evidence – for-sale signs, new buildings or lack of them, and the progress of exterior refurbishment – the photos in my part of Caversham were taken about 15 months ago.
Google Maps has yet to tell UK users to get on their bike, though. We currently have directions for travelling between two locations on foot and by car but in the United States there are now cycling directions for 150 cities. Those of us in the UK do not have “public transit” directions on Google Maps either but we do have http://www.transportdirect.info/, which I notice now has a cycle planner for selected areas. This is the first version of the planner produced in conjunction with Cycling England, Ordnance Survey and relevant local authorities. Transport Direct is looking for feedback from users so if you regularly cycle, and your area is covered, give it a go at http://www.transportdirect.info/Web2/JourneyPlanning/FindCycleInput.aspx
The snow has started to clear in Caversham and the lower half of the road on Donkin Hill looks as though it has been repeatedly bombed. Major cracks, huge potholes and an alarming amount of subsidence are now in evidence. It is a scene that is going to be repeated over the whole of the UK in the next few days as the snow and ice retreat to reveal the damage caused by the freezing weather. I shall be out with my camera and reporting the state of the road to the council via FixMyStreet (see my earlier posting on this excellent service). I am sure our local Council will be inundated with similar reports from around Reading.
Potholes.co.uk is run by Warranty Direct who specialise in used car warranty, new car warranty and extended warranty. It is a “Campaign website to highlight poor state of British roads and help motorists seek compensation from Councils”. Type in the first part of a postcode or the name of a town to view a Google map showing the location of any potholes in the area. Click on a marker to see a more detailed description of the problem.
To report a pothole you need to register and sign in. First enter a title and description and then the street name and town. A Google map should appear with a marker and you can then drag the marker to the exact location of the pothole(s). You can also upload a photo. Once you have submitted your report you are taken to a page where you are encouraged to report the problem to the local council.
I am not sure how useful this site really is for motorists as it is dependent on people reporting potholes to the web site, so it is not comprehensive. It is also not clear who marks the potholes as filled when the repairs are made. Feedback on both of those points would be welcomed.
Update: February 4th, 2010. This directory is no longer available
UK mobile phone numbers are now available in an online directory at http://www.118800.co.uk/, which claims to have 15m numbers in its database. 118 800 obtains the numbers from market research companies who contact individuals and ask if they would be prepared to allow their numbers to be used for commercial purposes, from online businesses who ask customers to opt in their numbers during the course of online transactions, and from brokers who buy and sell lists of phone numbers. To search for a number you just type the name and location of the person into the 118800 website. You may be asked to supply further address details to confirm the identity of the person you wish to contact. 118800 then texts the person you wish to contact asking them if they are prepared to accept the call. The service costs £1.
If you wish to be ex-directory, go to http://www.118800.co.uk/ then click on ‘Ex Directory’ at top right hand side of the page. You will be asked for your mobile number and to type in letters from a CAPTCHA (those horrible distorted letters and numbers that take at least three attempts before you get it right). You should then receive a text message from 118 800 with a number that you have to type into the 118 800 web site to complete your opt-out. The FAQ says that it can take up to 4 weeks to make you ex-directory (why so long?)
Thanks to Bert Washington, membership secretary of CLSIG (Commercial Legal and Scientific Information Group), for circulating a reminder about the directory.
As people who have attended my search workshops will know, I am a great fan of customised search engines and in particular Google Custom Search Engines. LGSearch is a Google CSE set up by Dave Briggs, an independent social media consultant who works mainly with the public and third sectors, to search just UK public web sites.
The sites are broken down into the following categories:
Police & Fire
Once you have run your search, you can select which types of sites you want to appear by selecting the appropriate category link.
Further background information is on Dave Briggs’s blog at LGSearch update.
I spotted this article in the hard copy of the Daily Mail while I was on the plane back from Glasgow last night. It particularly caught my attention because we had been discussing International filing and disclosure requirements at the workshop I had been running in Glasgow. According to the article a new bill – the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act 77 – is passing through the US Congress with presidential backing.
The article singles out four regions in particular: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Cayman Islands, Delaware and the City of London.
Switzerland is in the list because of its “banking secrecy laws”, and Liechtenstein is one of three tax havens listed as uncooperative by the OECD. The other two countries are Monaco and Andorra.
The Cayman Islands should come as no surprise, but I am still amazed at how many analysts and researchers keep asking me why they can’t find any financials or detailed information on companies that are registered there. Just take a look at Cayman Islands Companies: Formation & Registration:
“The Registrar of Companies can only release the name and type of company, its date of registration, the address of the registered office and the company’s status. Disclosing any other information is prohibited unless requested by a law enforcement agency.”
The US state of Delaware is another well known “haven”. The Delaware Division of Corporations refers to its “modern and flexible corporate laws” and “a business-friendly State Government”. Roughly translated it means that you will have a hard job finding accurate, up to date or sometimes any information on companies registered there. Many of the companies I have looked up on their register don’t give any proper contact details or give fictitious names. But perhaps Homer and Marge Simpson really are directors of multiple businesses in a wide variety of sectors?
The naming and shaming of the City of London came as a surprise, though. The UK is the last place that most of its citizens would regard as a tax haven but the article is referring to the so called “non-dom” laws. A non-dom, or non-domiciled person, is someone who is resident in the UK but claims it is not their home, their ‘domicile’ being in another country. As a non-dom they pay no UK tax on their overseas earnings unless they bring the proceeds into the UK. UK Chancellor Alistair Darling’s announcement last year on proposed changes to the tax laws for non-doms caused an uproar and there have been many subseuqent “clarifications” and amendments to the proposals. I won’t bore you with the details here but if you are interested go to Chipwrapper and search on non-dom Alistair Darling and select Past Year as the time slice.
For the majority of us, tax havens will remain a dream. Substantial donations to the author of this blog would be gratefully received – used notes in a suitcase preferred 🙂
If you are a serious news junkie like myself, you may find Martin Belam’s recent series of articles on the UK’s regional press of interest. The articles cover topics such as the provision of RSS (not all newspapers offer them!), links to social bookmarking sites, and the site search options offered by the newspapers. This is all very useful information for anyone who needs to assess the quality and functionality of local press sites in terms of current content, archives and alerting services.
The Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) (http://www.dft.gov.uk/rfa/) has been set up by the UK Government to implement the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) (http://www.dft.gov.uk/rfa/aboutthertfo.cfm), which came into force on 1st April 2008. The RTFO obliges fossil fuel suppliers to ensure that by 2010 biofuels account for 5% by volume of the fuel supplied on UK forecourts. The purpose of the RTFO is to “reduce the UK’s contribution to climate change and its reliance on fossil fuels”. The RFA publishes updates on the progress of the RTFO. These include monthly reports on progress on achieving compliance with sustainability criteria and quarterly reports to the Department for Transport and annual reports to parliament. All reports are available on the web site.
With serious questions being raised about the impact of biofuels on food prices, farming and the environment in general, it will be interesting to see how long this all carries on. The RFA’s first monthly report has just been published and covers the period 15th April – 14th May 2008. The press release contains some good summary statistics for those of us who need to get hold of such data in a hurry. There are ‘associated files’ (PDF and an Excel spreadsheet) that contain more detailed information.
The UK Coal Authority (http://www.coal.gov.uk) aims “to facilitate the proper exploitation of the Nation’s coal resources, whilst providing information and addressing liabilities for which the Authority is responsible, in a professional, efficient and open manner”.
If you own or are purchasing a property in a coal mining area there is a search service that will check whether or not the property might be affected by past or existing mining activity. The gazetteer (under Information Services) gives an indication of places in Great Britain that may, or may not, require a mining search to be performed. If you are thinking of moving within the UK it would be as well to check this site as well as the Environment Agency’s ‘In Your Backyard‘ (http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/maps/), which tells you if the area is at risk of flood and whether there’s a landfill site near your house.
The Coal Authority site also has reports on mining activity in the UK and statistics on production. There are links to sites that cover coal mining related topics and information on technologies. The latter includes coal gasification, cleaner coal technologies and environmental issues. These technology ‘fact sheets’ are a good starting point if you need to get up to speed on the industry jargon and how it all works.
News and comments on search tools and electronic resources for research