Edinburgh Festival Parade 2016

Edinburgh festival parade

Welcome to Edinburgh in late July 2016 where the weather is overcast and a cold wind blows.

That’s why I lost patience and decided not to photograph the parade. But then on the walk up the hill I saw this troupe waiting to start.

I knew the arrangement would stand out. But the shot came out better than I expected.

Click the image for a large version.

The River Almond Above Crammond


I took the #41 bus to the last stop. Almost there and I asked the driver about the wooded valley I had seen on the way. It was Crammond village and I stayed on the bus one stop on its return journey into Edinburgh and then walked down. Down to the village, down to the sea.

The cafe was closed – it closes at 4.30pm, but the path by the River Almond led a couple of miles up to where it met the road at Gamekeepers Lane to catch the #41 back into Edinburgh.

And on the way up the river I saw this and thought how some sights in nature just wrap themselves up in a ball of loveliness and make you stop.

To see a larger version of the photo, click on it.

Note-Taking Apps for MacOS and iOS


Always start an article with a piece of fruit.

I use Ulysses for note taking. It syncs across all devices and it has replaced everything I have used before, including nvALT, SimpleNote, Evernote – and those are just the ones I can think of.

It’s not cheap. It’s great though. But if you want to try something else – there is Bear, which I found on Product Hunt. It is still being developed, so if you want to sync to iOS you have to sign up to use the developer version.

I haven’t used it, so it may not be as good as it looks. But it got a big score on Product Hunt, so I am guessing it is good. If I did not have Ulysses, I would definitely try it. As it is, I dare not try it.

That’s because I have a habit of spreading my note taking across multiple apps. Sometimes you could find me staring intently into space trying to remember where else the note could be besides all the places I had already looked.

I cleaned everything out and put it into Ulysses. Well, that and Apple Notes – I have some things there. I am not going to stop using that, but I have a mental division of labour between what I put in which app.

Oh yes, there’s stickies. I use them for a few things.


On my iPhone I use Drafts for temporary notes – it is great. Write a draft of something – it could be an email or a blog post or just somewhere to copy and paste text or a URL or a snippet from a website into it. And from there you have multiple options to export what you have written.

Oh Dear, Here’s Another One

Better Notes for iOS is a notes app that ties notes together with #hashtags. It syncs between iOS devices with iCloud and there is a Mac web versions ‘in the works’.

The author, Chris Ladd, says:

I built Better Notes because I was frustrated with how complicated all the existing solutions were. Evernote is too complicated, the stock Notes app is too stripped down. Most notes apps are set up for “documents,” which are for other people. Notes are for yourself.

Better Notes should already be syncing your notes between devices, as long as you’re signed in to iCloud. It’s kind of a soft launch now—once there’s a Mac/Web version, that sync will be a lot more important.

You can type #hashtags into your notes and the #hashtags link all the tagged notes together. Then if you want to see all the notes tagged with a particular #hashtag, tap on any of them to see them all.

Phone numbers, email addresses, or links in your notes are live, so you can tap on those to call, email, or go to the web.

A dash and then a space makes a list—you can tap the dash later to cross things off.

You can attach #photos of things you’d like to remember. Tap the little photos to see them bigger. Swipe down on big photos to make them smaller.

It’s a pretty good app. I couldn’t resist it – resistance is futile.

A shout-out to Fraser Smith, who pointed me to ProductHunt, where people go to find things they might not otherwise find.

The EU Referendum – A Long Week In Politics

It’s been a strange few weeks in British politics. The EU referendum has driven every other kind of political question to the margins. The only question is IN or OUT of the European Union.

It is an open secret that the reason we are having a referendum at all. It is because the Prime Minister, David Comeron, feared a takeover by an alliance of the far right of his own Conservative Party and United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

He was accused at the time of putting party politics above the health of the nation. Indeed, ever since he began campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU, he has been saying what a disaster it would be if we left.

When he went to Brussels to negotiate changes. He said that by holding a referendum, the Euro partners would know that he wasn’t just posturing when he set out his demands.

And then he came back and pulled out of his hat a small or non-existent rabbit, or a big rabbit – depending on who is telling the story.

His message then was that we would risk falling off a cliff if we voted to leave.

Well if that was true when he said it, it was true before he went to Brussels and he should never have risked the decision to a vote that was out of his control.

How Real Is UKIP

So how real is the threat from UKIP? If there are only a few UKIP supporters, then they aren’t much of a threat.

After the national election, Lord Leach of Fairford, Chairman of Open Europe, wrote to the Times saying what would have happened had the German form of PR applied in the general election.

Under that system, any party getting less than five percent of the vote is not allocated seats. The reason for that is to prevent a huge number of parties with one or two votes each swamping the actual business of government.

And what would have happened is that we would have had the Conservatives with 275 seats, labour 229, UKIP 92, Lib Dems 54 and no seats for any of the other parties. That is, the SNP would not have got any seats at all.

The Scottish National Party swept the board in Scotland – but only because it has 56 constituencies in a country that is only five-million people out of a total UK population of sixty-four million.

In other words, our first-past-the-post system and the constituency boundaries that apply in elections hide the fact that UKIP has a large base of support.

Here are the numbers for the seats, the number gained and lost in the election, the actual number of the popular vote and the percentage of the vote that the number represents.

Conservatives 330 (+37, -10) 11,334,726 36.9%
Labour 232 (+23, -48) 9,347,324 30.4%
SNP 56 (+50, -0) 1,454,436 4.7%
Green 1 (+0, -0) 1,156,149 3.8%
Lib Dems 8 (+0, -48) 2,415,862 7.9%
UKIP 1 (+0, -1) 3,881,099 12.6%

Nearly four-million people voted for UKIP. But they only got one seat in Parliament.

So the threat was real and Cameron has played it well – well that is if the Remain camp wins.

But what a risk to take.

I think the vote will go with David Cameron and the Remain camp. And if it does, then he will be saved again. And for some stupid reason, people will think he was the better option and we will all love the moderate Tories. Ha!

This article was first published on NO MORE PENCILS