Thursday, 12 September 2013

Lib Dem conference directory

The Lib Dem conference directory is published as a pdf. It has fringe listings, and handy maps. Except that, incomprehensibly, the maps are badly compressed bitmaps. The maps are also available as high quality images, and it's trivial (with Apple's OSX "print preview" app, for example) to replace the crap maps with the good ones. It took me about 10 minutes, which is why I don't understand why the published directory has the crap maps.

I've also found the official conference app unusable. It takes about a minute to start, which is far too long when you're looking for the location of a fringe event, for example. These things need to start instantly. The "killer" feature of the app is, or would be, the ability to create a personal agenda. In theory, you can do this: adding debates, fringe events, and training events. In practice, nothing that I "add" to my agenda actually gets added.

It would work quite nicely, even with the delay, if "adding" an event would just create an entry in my calendar app. Actually, that would be better than creating another diary in the official app. But that doesn't appear to have been considered.

So, that's why I've created a Google calendar with the main conference agenda, and a couple of the more popular fringe events. I've also made myself a cut down version of the directory: with legible maps, and fewer adverts (many of which are also illegible because they're over-compressed bitmaps instead of vector graphics).

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Autumn Conference Calendar

I've published the Lib Dems' Autumn Conference Calendar on my Google Calendar. You can subscribe to it at

It's just the two consultation sessions, and the main conference agenda at the moment. I'll add some of the bigger fringe attractions later.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

My Heart Op

We don't know the reason for the stroke that I had in 2011.

It could be high blood pressure: my blood pressure is high, but not very high. Blood pressure is responsible for a third of strokes, and may be caused by excess dietary salt. I've been trying to reduce my salt intake, and I'm also taking Ramipril daily. My blood pressure has come down somewhat, but it's hard to get consistently accurate measurements.

It could be a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) - a hole in the heart that's supposed to close at birth. In about 25% of people, it doesn't close properly. However, 50% of people who have an early stroke have a PFO. It's possible that a clot forms in the hole, then escapes and lodges in the brain, for example.
PFO closure is a simple, day operation. Imagine pushing a tiny cocktail umbrella through the hole, then opening it up: but it's a more sophisticated bit of kit than that! It can be inserted through a large vein in the leg. It's a very safe operation, and there's some evidence that it really can reduce recurrence of Transient Ischemic Attacks (mini strokes, whose effects last only a very short time).

There are three studies that show a reduction in adverse events in the five years after the operation. None have shown a statistically significant effect, but adverse events turn out to be very rare, so larger studies may be needed. It may be that aggregating the statistics from the three studies would demonstrate a statistically significant result. Anyway, having declined the operation after the first study was published, I've now decided to go ahead with it.

I was very pleased to be given a choice of dates for the operation. I turned down May 1 (the day before the County Council Elections) and May 8th, the annual meeting of Lewes District Council. Instead I've elected to have the operation on May 15th. They only do it on Wednesdays, it seems.

I still have the altered sensation in my left side: often pain, but generally hypersensitivity to cold, heat, pressure, and so on. I think it's probably going to be permanent.

Edited to add: Yesterday (16 April), I got a phone call to say that the 15th May date isn't actually available. I had a choice of 1 May, or to go back on the waiting list. I chose to go for 1 May. Also, my wife and I watched a Holby City staff member (Tara Lo) die on the operating table, which is discouraging, even if entirely irrelevant! The letter that I got from the hospital says that my consultant has performed this procedure 260 times, and not had serious adverse affects. Tara's operation, in contrast, was (a) a high risk procedure, (b) on a brain tumour, and (c) fictional.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Conference Calendar

The agenda for the Liberal Democrats' spring conference has just been published. You can read the announcement on Lib Dem Voice. I maintain a Google Calendar called LDCONF in which I put our conference events, for my own purposes. But, I also make that calendar publicly available.

You can see it below, or at or,
you can the events to your Outlook, Apple iCal, or smartphone calendar by downloading the file at or,
you can subscribe to the calendar (and get future updates in your calendar) at
I've taken a different approach to fringe, which is to add each time slot as a single calendar item, and put details of the events into the calendar item notes. If I find the time, I might split these out, but I'm not sure that won't just make a complete mess of calendar displays!