Greater Huntingdon…

The population of Cambridgeshire is growing1 and there’s plenty of demand for further growth2, but developing new places for people to live, work and play in Cambridgeshire is tricky. Cambridge itself is surrounded by green belt that few seem willing to sacrifice, despite much of it being described as dull and featureless.3 There’s lots of development around Peterborough, but it cannot be expected to handle all of the population growth. A few new towns are being developed (Cambourne and Northstowe), but these are not well suited to grow beyond a certain size.4

Notably, Cambridgeshire is curious in that it has two small-ish cities but does not yet have any large towns like Wellingborough, Corby and Kettering in neighbouring Northamptonshire. Many of the bigger towns to the east of the county (March, Wisbech and the city of Ely) are surrounded by flat, low-lying land that’s at risk of flooding by both river and, in the longer term, sea. On this basis5, I would suggest that these towns should not be top of the list for future growth. However, the bigger towns in the west of Cambridgeshire are better suited to handling significant growth and providing Cambridgeshire with some large towns: Huntingdon and St Neots.

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  1. There are a variety of good reasons for this, such as great employment opportunities in Cambridge itself and the Metropolitan Green Belt covering much of the land between Cambridgeshire and London. []
  2. The house price to wage ratio in the county is currently the highest in the country. []
  3. I recall reading a news article where a developer used words to this effect several years ago in Cambridge News. Unfortunately their website does not keep articles around for very long (for example, the Cambridge Automated Metro article has disappeared), so I can’t provide a reference. However, it’s not difficult to see their point, even if you disagree with their implication that the green belt should therefore not be kept. []
  4. For example, there are reasons there weren’t towns in those locations in the first place, though that doesn’t mean that further growth is impossible. []
  5. There are other reasons to discount these towns too, such as poor transport links. []

How to score a sequel…

It has been a long time since I originally posted about Geoff Zanelli. In that time he has worked on a number of films, taking on an increasingly prominent role. When I heard that he was taking over as lead composer for the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film (Dead Men Tell No Tales/Salazar’s Revenge), I was excited to listen to the result. Just over a month ago1 I was lucky enough to see the film2 and I was not disappointed.

An extract from some Piratey music I wrote back in 2008. © 2008 Mark Hogan.

An extract from some Piratey music I wrote back in 2008. © 2008 Mark Hogan.

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  1. I’ve been busy writing music for an event, otherwise I would have finished this post much sooner. []
  2. I’ve seen it twice now: once in an IMAX screen and once in a more normal screen. I won’t go into the visual merits of one screen over another, but the soundtrack was unexpectedly much more vibrant in the IMAX screen. []

The Cantabits tree…

As you may have noticed over the last few years, since becoming Cantabits the image at the top of this blog rapidly evolved into a monthly image of a particular tree near Cambridge. As the seasons changed, so did the image. Recently, I decided that it was time for a change – since December 2013 I’ve been uploading different images. Already, with photos of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway1, the East Coast Main Line2 and a road leading into Thetford Forest3, a transport theme seems to have emerged. However, I expect this to evolve further over time and there’s no longer a need to keep updating the image regularly.

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  1. See this here. []
  2. See this here. []
  3. See this here. []

Future Mobility…

One of the things I have been busy doing recently was a talk for the University of Cambridge about ‘Future Mobility’ at the European Student Science Parliament held there. Specifically, I was talking as an expert (due to my work building up to and resulting in Cambridge Automated Metro) about the future of sustainable transport options in cities with historic cores, like Cambridge. This was my third time giving a talk like this12, and I quite enjoyed it. Like the blog post that preceded Cambridge Automated Metro, it’s fun to have an excuse to research one’s ideas further and wrap up the results into a good summary. A talk is a particularly good format to convey this summary in, as it can be adjusted to suit the audience and feedback from the audience is normally genuine and useful.

The River Cam

The River Cam is a potential thoroughfare that didn’t feature in any ideas I suggested or heard.

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  1. The other talks I have given were not on this subject, so there was a lot of preparatory work I needed to do. []
  2. I had talked about Cambridge Automated Metro to a local newspaper and on regional TV and radio. []

Cambridge Computing at 75, revisited…

If you were interested in my previous posts about the 75th anniversary of the University of Cambridge’s Computer Lab (and celebratory publications, lectures and other events), you might be interested to know that much of this content is now available online.

The Computer Lab and University Computing Service

Currently, the Computer Lab occupies the West Cambridge Site’s William Gates Building (right) and the University Computing Service recently relocated to the Roger Needham Building (left).

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CAM: Cambridge Automated Metro…

Following on from a post back in February, I had a brief go at imagining what an underground light rail system for Cambridge would look like (after all, Cambridge needs a bit more political ambition and vision). Maybe, with at least £1billion potentially being unlocked soon for transport in the Greater Cambridge area, something like this could be implemented – I certainly hope that it at least generates debate about the sorely needed transport investment in and around the city. While I haven’t done all of the analyses that I’d like1 (I’m not getting paid for this, unsurprisingly), I have tried to connect up a number of the hotspots highlighted on the map here with key transport links, attempted to avoid historic buildings (points at which the Cam can be crossed are somewhat limited by this) and given some thought to splitting the project into lines which also represent key stages2. As noted on the proposal summary below, I have assumed a deep-level system – a cut-and-cover system would add the additional constraint of generally following roads3.

Cambridge Automated Metro Proposal

What an underground DLR-style railway for Cambridge might look like.

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  1. For example, distances between stations, potential users served by each station, station locations and depot location(s). []
  2. The Central line is obviously the key cross-city route, and both it and the North line would be easier to do sooner rather than later as they connect key points which do not yet exist and for which the plans have not been finalised: North-West Cambridge, Northstowe, West Cambridge (the site exists, but there’s still considerable space that hasn’t been used), Cambridge Science Park (the station, rather than the science park itself, so it’s useful for Cambridge Business Park too) and Cambridge Station (not all of the new development has been approved, and there is considerable space on the opposite side of the railway tracks to the station side). []
  3. If the system were cut-and-cover, I think I would stick to roughly the same overall plan but some route details and stations may be changed. []

HTC One X Review…

HTC One X front view

The HTC One X

Like the HTC Touch, the HTC Touch Diamond, the HTC HD2 and the HTC Sensation before it, the HTC One X is a generational leap beyond its predecessors. It features a “4-PLUS-1” architecture commonly marketed more simply as quad-core and a 4.7-inch 720p HD Super LCD 2 display wrapped by a single piece of polycarbonate into which the necessary small holes for sound from speakers have been drilled. But are the camera and music really as amazing and authentic as claimed? Does Tegra 3 deliver both the speed and power efficiency promised? And does everything come together in real-life situations to make the near £500 cost worth paying? Over the extended Easter weekend I put my One X through its paces, so read on to find out…

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