back to article The Register taps a foot with boffins under the Lovell Telescope at Bluedot Festival

The Register braved the mud of Bluedot 2019 to chat to Human Exploration Programme Manager at the UK Space Agency, Libby Jackson, and Professor of Planetary and Space Science at the Open University, Monica Grady. Both were present in the shadow of the newly UNESCO-ed Lovell Telescope to dispense lectures on space and …

  1. hi_robb

    Brilliant festival

    Yes it was muddy, yes it rained on Friday and Saturday morning but it was a fabulous festival full of wonderful science and geekery in the shadow of quite possibly one of the most iconic telescopes of all time.

  2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Boffin

    Well worth the trip.

    There's something to be said for staying up until 4 something in the morning just listening to the moonlanding recordings being played out underneath the teliscope.

    That and going off from your tent then coming back to find all the other dishes have moved again was an odd experience (never saw them move once).

    Got to speak to lots of boffin students doing some fascinating and awesome things with science.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good festival...but...

    ...the organsiers clearly didn't know how to get vehicles out of the car parks efficiently once it was over (on both Saturday and Sunday nights).

    It's not the first time this has happened either...as I was there a few years ago and it took 1-2 hours just for the car park to empty.

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Good festival...but...

      I cheated... there was a gate at the top of field left un-manned and largely ignored. Straight up to it, no mud but it did require the wife getting out of the car and closing the gate behind us.

    2. illuminatus

      Re: Good festival...but...

      I left at around 1am form the weekend parking site on Batemill Lane.No hassles whatsoever, But the main entrance was a bit chaotic.

  4. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    Big geek envy here

    I need to get on the mailing list.

  5. Slarti Bartfast

    a quick moan (not that quick)

    Went to the last three Blue Dots and thoroughly enjoyed it all three times. Some of the science lectures are still a bit tailored to the general public, considering it's a science festival but there are 'deep-dives' as well. They can't afford the best bands to play but the stages are well curated anyway, I always find a few excellent bands that are new to me. Just being close to that telescope is an experience in itself.

    I won't be going back though, which I'm sad about. They have decided to do what they describe as 'going cashless', which involves adding an RFID chip onto everyone's wristband. If you want to buy a beer or a burger or a programme or a toilet roll, you have to load money from your cards or cash onto your wristband and then spend it from there. You can also scan your chip at various locations on site to get extra goodies in your account. No consent asked, No opt out possible - other than by not buying anything on site for the whole weekend. It is possible to not create an account with your personal details, although you are in trouble then if you lose your chip, so I suspect most did. I had a suspicion that my ticket details were tied to my chip anyway, although I could be wrong about that. It's a data grab of the worst kind with no way of withholding consent. I also wonder what happens to all the 50ps left in people's accounts - a refund is possible but who would bother for the last few pence. Massive signs everywhere advising you how to load money onto your wristband but no sign anywhere of a privacy policy and I looked. In the end I went the whole weekend not buying anything because I would rather cut off my nose to spite the surveillance capitalists. Fortunately I took supplies with me to the camp site. </rant>

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: a quick moan (not that quick)

      They also gave the impression that if you loaded up your own account you could link up others... say the wife's, to the same pot of money....

      Turns out no.. you have to top up each RFID separately. no linked pot of money. Which was embarrassing for the wife when we found this out was the case.

      It really wasn't clear at all nor did it remind you that this was the case, save for some mention that you could top up separately in the linked account area. Makes you wonder what the point was (other than to allow older kids to auto top up and drain your card dry, cynical? Moi? )

    2. illuminatus

      Re: a quick moan (not that quick)

      I went to the first Bluedot in 2016, but haven't been since. It has certainly expanded.

      The ticket and the wristband are connected - they recommended you keep your ticket to allow you to cancel lost/stolen wristbands and get replacements with less fuss. The phone app is fairly explicit about this (or at least I inferred as much from the way the information was presented) I wasn't hugely concerned, because they already have most the information on the wristband from your ticket anyway. It's not such a bad idea because it cuts down the amount of floating cash and opportunistic theft connected to that. You could claim back any remaining balance in your account from Tuesday, which was a quick job if you'd registered; you could choose to donate all/some/none of that remained to nominated charities. (the refund takes around 3-5 working days to process, apparently, when I did my request, and the money's now back in my bank account)

      My principal problem wasn't payment, which largely worked ok for me, but the rather hit and miss nature of the "mission log" feature. The contact points didn't make it clear whether the registration had worked or not (a visual, not just audio alarm would be nice), and I can see why having some of the is data is useful- -it helps them to see how busy venues are getting at particular times, and is probably useful for crowd flow and planning purposes. Given how much busier people said this year's event was than previous (some truth in that), and some had mentioned crowding, that's probably useful data to have if they can make it more reliable. It's the first year they've run this, so I'm expecting when they do it again (and they will), that they will learn some lesion form his year. It might actually be easier to use bacons at venues to record attendances and capacity as most hand their phones with me anyway.

    3. smudge Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: a quick moan (not that quick)

      They can't afford the best bands to play

      There is better than Kraftwerk????

    4. smudge Silver badge

      Re: a quick moan (not that quick)

      I understand where you're coming from. But presumably they got your personal details when you bought a ticket?

      So that's OK, but it's not OK for them to know you bought a beer or a burger or a programme or a toilet roll?

      There's privacy, which I totally support. And there's paranoia.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: a quick moan (not that quick)

      Just a comment - I heard someone from one of the big music festivals on the radio recently talking about the cashless strategy: previously they had no real idea what to charge on-site vendors for their pitches, and found out they were being ripped off big-time by said vendors. So the data grab may be as much directed at the food providers as the punters. (Not saying this is the case here, of course.)

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: a quick moan (not that quick)

      "They can't afford the best bands to play "

      No signs of Queen? Or even D'Ream?

  6. Lazlo Woodbine

    Bluedot is great

    Been a couple of times now, and the part of it that amazes me most is the scientists who very patiently explain some of the most mindbendingly difficult science to people who are either hungover, or mostly still drunk.

    I learnt some brilliant stuff, like how they spent a year freezing and then diverting and underground river that was in the way of LHC, amazing what you can do with big brains and fat wallets...

  7. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

    Dub Side of the Moon

    Thanks for that. Previously unaware. Absolutely brilliant.

  8. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "the International Space Station is expected now to be in orbit until at least 2030"

    That's if the same mould that ate Mir doesn't get it first.

    Yes, you CAN detach modules and dump them - but that's hard with the core ones and mould spores do tend to drift on air currents.

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