Monday 31 December 2012

The Last Post

..of 2012. This Christmas has been the worst weather I can remeber , it's not even interesting , just the SAD inducing rain and grey skies. Having said that met up with some great people and had some good nights as well as having a quiet Christmas eating excellent food , doing catch up TV and recuperating for the stresses of everyday life.

Radio 6 has been on constantly while I've been working and I inted to see in the next year with friends as well.

It's quarter to four and lights are coming on. Elvis Costello's "Good Year For The Roses" is playing on the radio. I remember thinking how much I should hate it because it was country music , but as I dug into the album and periphery I discovered many jewels not least a couple of versions of "Stranger In The House" and the excellent "Psycho". It's great when life throws you unexpected pleasures , just brightens things a little and I am going to dig out my expanded copy of "Almost Blue" ... Happy New Year

Saturday 29 December 2012

Bill Shankly

  'The trouble with referees is that they know the rules, but they don't know the game.' 

 Just reading the papers this morning and this thought came into my head reading about the problems that Brendan Rodgers is facing at Liverpool. We have had a brilliant book and film about Brian Clough in "The Damned United" , Clough portrayed excellently my Michael Sheen. One of the reasons for this , apart from Clough's track record in football , isthe things he said , his attitude , giving a veritable goldmine for journalists and scriptwriters alike.

Alex Ferguson , Pep Guardiola , Franz Beckenbauer wer all better and eventually more successful managers , but that's alls they were. Jose Mourinho is possibly the only modern manager who is on a par with Clough as a perfect media darling.

Which goes back to my original reason for writing this , why no film about Shankly? His quotes are legend and he took Liverpool from being a nothing club to a dominant force , a legacy the club still seem to be living off.  If  you want some quotes check here.

I think it would makegreat viewing for any fan of football , and barring the afformentioned Damend United what other films have there been about football that have actually been worth watching. I can't think of any. Shankly would be a worthy addition.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

There Goes Christmas

Another Christmas has gone , and back to work tomorrow. Glad I don't work in retail or journalism or else I wouldnt have stopped.

Desipite all of us expecting to have time off at Christmas spare a thought for those who can't have a day off , especially the emergency services , utility workers , television providers and the like. On Christmas Morning we expected the power to be on and water to be running and if , god forbid , there is an accident we expect there to be someone at the end of the 999 call.

On Christmas Eve I rushed into to town and thought the shops were open . They weren't. It was staff staying late getting ready for the Boxing Day sales. How mouldy is that?

The Retail world is become more pernicious toward society leeching away our quiet time in the form of 24 hour supermarkets and Sunday Opening. People used to go to Church , now it's the local B and Q or Garden Center.  While I like to be able to get what I want when I want , I dont want to ruin someone elses life just to wait on my convenience.

Anyway hope everyone's Christmas has been brilliant and the New Year will be even better. Christmas has provided me with a few blog posts this year so I can't be too curmudgeonly about it.

A Very Merry Christmas to Starbucks and Manchester United

For all those corporation that governments allow to get away with paying little or no tax , while demonising the low paid and unemployed by cutting benefits and increasing taxes to make up the shortfall.

We cannot criticise these corporations because the decision makers would be crucified if their share holders found out they had paid taxes when the law allows them not to. Blame governments and law makers for this , doubly so when they then blame the people who don't have the financial clout  to actually fight back.

As well as Starbucks , don't forget Manchester United and City who run at a "loss" on paper and therefore don't pay any taxes . I don't hear them being pilloried like Starbucks , when it's about time they were. How can the most profitable football club in the world get away with paying no tax.

And how come Cameron and Osborne can never do anything when it's people like this taking the taxman to the cleaners rather than some immigrant or benefit cheat? Well will soundtrack it with A's Starbucks.

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Christmas Day

It's been a weird and wonderful day, totally relaxed , recovering from various health rigours and have an excellent Christmas tea with chicken , brussels sprouts and all the trimmings prepared by Fiona. The watching , interspersed with each other Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows and my favourite Shakespeare play The Tempest featuring Helen Mirren as a gender swapping Prospera and Russell Brand as a quite excellent Trinculo , you wouldnt expect Brand and Shakespeare to cross , but they do rather well.

Family phonecalls and getting rest from work has made it a most excellent Christmas day.

Looking forward to a comedy night at the Stand with the excellent John Scott and Gavin Webster , followed by Lord Rochester at The Schooner on Saturday. This could be a most excellent week ....

Friday 21 December 2012

4G No Ubiquity ... Yet

Just a short post on EE 4G. It is excellent to be able to stream TV on applications such as iPlayer , but you do need to have a constant signal. Cable provides and uninterupted flow , and did anaolgue TV and now Freeview through the airwaves.

BBCs iPlayer on the iPad allows you to downlaod episodes to watch when you are not connected , but the Android version I have on my Samsung Note 2 doesnt sem to have that option. This means that when you leave the 4G area in Newcastle on the way south your program stops , not a great customer experience caused by the face that you cant download when in the 4G signal range.

When 4G is ubiquitous streaming will be find , but even free media apps should provide the option of downloading when in a good signal area.

The World Ends Today

Thought the art of John Martin, soundtracked by Aphrodites Chid performing The Four Horsemen from their 666 album ,was an appropriate watching for this post.

Someone once said there's two things certain in life , death and taxation. There's also the obsession with the end of the world . The Mayan one is interesting in that it looks a significant date 21/12/12 asssuming you use the correct format and notation, but the Mayan's were on ourt calendar and sometime in the middle ages we lost a big chunk of time to correct the calendar.

Any way there will be billions of blog posts about this , some like this not expecting it to happen , others telling you to prepare by building a boat or hitching a lift on an alien spaceship. And if it doesnt happen there will be some kind of excuse offered about a slight miscalculation. The irony of course that if it does happen , the ones who got it right cant say "I Told You So!".

Anyway here's mty apocalypse playlist , I'm sure lots of peole have done this , hope you can enjoy it.

For some people the end of the world is always nigh , for people in Newcastle it's at the end of the Metro line ... Sunderland !!

Tuesday 18 December 2012

4G or Not 4G?

Well I eventually went for it. Basically 4G provides with faster downloads and uploads and will cause you to use a lot more data than you did under 3G. When you are in a 4G area you soon become used to fast response times which under 3G could take an age especially media rich web pages.

Youtube under 3G was always good , so I dont notice musch difference under 4G , but BBC iPlayer was virtually unusable on 3G , but on 4G becomes a very good media delivery channel.

I was going to do a series of posts of my experience with 4G  and this is the first . EE have given (well sold) me a a LTE enabled Samsung Note 2 , and it's an impressive device. I used my original Note to watch Cockneys vs Zombies , I see the new device with 4G being used to watch a lot more.

Today I am going down to London so I will see how it fares , when I get down there I am going to tether it with my iPad to see if that's a viable opyion. I have a monthly data allowance of 10 Gb , I have a feeling i this brave new data world that may not be enough.

To paraphrase Robert Shaw in Spielberg's Jaws :

    "We're gonna need a bigger data allowance"

Saturday 15 December 2012

Bully For You

This is one of those posts where a couple of randome things that you talk about with people sort of come together in an Edward De Bono lateral thinking kind of way , or like the Kevin Bacon , EE $G , interconnected digital world kind of way. Anyway basically I'm not sure where I should start so I'll just jump in and see where I land.

This year Malik Bendjelloul brought out a film Searching For Sugar Man about the Mexican artist Rodriguez  who brought a couple of albums out in the 70s and was very with in the southern hemisphere. The film has brought Rodriguez deserved worldwide recognition albeit 40 years late , but he can still tour , sing and deliver the goods and is now reaping the benefits. POssibly a similar situation was Nick Drake who unfortunately commited suicide , but his music is now finally recognised for how good it is / was.

Anyway I then read that another artist from the 70s , Graham Parker , was also enjoying a resurgence with his excellent band The Rumour with a major part as himself in the film This Is 40 produced by fan Judd Apatow. There's a Rolling Stone article here.It's not quite the same but will mean that Graham Parhker and The Rumour get deserved worldwide exposure. Always loved Graham Parker and this leads to another discussion I was having with a friend about bullying in the workplace.

It isn't nice or clever and it is horrible when you are subjected to . I have experienced it , fortunately that's fifteen / twenty years  years behind me now , but thinks were'net going well for Graham Parker when he was at Mercury Records and he responded by actually releasing the excellent "Mercury Poisoning" which while not being the most subtle of analogies certainly hit the spot , I think Mercury dispensed with Parker soon afterwards. He kept making great records and Mercury lost a talent that could have raked in a fortune for them. So this has turned out to be a bit of a ramble but it is and excuse to listen to the excellent "Mercury Poisoning":

Potatoes Eggs and HMV

The Potato and Egg Shop
It's over ten years since I moved into my current address and at the time I noticed a shop called "The Potato and Egg" shop. I always wanted to visit it just to see what was in there and about a month back when I picked up a hire car I stopped to have a look.

The shop does what it says on the front . It sells potatoes and eggs . Nothing else . Potatoes generally come in 25 Kg bags ranging in price from £9 - £15  , providing excellent quality products and more that reasonabl prices. The lady who runs it tells me she's been doing this for over thirty years.

This may seem a surreal post and hardly related to what I normally write about but we really need to support outr local shops otherise it will just be a Tesco Extra or Sainsburys Local , probably leaching money from the economy by tax avoidance.

Lots of quality Potatoes
The proprietor is an extremely helpful lady and I so prefer this sort of shop to the massive supermarkets.

And it got me thinking , that this shop is successful in providing two basic food staples and has been since the last century . I feel slightly guilty that I havent visited before now and must admit that carting a four stone bag of potatoes home on the bus was not exactly easy , but it does mean I don't have to buty potatoes for two or three months.

And Theres More
If you live in the West End of Newcastle I would recommend that you check this shop out if you use potatoes or eggs in your cooking . It's open 9 til about 4 all days bar Sunday and longer during the week.

Compare this with HMV , a music shop , who  now dedicate most of their floor space to iPod docks. The one I visited in Harrogate recently had relegated CDs to a far corner, this is a company who have lost their way. The Potato and Egg Shop hasnt !.

Friday 14 December 2012

One Bad Apple

Most people know that I always try and find the positives in situations , as to many people try and focus on the negatives because its easier to focus on one negative than 99 positive things. The reason I'm talking about this is because after having a rolling mobile 3G broadband contract with 3 for a few years I finally don't need it anymore.

I had been stung by the costs of train , BT Hotspots and Hotel WIFI so dropped into a Carphone Warehouse shop who found me a rolling 30 day contract with 3 which would give me 5Gb for £15 a month plus £5 for the dongle. The guy sheepishly , and with a laugh said he had to ask me if I wanted to take out insurance for the dongle . With a laugh I declined but thats the sort of service that makes you go back and trust a shop. This was Carphone Warehouse in Worcester.

Things went fine , and when I bought my first tablet (an Advent Vega) I needed to get a Mifi device so I could use it away from the house. The mifi device was going to be £40 but I was told on a 3 shop that I had to cancel my current contract and take out a new one to get the Mifi device, and I had to phone up to cancel. This seemed a bit convoluted but I did so and got an asian guy on the other end , who asked why I was cancelling , was the service not up to scratch etc. I explained the situation and he said he could just continiue my contract and get me a new device for nothing which sounded good. He then said I'd be on a two year contract which I didnt want , so he said he would have to charge £40 for the device , which I was expecting anyway. \he then said he would increase my data allowance to 15Gb for no extra charge , which was nice. SO a case of excellent customer service.

Also in that time the signal from 3 has been reliable and generally excellent.

Anyway now I dont need it so gave my 30 days notice and the first guy seemed fine with my reasons and passed me to retentions......

This guy would not let it go he offered me a free iPad (I hav one , dont want anoter) , laptop (I have one dont want another ) a reduction in my tariff to £6 a month (I dont need it) , , he would not listen to me at all and eventually the connection dropped. He never called back. They sent a customer satisfaction survey in which I invited the to call me about my experience. I have heard nothing.

I can thoroughly recommend 3s Mobile 3G Broadband service but am not too happy with their retentions process . If you are losig 5-0 with 5 minutes to go , the game is over

Sunday 2 December 2012

Brennan Again and Again

Brennan JB7
I was flicking through Mojo magazine and saw two adverts for CD ripping players. One is Martin Brennan's retro box, the JB7 , which is now advertising that it can replace your iPod in the house and the other a very classy looking NAIM Unitilite which rips CDs , stores them has a DAB radio, and streams MP3s and internet radio from you web connected router and costs five times as much as the Brennan.

NAIM Unitilite
The problem with the Brennan is that it's an adequate all in one unit, but be honest an iPod or iPad looks classer and can wirelessly connect to a disc server so has effectively unlimited storage space and costs less than the Brennan and can do so much more. The NAIM is an expesive but classy item that does all you want.

Brennan are now advertising Richer Sounds as their sole high street  outlet. Remember Richer Sounds made their name selling last years model very cheaply , not the place you would expect to be looking for cuttting edge technology. By the way most of my sound system is from Richer Sounds and I would reccommend them to anyone , they have an excellent business model and a service second to none.

As I say I have no gripe against Martin Brennan , but his box would have been state of the art twenty years back, but not now.

Friday 30 November 2012

Bakewell - Desert to Dessert

The Haul
I really didn't expect to be writing this post today. I was just expecting to go into Bakewell and have a mooch around before returning back to Cromford, The Vinyl District told me that the nearest record shops were in Sheffield , Derby and  Nottingham. However I knew there was a musical instrument shop there, so thought I might drop in and see what I could see.

Bakewell Music
Talked with the guy in the Bakewell Music Shop and bought a couple of CDs buy what I thought were local bands. Silent Time are a local band , but Hank Sundown and The Roaring Cascades despite having a song about Wolverhampton are, in fact, Scandinavian.

Reminds of an artist in the seventies called Hank C Burnette who loved rock and roll, but didnt know about bass guitars so with a muktitack tape recorder and a detuned normal guitar produced an album called Spinnin' Rock Boogie , the lead track was issued by Charly records and became a hit single several years later. As John Peel said he was probaly called Sven! Anyway Hanks Sundown's  facebook page is here. So 3 CDs and a good crack with the owner definitely worth a visit if you are in the vicinity.

Flamingo Lane Music Sign
Next I wandered in a local indoor market area and found Flamingo Lane Music. Similar experience to Bakewell Music and picked up a couple of reggae CDs and a live Deep Purple DVD. Very impressed and this makes Bakewell not a bad place to pick up some music. It was topped off by picking up a hefty tome about the Clash and a couple of punk and post punk volumes from a local book shop, So that's listening and reading catered for for a few weeks.

These are in addition to Bakewell's food shops , pubs , ice cream parlours. An unexpectedly fruitful day and looking forward to coming back in the future,


Although Alanis Morrisette got it completely wrong, I'm here in Cromford reading a book about reggae called Bass Culture by Lloyd Bradley and I'm unable to actually go to a record shop and browse for reggae because there are no record shops within 20 miles of here.I know this thatnks to an excellent app called The Vinyl District

Scarthin Books Amazing Shop Sign
Well you could say Scarthin Books has a selection , but it's Naxos Classical and there is a clue in the name of the shop that tells you that it specialises in books. Bakewell has a musical instrument shop that has a few CDs and there's a few charity shops which have second hand CD sections.

The thing is economics and the fact that people's habits mean that record shops have to try harder , and the good ones are still very good.And there's always online if you dont have physical access.

I used to go to record fairs but todays digital age means that I can track down most things on line , and at my age I actually have virtually everything I want musically , but still look forward to new bands and new albums.

I stll love going into RPM or Reflex in Newcastle and hearing something new that I immediately buy. That's how all record shops should be. That's Entertainment I find more relevant than HMV.  HMV don't seem to know what they are selling , giving most of their floor space over to iPod docks.

Anyway this post has wandered a bit but I'm going to read more of Bass Culture and enjoy the rest of my holiday!!

Decaf Americano with Soya Milk

Now I might be a bit po faced aout this but I heard this in the work Costa Coffee area and to me it's a bit like buying Kaliber lager. The reason you buy standard lagers is for the alcolic effect , the reason you buy coffee (especially an Americano which is BLACK and STRONG and NOT CONTAMINATED BY MILK)  is for a caffeine injection.

I understand soya milk , you may be vegan or have a dairy or lactose intolerance. There are lots of coffees you drink for the taste and there ar usually caffeine free versions of said coffees . Thry Whittards or Pumphreys and you will find them.

The same with lager, wine and beer , there are lots that actually do tasete good and are alcohol free.

The thing is if you ask for an Americano , it should be black and strong and you dont add milk.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Dreaming of an Orange Christmas?

This year once again Orange are tempting me with their excellent Christmas box promotion. If your spend £49.99 plus a £10 airtime tope up , not only do you get a decent phone you get a pair of WeSC Headphones worth £100 free. These look like the ones you get. Also here's a thought you can use them to listen to music on your phone , if , like me, you are not a fan of in ear headphones.

Last year I was tempted and resisted , and this year will probably resist again , especially as I'm taking delivery of an LTE Samsung Note II so I can use 4G when I'm in London or Newcastle.

But it really is an excellent promotion , tempting you to buy even if you dont need the product, and if you do need a new phone or headphones or both well you're well in. So as well as having a white Christmas you could have an Orange Christmas as well!

50 Years Of Cassette

This Sunday 6Music have a celebration of 50 years of the cassette tape. Check it out here

Casette gave us both convenience and the ability to mess about with songs and sounds. I was a fan of Joe Meek and various experimental artists and spent hours recording to tape , splicing and and making a lot of not very impressive noises , but I enjoyed and learned a lot about the fragility and versatility of the medium.

It's small size meant for the first time you could take your own music with you . Previously the transistor radio was the only portable option.

Cassette was Vinyl's portable , personally recordable counterpart. It's main problem is that , like vinyl, it's a fragile decaying medium. Tape heads got dirty , tapes became unravelled , tangled , twisted . You don't get that with your MP3 player or iPod. However Sony's game changer , the Walkman was a godsend . It meant you could listen to music anywhere , and annoy people anywhere and some Walkmans had radios as well , best of both worlds.

It was briefly superceded by mini disc , another Sony innovation I think , which was eventually overtaken by hard disk players and finally solid state. If 4G becomes ubiquitous we may see the solid state players replaced by stream players , but for that you need a continuous reliable signal, and that is unlikely to happen because there are always places where you are unable to get a signal.

RPM in Newcastle has a stock of vintage music centres , along with cassettes and vinyl to play on them , which is excellent if you have the room and inclination for that.

It's unlikely that I will ever own another cassette player but cassettes certainly provided me with lots of fun , inspiration and convenience in their heyday and ironically the stadard tape length of 90 minutes was almost the same time capacity as a CD.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Seven Days In Cromford

Blue Skies over Cromford Mill Pond
I chose the name of this blog because my original idea was to be about places I'd been to. It quickly deviated from that although there are still some posts about places and this is one of them.

Tor Cafe - Oldest in the Dales
The village of Cromford is quite amazing. The only financial institution is the local Post Office, but it has not been decimaed by out of town supermarkets, Two fish and chip shops , a book shop , three pubs and a social club and lots of small specialist shops.

It's built around a large mill pond which is home to trout , swans ducks and geese.

The village reminds me of Chatteris immortalised in the Half Man Half Biscuit song "For What Is Chatteris".

Amazingly although it's surrounded by hills you still get a decent phone signal.

Ducks Landing on Cromford Mill Pond
It's also home to a part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site featuring lots of inventions and buildings started by Richard Arkwright. Incidentally they have an Arkwright's stores but sadly no Arkwright and Granville!!

The bookshop is Scarthin books and is a veritable cornucopia for anyone interested in reading , in a stunning location and you could spend a whole day in there.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Why Blog?

Although I know this now I didnt when I started blogging. I knew people kept diaries and some famous people actually got them published. I started the blog as a way of recording places I'd been to then started adding music and technology related stuff , until i just started recording anything that interested me or caught my eye.

My memory is not all that great , I'm not great at memorising facts but I am good at remembering where to find those facts. Someone once was shocked that Einstein didn't know the speed of light. "Why do I need to know that? I can look it up in a book" was his replay. Now we have the internet and loads of ways of accessing what has now become the greatest reference work ever. In our smart phones and tabllets we hold in our hands our very own Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy and proposed by the sadly missed Douglas Adams.

Anyway back to my point , this blog gives me a searchable reference to things that have happened to me and caught my eye. If other people are interested then that's great , but it's still here for me. I also would love to write a book and hoped that this blog would spark off something that would result in a book. With Amazon's self publishing package anyone can publish a book now.

Yesterday Graham Norton was interviewing Maureen Lipman and she said that she could trace her life through her newspaper columns , so I'm not the only person doing this.

So basically blogging enables you to jot down things you don't want to forget, and online blogs also enable you to search back through your life both digital and real.

Here's my first post and dip into blogging on Sunday 18th February 2007 almost six years back. This is 401 posts on , here's to the next 401 posts.

Fleeing From The Lava

This is my 400th post on this blog. Surprised but not surprised , anyway here you go.

Yesterday was the first time I have driven a car with SatNav. On the advice of the guy from the excellent Enterprise Car Rental I'd upgraded to a 1.6 litre Vauxhall Astra because the weather was a little wintry to say the least. Anyway it was nice to know where I was when stuck in a totally unneccessary traffic jam near Catterick  caused by 8 miles of coned off road to cater for 50 yards of actual work.

The problem with Satnav for is that too many people take it as Bible rather that an informational guide. It is only as good as it's base data and the satellite signal it receives. It may help if you are ;ost. I found it really useful as it confirmed my bearings in the fog , rain and descending dark.

You may wonder about the title , it's from the Half Man Half Biscuit song "Evening Of Swing Has Been Cancelled" from the album CSI Ambleside, Here's the passage stolen from Chris Rands HMHB Lyric Project:

And the christening party arsehole
Who hitherto had blurred
My conception of man as nature’s final word
Was fleeing from the lava
His SatNav pleading thus:
“I’m not from round here mate, you should have got the bus”
And the christening party arsehole
Who hitherto had blurred
My conception of man as nature’s final word
Was fleeing from the lava
His SatNav pleading thus:
“I’m not from round here mate, you should have got the bus”

From: Half Man Half Biscuit: Evening Of Swing (Has Been Cancelled) - lyrics
My conception of man as nature’s final word
Was fleeing from the lava
His SatNav pleading thus:
“I’m not from round here mate, you should have got the bus”

From: Half Man Half Biscuit: Evening Of Swing (Has Been Cancelled) - lyrics

Monday 19 November 2012

Psychic Hotel Service

Staying at the London Hilton Metropole, I availed myself of their complimentary biscuits only to start coughing as a crumb hit my throat. At that moment there was an insistent knock on the door. A nice Asian guy in hotel livery with two bottles of Strathmore water. Synchronicity or what?

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Connectivity, Eclipse and a First Time For Everything

Last night I watched via the internet , facebook , and Panasonic solar technology , on the recomendation of a very good friend a solar eclipse in Queensland Australia. Apart for the images and the event being spectacular it was amazing to see how connected we can all be in this digital age . Instant video feeds from 9000 miles and 10 hours away while being exactly in the same moment. How many thousands of us shared that . An event that even ten years ago could not have happened. People watch on their TVs , computers and phones , took and shared pictures . Absolutely amazing.

It reminded of seeing Bill Bryson a couple of years ago relating a story of a guy who organised a scientific expedition to India to watch a similar event a few hundred years back. The guy spent years preparing and was thwarted by thick cloud cover. Last night was good because of the twin feeds from Port Douglas and Fitzroy Island , making sure we had at least one clear view.

This brings me on to the excellent new advert for EE featuring Kevin Bacon selling the concept of total connectivity in todays digital world . Kevin Bacon is still a top guy and is excellent in the advert, telling us about the connectivity which the Eclipse event was made for. By the way Tremors is one of my favourite all time films:

And then this morning I relented in my Starbucks boycott to pay for my first coffee with my phone using their rather efficient app. That was fine only slightly marred by me being confronted by three beardy beggars demanding 40p as a walked out of the shop . I was bigger and scarier than they were so I made my way to the train to enjoy my coffee frappacino!

Sunday 4 November 2012

Are We Just Renting ? Applespeak Strikes Again

A couple of issues with digital content here . Apple reckon that when you "buy" a download from them you are just renting it from them. Now 1 , unless they have bought the  said item from it's maker , composer , they are only licensees of the said item , taking their cut as a middleman . To illustrate a point you can either rent or download fims, so in Applespeak "buying" actually means just renting for a long time (see previous post here) . You can see the Bruce Willis situation here.

Amazon have done a similar thing , wiping a woman's Kindle for Kafkaesque unspecified account infringements (see Guardian article here) , and then mysterious restoring the said content , saying firsat that they are only renting the ebook out to you , despite saying you are actually buying the said item.

So for for all of thos infected buy Applespeak , here is what it means:

Buy  (b)
v. bought (bôt), buy·ing, buys
1. To acquire in exchange for money or its equivalent; purchase. See Regional Note at boughten.
2. To be capable of purchasing: "Certainly there are lots of things in life that money won't buy" (Ogden Nash).
3. To acquire by sacrifice, exchange, or trade: wanted to buy love with gifts.
4. To bribe: tried to buy a judge.
5. Informal To accept the truth or feasibility of: The officer didn't buy my lame excuse for speeding.
To purchase something; act as a purchaser.
1. Something bought or for sale; a purchase.
2. An act of purchasing: a drug buy.
3. Something that is underpriced; a bargain.
Phrasal Verbs:
buy into
1. To acquire a stake or interest in: bought into a risky real estate venture.
2. Informal To believe in, especially wholeheartedly or uncritically: couldn't buy into that brand of conservatism.
buy off
To bribe (an official, for example) in order to secure improper cooperation or gain exemption from a regulation or legal consequence.
buy out
To purchase the entire stock, business rights, or interests of.
buy up
To purchase all that is available of.

Right rant over , here's a song dedicated to Amazon and Apple:

Sunday 28 October 2012

Accentuate The Positive

My third post today , just to make sure that the last post wasnt the first thing that people see when they get to the blog. Yes it'll get buried in the other pile of posts but really I wanted to say something happy and positive and end (or start depending on which way you look at it) the week on a high note and feeling good.

Last week was full of lots of things happening and next week , workwise will be even fuller with people off looking after kids for half term. The thing is , as well as your own work you have to cover for other people , which makes you aware of what they do , and appreciate them knowing they will do the same for you . The other thing is that when you are so busy time just flies by at work , and that makes you appreciate being , home , being able to go out and spend time with friends.

We are at the advent of 4G communication with EE (get your 4G phone here) which can bring people closer together as well puting a wealth of knowledge within your grasp. I know this internet thing has a lot of frivolous stuff , but it is  a wonderful reference library and also a source of entertainent. You hold a phone in your havnd and it can act as a link to friends and love ones , a reference library and a source of entertainment. Star Trek or Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy here we come.

Well I  am looking forward to this week , lots of great opportunities , a big party on Saturday , a few train journeys , maybe get to see Skyfall and lots of other things.

Most people can find something good in their life and if you concentrate on those things life definitely improves. Fighting and war does no one any good and is just destructive. Build something , enjoy something , have fun , Life is good.

The Repulican Christian Way

Was worried to see today that Mitt Romney was seeing no reason why the 350,000 Christian Churches in the USA could not be mobilised to bet the black man out of the the Whitehouse and put the rich white man back in the driving seat. Some details here .

The thing about this is that Christianity is getting hijacked for private gain , to make the rich richer and anyone else an ignorant slave underclass .

Let's assume that God exists , and the Bible is reasonably believable. Now the Jesuits were the first people to point out to me that Jesus was not a long haired white man , but middle eastern and at least very sun tanned. Also he taught love for your fellow man and to help people who were worse off than you .

There's a lot of good moral lessons in The Bible that hold true whatever your religion or non religion. I bet Richard Dawkins find big chunks of it that contains common sense.

People like Romney , just like the Taliban with the Koran cherry pick bits to suit their purposes , and amazingly people then believe it's true when they sauy "The Bible says ...."  , whether it's stone a woman to death or nuke Iran.

One of Romney's kids says he want to punch Obama . Well Obama is black and has a name that sounds like Osama Bin Laden. Remeber just after the twin towers attack George made sure the Bin Laden family were flown out of the USA before the FBI could question them.

Romney doesnt believe that the rich should be taxed. Quotes like "The problem with $40 million dollars is that it becomes $20 million after tax" are not funny , when a lot of the American underclas have the problem that "$400 after tax and living expenses becomes - $200 ".

I have no problem with economies being run efficiently but the benefits should be for all , not just a select few.

Apple: License To Make You Ill!!

I think where we're under pressure we tend to want to hit out at something , though sometimes the pressure is not caused by anything you have any control over so the upport of peers and friends becomes important in helping you through. The thing is it makes to more susceptible to hit out out when things go wrong , though generally I don't do "under pressure" , I do "laid back" and that works for me . Calming down  is a great way to become really productive, but ......

Yesterday was talking to a friend who hadn't heard of Eddie Izzard when I mentioned his "Star Wars Death Star Canteen" sketch and his 43 Marathons in 51 days , and this little observation on iTunes came up , which spurred this post!!:

Anyway a few weeks back I got an Apple iPad and general it's fine . I subscribe to the Sunday Times which includes a subscriptions via the iPad Apllication , so I thought rather than going out to the shop I'd just get it on the iPad . No way - the copy is there but the download is greyed out . I can download free bits but this week it wont let me download the bit I've paid for , which I was going to do so Fiona could read it while I went to the shop to get my paper copy , along with some Lavazza or Taylor's of Harrogate Coffee , but No - I could download my PAID FOR Sunday Times copy , so had to make do with the paper copy.

The thing is , all apps are supposed to go therough rigourous testing and you have to pay Apple $100 to get your app on the Apps Store. I've given up complaining to Apple or anything to do with then because they will never admit there is a problem.

Despite the effective dropping of DRM for music Apple still include their own licensing information and this does fail at times but they wondt admit it . It happened to me and they gave me five song credits but never admitted that anything had gone  wrong.

And Eddie Izzard is right about the terms and conditions . They keep bringing out new versions of iTunes which also includes Quicktime , Bonjour (odd name for an American Product given they renamed French Fries Freedom Fries when the French would supply cannon fodder for The Iraq War) , and it's always a full 100 Mb download . Sometimes updates are days apart. Once around version 10 the download failed because the wrong version of Quicktime was bundled. But al ltheat happened that you were left with a dead version of iTunes.

Apple wouldnt admit there was a fault , they're as bad as football referees with their Teflon attitudes!

Apple products are fine , I just which they would hold their hands up now and then and admit they can't get it right every time.. Any here's the Death Star Canteen  sketch:

Sunday 21 October 2012

The Odious Idiocy That Calls Itself Creationism

Another this that reading Randy Pausch has sparkedoff in my memory is The Creationist Roadshow that I saw on BBC3 in the first week in October,  the Conspiracy Road Trip hosted by Andrew Maxwell. You may be able to catch it here.

Creatists general see obnoxious idiots who are so blinkered in their outlook it defies belief. The believe the world is six thousand years old based on adding up the asges of everyone named in the Bible . Excuse me . The Argos catalogue would be a good start for most people .

As soon as someone shoots a hole in their logic (Carbon dating , Evolution etc)  , they say "it's a test from God" . It the program the most obnoxious Creationist maintained that the Grand Canyon was caused by Noah's Flood. When the non Creationist (but Gof Fearingly religious) scientist pointed out that flood water moved in straight lines while the Grand Canyon contained Horse Shoe Curves it was dismissed as  a test from God.

All Maxwell's scientists were religious believers in God . Science and Religion is not mutually exclusive. However the Creationists said the arguments werent fair because there were no Creationist Scientists (isnt that Oxymoron?).

I was brought up and educated by Jesuit Priests who believed in science and reasoned arguments. When questioned about how God created The Earth in seven days they countered with "How Llong is a day?" On Pluto it's about 300 of our years (that is a very rough guess cos I'm too lazy to look it up). Basically saying the Bible was a guide and an analogy NOT to be taken literally.

I think part of the Creationist Agenda is to create an idiot underclass to swell the Republican vote for dagerous idiots like Mitt Romney.

I am in a bit of a bad temper because I have a sore shoulder , but there is no excuse for Creationist stupidity. How can you follow something so blindly and expect others to support you? Bill Hicks on Them Thar Creatists:

The Last Lecture and Domino Effect

This is likely to be a rambling incoherent post , mainly because it's one of those things where a seemingly singular event cant then set off so many other things. Someone mentions one thing and then that sets off another . I don't know if I'm going to finish and then think "I forgot tto include such and such" , but we shall see how this goes....

I suppose it starts with the purchase of of a couple of seemingly slim James Thurber volumes that , while they were quite enjoyable to read , I was still only on page 50 of the first volume . About a month ago, for my 55th birthday,  my very good Australian friend Carol sent me a copy of Randy Pausch's book "The Last Lecture" , based on his final lecture . Randy Pausch was a young man (mid 40's) who had been hit with a virulent Pancreatic Cancer. A horrible situation for a man with a wife and young family who he would never see grow up. One of my heroes , the comedian Bill Hicks , was taken from us in the same way. In 1986 I got hit with ITP which meant that may bllod wasnt clotting resulting in heavy internal bleeding. At the time I was scared that I' wouldn't see my daughters (3 and 5 at the time) grow up , 3 years earlier my eldest daughter had been on the terminal ward (briefly) at The Children's Hospital at Pendleton Manchester - needless to see we're both here and doing well.

Anyway back to Randy Pausch . He was the inventor of ALICE a software development environment that enables people to easily learn programming . I've never seen it but my friend Carol uses it in her class on a daily basis. He knew his time was limited so he created and filmed his last last lecture and created the book with I got through in two days after giving up on James Thurber . In it he set down thoughts , aspiriations , regrets and advice in a remarkably easy read . He does come up with some expanded bullet points on how to live life with vaguely remind me of Sun Tzu's surprisingly readable and concise "The Art Of War" . Any I recommend you get a copy of the book and check out The Last Lecture website here. The lecture is youtubed below:

Randy Pausch is and example of Richard Dawkins' idea of immortality . Pausch is still with us in so many forms and will be while humankind exists in it's current forms. Dawkins is our premier voice of reason against the right wing Christian idiocy that is Creationsism though I do feel he gets a little evangelical at times about the non existence of (G)od .

One ogf the other things I wanted to put in this is that whenever any dies or is close to it I feel I must appear incredibly callous and cold hearted because usually it doesn't  really sadden me at all , and this is the reason:

As a kid I had bad dreams, I'd be in a field crying my eyes out because my dad was dead . I don't know how it happened but would wake up in tears and my dad was always there , working in the yard or wherever . He is still with us at 798 going strong , driving his Mercedes with his Post Office Post Box maintenance contract. Anyway soon after that my uncle Trevor took an assisted passage to Australia , the other side of the world . Letters came and once a year we had a short , very expensive (£10 a minute I think) phone call , I realised I wouldn't see him again . I knew he was there , but I just had no real contact . And that is what I feel happens when someone dies , we lose contact .. for now. If evolution has taught us anything it's that we grow and save the best bits and I think our "being" continues elsewhere. Aad that's why I seem so callous in the face of death.

This is a bit like opne of those Billy Connolly stories that wanders all over the place except I'm not reallly sure where I started and where I'm coming back to.

We live in wondrous times and if people concetrated more on the good , the world would be a much better place . If you have a problem fix it or deal with it , there is usually help around. Anyway maybe I've gone on about this a bit too long but c'est la vie

Sunday 14 October 2012

Without A Net

An interesting thing happened last week. It was my daughter Juliet's Birthday. I'd spoken with her about presents when we last ate out at The Stand in Newcastle and she told me she had an Amazon Wish List!!

I knew it was her birthday on Friday , however because I had to sort out petrol , a broken cooking bowl and various other things it completely slipped my mind that it was her birthday as well !!

Still no damage done and I phoned her , and sorted a card and present , but I was thinking that I do rely on internet and phone access without really thinking about it. I just assume I can log on and send something , and when you remove yourself from that ballpark , you are back in the world of postcards , royal mail and physical shopping, which while being very relaxing , I'm not sure that I like the internet . phone calendar being my Jiminey Cricket conscience !!

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Thoughts On Writing

The reason I started writing this blog was because I hoped I would get an idea for writing a book or screenplay. My basic problem is that I am not motivated and too lazy to take the next step , well that's my opinion.

A blog is a diary and some contain some brilliant writing. It's a great way or remembering things you don't want to forget. There have been many incidents where I go back into the blog to have a chuckle about certain events , the B & Q application form being one that springs to mind.

I am currently reading "The Thurber Carnival" , a collection of  James Thurber short stories and realise that in order to write you have to be disciplined enough to research , or just know lots of things like , say , Stephen Fry.

As well as this you have to have a spark of originality or a muse to create a work that others want to immerse themselves in.

The internet and Amazon's self publishing package mean now that anyone can publish a book if they believe they have the capacity to produce a worthwhile work. The problem being it starts becoming literary karaoke where people believe that they are the next Dan Brown and have the key to untold riches.

I was shocked to hear that the average earnings for a writer was around four thousand pounds per annum. When you think how much the big earners make some writers must be on pennies.

I have incredible respect for my friend Paul Campbell who packed in his job and became a script writer. Similar to another friend Bob Armstrong who did a similar thing to become an artist.

This is another post I'm writing using the iPad's Note application. I reckon that the iPad with the addition of a keyboard is a very useful piece of kit, although when you have no internet connection you can feel a little lost.

Monday 8 October 2012

Craster 2012

Back in Craster again and the digital TV signal seems to have improved . DAB radio is OK too so I can listen to Radio 6. It's close to civilisation, but has the benefit of being on the seafront resulting in an incredibly relaxing atmosphere.

The lack of mobile phone signal means that I cant post direct to my blog , so I'm using the iPad to write this. Combined with the blu tooth keyboard the iPad is a decent doing tool!

Alnwick, Bamburgh, Lindisfarne  and Alnwick are all with easy driving distance. 

Craster is around 60% holiday residences , which at first seems a bit sad , but probably means that the village can survive because of the extra revenue that this brings in.

Robson's kipper smoking factory and restaurant and The Jolly Fisherman are still going very strong in this superbly located village.

Two days ino the holiday and I am already feeling the benefits of communication cut off. The internet  and mobile phone networks connect us up 24/7 and that is probably not a good thing because you are always looking to do just a little bit more, though ironically I am cut off but I am still blogging!!

Hopefully I will find some free wifi or a mobile wifi signal and can unload my posts.

This John Terry Situation

The really amazing thing about this is that if John Terry had called Anton Ferdinand a "F*cking Stupid C*nt" , nothing would have been said. Almost every match that is played players verbally abuse others and nothing is done , despite the fact referees can red card players for foul and abusive language.

The insertion of the word black makes it racist abuse meaning that action will be taken , giving ammunition to the anti-PC brigade of Daily Mail readers out there.

All abuse is wrong , and swearing should not be tolerated on a football field. The say swearing shows a lack of vocabulary , which wouldn't be surprising in the case of Mr Terry. 

Ashley Cole isnt much better and his withdrawn tweet against the FA shows a complete lack of respect for his betters (which is most people).

Their club Chelsea say they have a zero tolerance policy towards racist abuse towards players. However they seemed to have made an exception in Mr Terry's case.

Also what about the fact that the FA banned Terry (caucasian) for four matches, yet banned Louis Suarez (South American) of Liverpool for nine games?

These two players are excellent footballers but intellectual and moral vermin. While their behaviour is tolerated not much will change and they will keep on being abusive because their pay justifies what they do.