Tuesday 26 February 2013


When I logged on to this account Google asked me again for my phone number. They already have my alternative email, they just want to know even more about me.

When I log into Facebook on my mobile they want to get all my contacts. I want control of my contacts. Facebook already have 400 of my contacts as friends on Facebook so why do they want more. Are they going to spam those that already aren't on there?

I feel secure in having things under my control. Its like storing stuff on the free Cloud space that Amazon and iTunes give you. You may have paid for the items but Amazon and iTunes have n qualms about wiping accounts on the flimsiest of pretexts.

Reminds me of the Sony debacle where their CD security software screwed up thousands of computers resulting in a multi million dollar settlement.

Im doing this using the Google Blogger software on my iPad so haven't got the hang of jumping around getting links. I may ad the later

How To Win At Bettin ...

..be a bookie.

My biggest winning bets have always been on the most random selection criteria. The nearest thing to a certain winner is a five horse race where the favourite has odds of about 1/20 , the second favourite 20/1 and the other horses about 100/1.

A five pound each way bet on the second favourite would pay thirty pounds a 200% return if it cam second and be hundred and thirty five pounds if your horse won.

Thing is I've seen that twice in 15 years of betting.

I'm just amazed and the number of guaranteed systems that people are selling. If they worked they wouldn't need to market them.

So if you feel the need to bet just go with instinct , its as good a method as any. You can actually work out high probabilities but expect to put in 15 hour days. Chip Taylor writer of "Wild Thing" and "Angel of the Morning" among others took time out from the music industry to become a professional gambler, and was successful, but returned to music as it was more profitable and less stressful.

So when you are next passing by William Hills or Ladbrokes , dont go in unless you can afford to lose the money

Sunday 24 February 2013

Finding The Good

The easiest thing in the world is to find something to complain about . I once knew someone who , if the couldn't fault something or someone , would dismiss it or them as "too perfect".

So we've had the unexpected snow , but it does make you feel festive and seeing the landscape covered in white snow often make it look mmore beautiful.

Today Swansea lifted the League Cup by beating Bradford City . It was a mismatch but Bradford have disposed of Arsenal , Wigan and Aston Villa on the way to Wembley and Swansea showed Bradford what they could be one day , because not too long ago Swansea nearly lost their league status. Last year they showed a profit of nearly £15 million, and now for the first time in their 111 year history they have their name on one of the three main English Football Trophies, a shining example to other clubs.

Newcastle United disposed of Metalist Kharkiv to progress to the next round of UEFA's Europa Cup, and followed it up by defeating Southampton , and moving above Sunderland in the league. Happy days on Tyneside.

My team , Preston North End , finally ditched their old manager , appointed Simon Grayson and have had two good results against top of the table sides, so that makes me happy.

And while in all these situation success often comes at the cost of someone elses failure , the thing to remember is to enjoy your success. Although Bradford lost today , they were the first bottom tier club to reach the final since 1962 , and their bank balance will have been majorly improved by their Cup run , and they gave their fans a day at Wembley.

So essentially there have been lots of good things happening this weekend that have brought a smile to my face. As Kool & The Gang state ... "Celebrate Good Times"

Snow Still Here

Front Window
Across The Road
 Just thought I'd let you know that we have lots of snow. My next door neighbour made a snowman. It is melting but so much came down the garden still has a white carpet.

The snow is still everywhere , covering the gardens , footpaths and lots of the local hillsides and parks.

Trees at the back

Was quite funny, in my local William Hill's two old numpties going apoplectic because the weather had caused the cancellation of Newcastle Races . I'm not sure whether they were blaming the Government , the Council or the betting shop manager

It was quite an amusing interlude. These are the same guys who try and push you out of the way to put a 25p each way bet on the greyhounds!!

Anyway it almost feels like Christmas ..... but it's nearly March!!

4:49 Sunday Morning

..and I've woken up , or rather been woken by an annoying tickly , chesty cough, In an Alan Bennett-esque piece of situationanist observation I'm sure I made myself a LemSip , well Boots own brand equivalent last night , but can't finsd any trace of it, and I'm still wondering whether I imagined it!!

Anyway it's one of those times where it's too early to get up and too late to go back to sleep. There's a thick carpet of snow outside and though it started to melt , it's now freezing , so not driving weather and the roads are very, very quite.

Was listening to an album of protest songs last nightfron the 40's and 50's from the likes of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger and many others about the oppression of the average man by a combination of banking and government. It's funny how banks and governments should be there to serve us , but in fact just exploit us. I'm one of the lucky ones in that I am keeping head above water , but lots of people arent so lucky, with fuel and food prices rocketing and wages either staying static or jobs just going and then people expected to take minimum wage jobs.

In yesterdays paper there wasreported a push by the Tory right to curb union power by not allowing strike action unless 50% of the members turn out. Be interesting to apply similar criteria to bills but through Parliament . Nothing gets passed unless 50% of MPs turned up. Can you imagine a company functioning with it's members have such a blatant disregard for their work and responsibilities?

Also yesterday the UK's triple AAA credit rating was downgraded to AA by the banks , who , don't forget put the whole world in this mess AND were bailed out by the governments of the world. George Osborne said that was justification for continuing austerity measures (ie tagetting people on benefits and the pensions of those on minimum wage). Yesterday the Inland Revenue was trumpetting the success of it's anti tax avoidance measures , apparently a Liverpool hairdresser and a Northumbrian Pipe Fitter were the top ones recovering about £20K. Letters of congratulation were probably sent to Amazon , Starbucks and Google. I am not getting at those companies for legally avoiding tax , I'm accusing our governments (and this goes back a long way) for facilitating this: Check this article on tax avoidance (which remember is legal and encouraged and facilitated by goverments all over the world)  and here are some telling figures:
  • 1% - Income tax rate reportedly available to members of the legal K2 tax scheme used by Jimmy Carr.  Source: The Independent
  • 98 – Number of FTSE 100 companies operating out of tax havens. Source: ActionAid
  • £25bn – Estimated annual cost of tax avoidance, according to 2008 research. £13billion of this is lost to individuals and £12billion to the 700 largest corporations. Source: Tax Research UK and the TUC
  • 10% - Average rate of tax paid by top earners, according to a confidential HMRC study seen by George Osborne. Source: The Telegraph
Plus a few telling figures from  1227 QI Facts:
  • In 2005, the 54 billionaires in Britain paide less that £15 million in income tax between them. £9 million of that was paid by James Dyson. To put it in perspective it's like me and you paying less than 10p a month on our earnings.
  • In 2011 only 9 of the 62 owners of apartments in One Hyde Park, London (the world's most expensive block of flats) paid any council tax.
  • Over 600,000 companies are registered in the British Virgin Islands (populaton < 29K)
  • In 2009 Exxon posted $19 billion profits and received a $156 million federal tax rebate from the US Government

So you can see goverments and big business are still in cahoots , taking profits for themselves and leaving us to pick up the tab. Anyway it's time to go back to bed now...

Saturday 23 February 2013

World Book Night 2013 - I'm In

I've just receved my email that I'm been chosen as a giver for World Book Night 2013. One shocking fact is that a third of the homes in this country don't possess a book. So this is trying to address that little problem , we will see.

The book I've chosen is "A Little History Of The World" by EH Gombrich , which is a history of the world for children. A few of the reviews are here:

  • 'Conversational in style, as of a grandparent talking with a child, the story of humanity from prehistory is told.' --Peter Andrews, School Librarian, vol. 54 no. 2, Summer 2006
  • '...a perfect present for a child with an enquiring mind. I wish it had been available when I was young.' --Literary Review, September 2005
  • 'Had I a dozen grandchildren...I'd order two dozen copies, one for the children, the other for their parents.' 
A full list of the books being given away is here.

This is the first book I'm giving that I have not read , but I will do before I give the book away. Unusually , World Book Night is on a Tuesday this year , April 23rd , 3 days after National Record Shop Day which I will also be taking part in.

One thing is that it costs ten pouns to distribute each box of books so if you can donate something via Justgiving it would be most appreciated.

Donate with JustGiving

Friday 22 February 2013

Sort of Missing Instagram and Twitter

A Photo
I was wondering whether I would get withdrawal symptoms from ditching Istagram and Twitter , and I definitely have. Although the problem is it's like any addiction. Sometimes I want something extra to do on my phone.

Then I think 99% of the posts and pictures will go unnoticed and unread no matter how good the picture is or how witty the riposte on Twitter is. And then the desire goes away.

If I want to post something I can do a blog post like this one or just post a status on Facebook, it just takes a little more effort.

The problem with Instagram and Twitter is that often it's more about getting followers and the way to get followers is to follow people and hope they reciprocate. If you have a big following base then people will hopefully take notice of what you say or take a picture of , although often it's just about what they've had do eat.

I've been very guilty of that, and people aren't interested in what I've had to eat , although people may be interested if I recommend a good restaurant or pub. Anyway I am happy with what I'm doing and when I see things I want to photograph I can take them for my own pleasure , share them on Facebook or Picassa for people to check out.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Riddle Me This ...

A short follow on to last night's post. When I went on to Blinkbox to check the price of Soylent Green it was £2.49 to rent and £7,49 to download. This is a film that is forty years old and , yes , it's a decent film.

The problem with films is that unless they are very special you only tend to watch them once or twice. Music and books which also have their e-quivalents are similarly expensive when new but prices tend to drop after time. Novels are like film , but music does tend to be played and replayed, but film not so.

In my collection I have 400 DVDs , many of which havent come out of the box and some of which I have only watched from recording to my hard disc from Film4 or some other digital channel. So why are digital copies of old films so expensive given their nature. The DVD equivalant will be around £2.99 and for that you get a hard copy that , with the appropriate software , you can make a digital copy of.

iTunes has a similar pricing structure and on demand service will charge £3 to £4 for a rental , but they are usually newer films. 4OD gives you free on demand stuff (admittedly padded with unskippable adverts , but I don't mind that, they are giving me something I want) and the BBC iPlayer and other TV companies give similar service (although the BBC iPlayer has no adverts , it comes from the license fee).

If films were a couple of quid to download a copy I would happily buy them if I fancied them but I won't pay 7-10 pounds for something that I will only watch once. Youtube has it's own channel with a lot of free movies here such as the excellent Kung Fu Hustle . Also Blinkbox have advert supported free stuff and special offers , but the question remains , why ore downloadable DIVX movies so expensive? Bring the price down and you would see and explosion , like with MP3 and eBooks

Saturday 16 February 2013

Pause For A Hoarse Horse

Watch movies online and free tv

I nicked the title for this post from a seventies album by the band Home, which you can sample here . This is going to be a short post just about the whole kerfuffle of Findus Beef Lasagne and Tesco's burgers being contaminated with "horse meat". It's not poison !!

How often have you be so hungry you could eat a "scabby horse between two bread vans" ? When you go to a restaurant and order steak , you just expect beef , but it could really be any meat and the vendor would not be done under the trade descriptions act.

There's talk of criminal activity and nefarious dealings but the basic facts are that beef costs ten times as much as horse , and let's face it , when it's minced it becomes even further removed from the source animal. Also it's the risk and price you pay for eating ready meals and convenience foods.

It really isnt that difficult to make meals fronm scratch. Get meat from your local butcher (NOT Morrison's Market Street or Waitrose Meat Counter) , support your local butcher . The meat will be local , and visible and trustworthy . And you will probably find it's a lot cheaper.

Also did you know that supermakets plump up their bacon by injecting it with water , which means when you cook it , it shrinks to about a tenth of the original size you thought your were getting.

Anyway I still can't get over the media and gullible public's reaction to this . I'm surprised David Cameron hasn't applauded them on the meat suppliers cost cutting initiative ,I mean he expecte deveryone else to do it. But the Mail and Express et al continue on about the scandal . I mean it's not like we're eating Soylent Green ...... yet 

Thursday 14 February 2013

Forecast Cloudy

The lyrics to the Joni Mitchell song are remarkable pertinent to to The Cloud we know todow.

I keep getting bombarded with offers of Cloud storage (Apple/iTunes) and Cloud Players (Amazon). These are all very well and each has offered me 5GB of free storage so I can listen to my own music anywhere. However these are dependent on a reliable internet connection , so it's fine if you are at home or at a friends , or maybe in an area with reliable free WIFI. In a 4G area it will also be fine and 10GB is a hell of a lot of space to play with.

But you have to remember it's only available when you have a connection. When 4G is ubiquitous speed will not be an issue for anyone , but remember that your daya and files will effectively under someone elses control.

On the numbers involved my first desktop computer had a 10 MB hard disc , (thats 10 minutes of normal quality MP3 music!) , but I could still play colour graphic games under the DOS operating system.

The amounts of cloud storage would enable you to store 400 albums of music , a dozen DIVX movies but there wouldnt be enough room to store a High Definition movie within the 5GB, although they do offer you more space at a price. Though I would rather watch through Netflix or Blinkbox and again you come down to the issue of having a permnent reliable connection.

You are not at the moment able to watch a streamed movie in a remote Scottish Glen on on the train from Aberdeen to London.

I still havent used my Cloud Storage yet ........

Sunday 10 February 2013

Kitchen Armoury

Never really thought about before , but almost everything you have in the kitchen could be used as a lethal weapon. You have access to fires , gas , electricity , water , an explosive combination at the best of times.

Then pans and heavy roasting dishes would make effective heavy duty blunt instruments. Follow this up with meat skewers and something as innocent seeming as a cheese grater and potato peeler , in the wrong hands could do a lot of damage.

Then in the cutlery drawer you have knives and forks all of which would do your skin complexion no good whatsoever.

Oh yes then you can heat cooking oil and melt butter and spreads , which a remarkably efficient aid to skin removal.

This is before we hit the knife block and meat cleavers !! I'm just surprised that there arent an enormous number of cooking fatalities..

... and to think they let people like Gordon Ramsay in kitchens !!

Saturday 9 February 2013

Another Saturday

Well this is another post today. Interesting writing a blog post with no internet access but I'm using my iPad with my rickety case cum keyboard. Minor Injuries is quiet today at the RVI but foot is painful so hopefully can get something sorted today. But there are other things to distract my attention today.

 They have WiFi in here that will cost you a pound an hour. It's amazing that they can charge that when you can get superfast broadband for around twenty pounds a month. It's also amazing the number of people who walk in here expecting to be treated immediately. These are probably the same people who thing the NHS should be privatised to save the 5p in the pound of their taxable income.

Anyway today Newcastle United's Gallic army go to London to take on Tottenham Hotspur. Last year it was a five goal defeat courtesy of Harry Redknapp's team. They got rid of Harry and now have Andre Villas Boas , so it will be interesting to see the outcome, although it isnt likely I'll see the match and by the time I post this I will know the result. As a back for entertainment I have a copy of Stuart Maconie's Hope and Glory, which is entertaining but not as entertaining as the people watching I'm doing. An elderly couple complaining there are no shops, a group of girls , one in a wheely chair after a good night out.

The staff are al good natured and at times places like this must be dreadful. Have you ever noticed you can never easily pass an old person on a footpath. This confused me for years until it dawned on me what was happening. Normal people normally move slightly to make room so you can pass. Old people don't. It happened this morning, an old guy in front of me just stopped. He managed to take up the whole width of the footpath with his shopping bag so to get past I had to walk in the road I got to the bus stop and when he arrived he just parked himself at the front of the queue.

 Just heard the receptionist say that her husband has deleted her as a friend on Facebook. Quite funny. Apparently she now has a license to have a good time. The old couple nearby are getting on my nerves with their moaning. Well it's the wife actually. The husband is trying to make things easier and she's having none of it. Some folk are only happy when they are miserable.

 Now a charver family has appeared , screeching child in a push chair , moaning mutha and I think it's a daughter who has come for treatment. The Newcastle match is about to kick off so I am going to give this a rest.

Oh Tottenham beat Newcastle 2-1 with two excellent Gareth Bale goals

Who Will Be First?

Six years ago I walked into my present place of work (at the time Orange)  and picked up a company newspaper .The front page of the article stated that that they had a target of 30% market penetration with mobile phone ownership. The actual market penetratation at the time was something like 130% !! These figures may be coloured by the mists of time and so don't take them as gospel because they are based on my sieve like memory. However when you see suits on a train with a laptop , tablet and 3 phones trying to commandeer a table you can see the 130% market penetration in action.

Anyway, since that time companies have grown and evolved , and the things we have in our hands that we use to talk to each other bear no resemblance at all to Alexander Graham Bell's invention. In the late 80's a mobile phone required a briefcase sized battery pack and looked like you average military walkie talkie. Then battery technology came on leaps and bounds allowing creation of one piece phones that would actually fit in your hand. Sitting in the background at the the time you had the internet thing and you had the WAP protocol whence enabled very basic web access from the cutting edge phones. I always thought it looked rubbish but that's the only way progress is made. At the time it was groundbreaking , you could be in the middle of nowhere (assuming a signal) and find out the lasted horse racing results or football scores. A bit like Teletext and Ceefax on your phone.

Phones then got expanded keyboards , bigger screens , and eventually touch screen technology was integrated into the model. All the time capabilities are being enhances and phones can do more. I remember one of my Nokias had "Snake" on it , my Samsung Note 2 allows me to watch films , play "Broken Sword" , perform Office functions , connect to email , have a fully functioned web browser, and install new software if it takes my fancy. Of course this is all dependant on have a signal, but if my superfast 4G EE signal isnt available , I can connect to WiFi in Starbucks , Wetherspoons or wherever. So really it's not a phone is it?

It's a hand held computer, 20 years ago I was working on mainframes with less processing power that the device I have in my hand. It's three months since EE brought us into the 4G age in the UK , and the combined performance of device and signal means you can watch cath up TV whenever and wherever you want. My Samsung Note 2 is probably more powerful that the Star Trek communicators and tricorders. Combine with GPS if we had transporter beams we would be on a par with Star Trek. Even ten years ago you could not imagine being where we are now with these devices. EE is not , and never has been a phone company , it is about communications and connections , making the world more accessible and bringing people closer together.

Which brings me to the point of this post , we are not using mobile phones anymore , they are communication devices and hand held computers. However phone is a one syllable recognisable label. Mobil Phone is three but still recognisable. I am just wondering how long it will before someone instigates a new all encompassing name for these devices. If Steve Jobs were alive I would have said Apple , finally ditching the iPhone series with:

   "The iCom - It's not your phone , It's Your Life"

Friday 8 February 2013

Twitter No More , Instagram No More ...

Not quite "Letter From America" by The Proclaimers , but it sounds sort of snappy. Today I deleted my Twitter and Instagram accounts. The real reason was that really I didnt get anything from them , and you do that many tweets or Instagram Pictures that they just get lost in the billions of posts on both planforms . Twitter is supposed to be 140 character limit yet allows pictures , and now 6 second video clips!! Instagram , while it has some interesting filters , results in a lot of dross between the good pictures , though I suppose you could say that of all digital photographs.

The other thing I think both these platforms stop you from posting anything interesting anywhere , you post almost without thinking. I know there's a lot of famous people on there , but if Stephen Fry says something really worth hearing it will find it's way out of Twitter.

I'll probably keep my Facebook account , as it has got me in touch with people who I'd lost touch with , and can enable me to do what I did on Twitter and Instagram.. So you won't see anymore hashtags from me , I don't know if my old tweets stay or will be removed , I'm not bothered either way. And if I hadn't deleted the accounts I wouldn't be writing this post.

Lot's of people like Twitter and find it useful , though some people just seem intent on following as many people as they can. Just decided they are not for me any more

Saturday 2 February 2013

Apple Are Annoying Me, Amazon get Worse, and Is Mike Ashley Newcastle's Best Ever Owner?

Apple have done some good stuff . They have made some stylish devices and via iTunes my main website enables me to have a steady income in a few clicks , or it would do if Apple / iTunes didnt keep changing the catalog numbers of items . Any reasonable company makes sure it's supplier can find products via a static reference, , but iTunes can recatalog an item in less than two wees , so my itunes link goesto iTunes and iTunes tells the customer that the item is no longer available. It actually is but iTunes have screwed the link and me and themselves out of a sale.

Not only tht the new version of itunes is attrocious , trying to load too much irrelevant information and take over your computer by filling the screen. Not good.

Amazon have now decided they will only pay commission on sales to brand new customers . So if I send an existing Amazon customer to buy something , I don't get commision. I could remove all my Amazon links but that would be a horrendous amout of work, and they can change the rules as they like because I , on my own , mean nothing to them. £50-£100 a month has dropped to £20 if I'm lucky. Amazon are the only company that do this. Having said that , at least their catalog numbers remain simple and constant and only disappear when the item does.

Le Toon Shirt
..and Mike Ashley , has had his foot in his mouth so many times , but has Newcastle United on a secure financial footing , and has Pardew (or Pardieu as he's now known)  and Carr and co building an amazingly entertaining team. They're still in Europe , which is more than can be said for Manchester City , and if you start to list list the players you enjoy wantching the list goes on. Krul , Guitierrez , Taylor , Ben Arfa , Santon , Anita , Cisse , Cabaye , Sissoko  and on and on. Remember the fans were sniffy when Demba Ba turned up but werent happy to see the back of him. Was great today to see the fans in their berets , taches with strings of onions. Ashley certainly creates the environment for the fans to feel good . Beating Chelsea 3-2 helps as well.

Casualty Blues

I'm writing this in the Casualty Department in Newcastle's Royal Victoria Hospital. I'm using a document producing office suite on my iPad , and like anything new still a bit unsure of how to use it. Text is coming out at a reasonable speed using my blu tooth keyboard and the spell checker is good but unobtrusive.

Anyway last time I was here there seemed a lot less people, but this time I've just turned up because of a possible bone fracture in my left foot. After this I have to go up a ladder to fix a gutter and that has to happen. The two situations however are mutually incompatible. I always criticise people for not following doctor's orders but I have a feeling that today I will be one of those. I've noticed the announcement system is not very in your face so I am slightly worried I may miss my appointment.

I've just had a thought I hope this office suite can do a full cut and paste or I will be more than a bit miffed.

There's no mobile signal in here so I cant even look for outside entertainment though there are plenty of people franticly messing with their phones in the forlorn hope of finding a signal. You shouldn't use your phone in a hospital for similar reasons why you shouldn't use one on an airplane. It could interfere with sensitive equipment. As I say almost everyone here is messing with at least one phone.

It is quiet and I will soon save this and go back to reading Stuart Maconie's Hope and Glory, which is proving more laborious that expected as I zipped through his previous books Cider With Roadies and Pies and Prejudice , but it may be just my current state of mind (exhaustion). I've just read Shaun Ryder's Twisting My Melon and that was a fairly easy if unexpectedly hefty read.

Anyway when I realised I would have another two hours to wait decided to make an appointment with my GP and get myself sorted that way.