Monday, April 18, 2016

EU and Worker's rights - you can't have it both ways.

One of many scare stories I've seen on the EU is that workers rights would be adversely affected if we left.

The justification seems to go along the lines of "our elected government wouldn't give the workers enough rights so we had to have them imposed by an unelected body outside".

This is very dangerous logic and it assumes that EU will only ever give us desirable non-democratic impositions.

Either you accept the EU is partially non-democratic or you don't.

You can't turn a blind eye just when it does things you like.

Even though I am a firm believer in workers rights (I don't think they go anywhere like far enough actually), I oppose the idea that the EU can decide we have to do things that our government didn't want to - that way madness lies.

Vicky Pryce - Again

Still being wheeled out as an economics expert on BBC Radio - why? Can't they find any experts without a conviction for perverting the course of justice?

Friday, July 03, 2015

Stuff the BBC

So, as I predicted, Vicky Pryce has been popping up with sickening regularity on the BBC.

I am not sure why they have decided she should be singled out for post-clink rehabilitation.  I bet there are plenty much more deserving cases they could be helping.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Little Englanders

Watching Question Time on catchup made me wish SNP or Plaid were standing here so I could vote for 'em and shake up some of the small-minded little Englanders - don't people even bother to travel around the very small island we live on?

Janet Street-Porter was particularly vicious to Leanne Wood for no discernible reason.

She also seemed to think that as she has a Holiday home in Harrogate she "lives" oop North.

You could pick Harrogate up and put it down next to Bath or Hampstead and no-one would notice!

Monday, March 16, 2015

British Politics - A New Low

Grant Shapps gets my award for mealy-mouthed bollock-speak today.  I won't recount the story - suffice to say that a major political party should have as it's chairman a bloke with a highly questionable past in dubious "internet marketing" (is that a euphemism for spam?) speaks volumes for the kind of people they respect.

In the best traditions of Robert Armstrong, Shapps can't quite bring himself to admit he lied, so he says he "over-firmly denied" that he had a second "job" as alter-ego web marketeer Michael Green, when he was an MP.  As recently as last week he was "over-firmly denying" it.

In the best traditions of Lord Archer, Jonathan Aitken, Chris Huhne, Vicky Price  et al, it's only wrong if you get caught, deny everything and threaten legal action and hope the truth goes away.

Monday, March 02, 2015

BBC Licence Fee

As I've mentioned before on here, I am one of the apparently 3% who don't pay the TV Licence Fee in the UK.

I withdrew my support for the BBC because of the gut-wrenching spectacle of this cosy club awarding each other incredible payouts.  

Most of us mere mortals wonder how it can be possible for people to have a job, to do it so badly they have no choice but to resign, and then be given a huge lump of cash as a goodbye gift.

According to contemporaneous press reports, Peter Fincham, the former BBC1 controller walked away in 2007 with £500,000 after resigning.  He was the one who presided over the misrepresentation of the Queen in a BBC "Documentary".

Mark Byford didn't think there was anything wrong with him getting £949,000, he even popped up on the Beeb later touting his book. 
A report by the National Audit Office (NAO), released in July 2013, criticised the BBC for paying out £25m in severance to 150 outgoing senior BBC managers - £2m more than their contracts stipulated.

So it's now all better - right?  Well no, actually.

Since then we've had the Saville revelations, Rolf Harris and others - all of whom we paid for from licence fees.

I gave up my TV licence entirely legally.  I am fully compliant with the law that states I must not watch any live TV - no matter who broadcasts it, and I don't.

But that's not enough - these vultures want to make me pay to watch online content on catchup - not just the BBCs, but anyone's according to Tony Hall, the boss, reported in the BBC today.

Only I don't want to pay for the BBC.  Hall is consulting about a cap on these obscene payouts at £150K.  Note that he hasn't actually stopped them - nor is he going to, but he's having a think about a cap.

I don't wish to support the BBC on that basis alone (although there are many other reasons) and I think it is complacent and incorrect that he should imagine I should be compelled to.  I would be more than happy to opt out consumption of any BBC content, including their web and radio contents if he wishes to push it - fine with me, but he's not entitled to demand that my viewing of any online TV content is at the price of a fee to his organisation.

This is a bad thing because it could appear that I'm aligned with a variety of extremist nutters, conspiracy theorists and other tin-foil hatters, or folk like Murdoch who would love to destroy the BBC so they could take more money off people.  I don't wish to be in bed with these people, but I don't intend to pay the BBC another penny until they have a proper clean-up of their act, and bring back some proper objective new reporting, too.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Muslim protesters in Whitehall

According to Reuters, The Independent, and plenty of other news outlets, there was a protest by Muslims in Whitehall at the weekend.

I can find no trace of any coverage of it in the BBC - why not?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lightbulb Moment

I had one of those lightbulb moments at the gym this week. 

I was sexually abused by an old bloke when I was a kid. 

It only happened once - I knew it wasn't on and told him to pack it in before it went any further, and he did. I hardly ever think about it - but I am starting to wonder if the effects of it have been more significant than I realised. 

No idea what to do about it. 

Dunno if there is anything I can do. 

I heard a chap on the radio last year who was much more seriously abused by Cyril Smith - he said he can't stick at anything or concentrate on stuff - that struck a chord.

I'm not angry with him or about it - and I guess he's long dead now, this was 40+ years ago.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Ched Evans

I know, it's been done to death.  I've actually posted tons of stuff debating and arguing with folk on various forums.

One reason I did this was that I wished to test my own arguments and refine (and maybe even change) my opinion.

Not for the first time, another blogger has a well written and cogent post that expresses my sentiments perfectly, and it's here.

After I read that, I came across a tweet which had retweeted one from Beatrix Cambell, who had come across a blogger and tweeter calling himself BallsTheCat -

There were some, er similarities in the text, BallsTheCat's having been created a few days later than the one.  

Today, BallsThe Cat has disappeared from Twitter and the internet.  

Update ElleZed  ( on Twitter) has written a further post - I'd like to say "I'm the Mob" too, but I'm not sure I qualify.  I do agree with every single word she's written in the new blog entry - here

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Back to Unbuntu

Looks like the Hard Drive is failing on my desktop PC.

It was running Vista but it kept hanging, no explanation and no way to mend it.

I installed Ubuntu just to get the thing going and back up my music and photos, but aside from the occasional hiccough it's behaving quite nicely.

I am 99% sure the hard drive's on the way out but Ubuntu once again came to the rescue.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Co-op Meat Shortage alert

It looked like a great offer, and I've got so tired of ASDA's faulty self-service tills that I've switched my allegiance back to Co-op ( I left a full basket of shopping in ASDA awaiting the attention of the inept bloke who oversees it all when it once again started whining about stuff not being where it should be when it was).

Unfortunately, the Co-op has a different issue - the offer looks good, but you can't buy any of it because there isn't any -

I spoke the very nice woman on the checkout about it - but she didn't seem to be able to help.  Then I was collared by a woman doing a survey on the way out - I gave the appropriate rating for stock levels.

When I got home I thought about how far we've come with social media and so on, maybe I could drop them an e-mail to complain, so I did.

The response was about as redolent of East German Communism as the empty shelves -

"We currently have a high volume of customer queries, and this has caused a delay in our response times. Our current response time is between 7 - 14 days. 

If your email concerns a store based issue, please provide the following:

1. The address of the store concerned
2. The name or names of the staff involved if applicable
3. Your full postal address and a contact telephone number

If we do not receive the above required information or hear from you within three weeks of this email, we will consider the matter resolved and take no further action."

I may have to go back to ASDA after all, it's cheaper, has full shelves and I'll try and go at times when I can avoid the crappy self-service tills.

UPDATE: Called in to the Co-op again this morning on the way past.  It looks a bit less like East Germany but no sign of meatballs.  I spotted the manager and asked him about it.  He was remarkably frank - it seems that sales of meatballs have plummeted during the summer, so they've stopped ordering any.  It was nice to get the truth - but bless (don't) the Co-op for putting up details of the meatballs offer, knowing full well no-one could make use of it.  I thanked him, and decided to visit our local ASDA instead.  No Meatballs.

Update - after less than 3 weeks I get this -


Our Ref: 00191879     
Dear Mr Urko,

Thank you for contacting us regarding the problem you have experienced with the Central England .............. store.

This store is owned and managed by a separate Society from ourselves.

I have forwarded your complaint to them and they will contact you directly. 

Yours sincerely

Pamela Newall
Customer Careline Team 

Wonderful - but what the flip does it mean?  When is the CO-OP not the Co-OP?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Anchor Butter gets my award for rubbish rewards - and useless response!

I wrote to them to tell them what I thought -

"I've stopped buying Anchor butter. The reward scheme is incredibly mean in my opinion. These things ought to be an incentive to buy the product.  I have switched to Co-Op own brand."

And, to prove the contempt they have for us (customers), I got this reply -

"Thanks so much for getting in touch with us.

Thanks also your feedback about the selection of rewards on the Anchor Rewards Club.

Keep entering those codes and building up your points, as new kitchenware items are added to the site on a regular basis. These items are all free delivery.

Your points won't expire in the meantime.

In the meantime, we also have plenty of other rewards such as experiences available.
Click here to find out more -"

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Stolen Loyalty

I used to have some Airmiles.  Airmiles promised you could keep 'em "for ever".  Then they went bust and became Avios.  I had a few hundred Avios.

I logged onto my account today to find they've been stolen.  It seems that unless you earn more or spend some within a certain period, they just wipe out all you had.

Well stuff that - whatever these schemes were supposed to reward, they all end up leaving a bitter pill when you are prevented from spending them because the thieving swines don't honour the promise made when you sign up.

Is there actually no-one left you can trust?

Not quite the same, but this bloke had his stolen and his loyalty rewarded in a similar manner -

Update - I have a Shell "Loyalty" card - they have been merrily informing me that points earned from spending on fuel have been converted to Avios.  Except they haven't.  I still have zero Avios.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

More on our beloved Legal System

I listened with growing anger to an item on BBC Radio 5 today about how the family of a man killed in a hit-and-run crash were treated by (almost) the entire legal establishment.

In just one of many stunners, the Clerk of the Court told the dead man's disabled mother off for having the temerity to have a bottle of water in court.

I've had to deal with this petty-fogging little Hitlers and their mega-Hitler bosses in the past.  There is almost none of my tax money I resent being spent more than propping up this corrupt, nasty, self-serving gang of self-satisfied gits (I am talking about Judges, Lawyers and all their hangers on).

The "Victim Statement" written from the heart by the victim's daughter was re-written by the lawyer (because nothing is allowed to stand in the way of the "majesty" of the law - especially not stuff like actual feelings and certainly not everyday language).  The family felt the driver who killed their loved one was a coward for not facing up to his actions, and for leaving the scene without offering any assistance - but that bit was left out of the victim statement - I mean heaven forbid the family might say anything bad about the guy that did that eh?

The senior Lawyer who was wheeled out to face the gentlest of BBC criticisms pathetically bleated about "lack of resources" as if that was an excuse for a lack of basic human decency.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, at the Oxford Media Convention on Wednesday 26 February 2014

I have taken a section of Mr Hall's speech and added a few comments (in bold) -

Of course, there is always advertising.
Yet having no advertising is one of the characteristics that people most value about the BBC.
It’s not just the interruption that people dislike. 

The BBC is full of repetitious, disruptive, interruptive adverts for its own programmes and services.

Advertising would also narrow the range of content on the BBC. And by taking advertising money away from ITV and Channel 4 it would make public service broadcasting much worse across the board.

Some critics of the BBC who reluctantly accept this case for the licence fee, or at least see that others accept it, have started to make a different argument.

They say the licence fee is a dinosaur from a pre-digital age, doomed to inevitable extinction in an on-demand world where you don’t watch live TV.

The facts just don’t bear this out. Around 90% of all television viewing is still live. Well under 2% of households consume only on-demand TV content. And this number is growing only slowly.

Well count me in - I am one of your 2%  I stopped paying my licence fee and I have disconnected my aerial (and sky dish incidentally).  Since I stopped just flopping down to watch whatever happened to be on, my life has improved no end.  Increasingly, the BBC offers me very little of interest, and I am buggered if I will pay for any more London-centric media luvvies lifestyle programming (and fat payoffs when they leave).

Funding by licence fee therefore remains practical and sustainable.

Yet one of the advantages of the licence fee is that it’s flexible and has adapted over the years. It started as a radio licence. Then TV. Then colour TV. And then the relatively simple change to the regulations in 2004 to cover the consumption of live TV on new devices such as computers. When it’s adapted itself so well over the decades, why would you suddenly give it up?

When and how best to take the next step is, of course, a matter for the Government. Our view is that there is room for modernisation so that the fee applies to the consumption of BBC TV programmes, whether live on BBC One or on-demand via BBC iPlayer.

Even though I only watch online, I don't watch live stuff- because it's against the law.  Clearly you realise that by allowing me to legally watch an occasional (and it really is occasional) BBC programme on iPlayer, you are missing out, and despite the fact that I'm part of the 2% (and rising slowly) you feel you need to take your bat home.  

That is fine - I get the argument that says I shouldn't watch it if I'm not paying for it.  I just hope your "enforcement" regime is able to distinguish between genuine offenders and people you or Crapita don't like the look of, because the record so far is not encouraging.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

£1m wasted in court after legal aid protests

The last closed shop.  The last home of restrictive practises.  "Self regulating".

Do I have any sympathy?  I'm afraid not - there has apparently been an explosion in the numbers of Criminal Lawyers in recent years.  Like almost all the rest of us (with the exception of MPs, CEOs etc) they are now feeling the pinch. Well Boo Hoo.

They can try and dress it up as a threat to our wonderful justice system which is the envy of the world. This presupposes one accepts that's true - and I don't.

RSPCA has become 'sinister and nasty', warns head of the Countryside Alliance

Pardon? What the actual flip? Gen Sir Barney White-Spunner - what next, will the Russians start questioning the Chinese Human Rights record?

I have nothing against the RSPCA or the Countryside Alliance in general, but there are aspects of each that could fit the dear General's description, in my not at all humble opinion.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

MPs Pay - They still don't get it

In common, I imagine, with many people, my income both in real terms (adjusted for inflation) and in actual cash terms has fallen considerably in recent years.  I am fortunate in that there were many areas I could (and have) cut back on so that I can keep my head above water.

Imagine if a wonderful independent review body now came along and said "you've fallen behind, you need an 11% rise this year" (it would need to be more like 40% but that's beside the point).

Matthew Paris (who I have a lot of time for) said on the radio that MPs should be comparable with other Senior Public sector employees, such as Doctors.  But they aren't Doctors, or Teachers.  There seems to be some idea that working in the public sector should guarantee some kind of parity with others in the sector - there is absolutely no logical reason for that.

Mr Paris went on to observe (with uncharacteristic ignorance) that other occupations received expenses just as MPs do.  Perhaps when he was an MP Mr Paris wasn't excessive in his expense claims (in fairness many, perhaps even most MPs were reasonable within the rules).   The fact is, though, that even after reforms, many things MPs can be reimbursed for free of tax would attract tax if paid to anyone else as expenses.

But I'm not even whining about my circumstances - what about all the public and private sector workers who've had pay freezes for the last few years?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I'm Sick of Perfectly Good English Words being redefined by PR and Marketing Wonks

When did increases (in prices) and decreases (in interest/value etc) become synonyms for "changes"? 

As a tribute to this crap I have amended the most recent offender in accordance with how it would be if it had been written in plain English instead of mealy-mouthed bollocks.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

We need an independent review

David Cameron, like most politicians, has a blimmin' cheek.

Now we need an enquiry about how the former boss at Co-Op bank got his job.

Apparently the issue is that he may (or may not) have been taking illegal drugs and/or not had much idea about how to run a bank. 

On that basis, we need an independent review of how the bosses of most major banks (and other enterprises for that matter) got their jobs.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Only in England

Could the Police conclude that a bloke managed to put himself in a holdall and padlock it from the outside entirely alone, and expect the rest of us to believe it, rather than take the word of his family and the coroner that he must have had "help".

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ed Davey - Energy Customers are not Cash Cows

Well as it'll soon be panto season - oh yes we are.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Richard Bacon - Richard Wilson

Hilariously today after a colleague colleague compared him to Alan Partridge, Bacon has now adopted a faux-posh luvvie accent to replace his usual mockney-made-good (he's from Mansfield*) as a response to interviewing Richard Wilson.

*Mansfield is considerably North of Watford, and even Watford Gap.

Friday, November 08, 2013

John Cole

A proper old-school journalist and fabulously articulate and lyrical bloke who I always enjoyed seeing and hearing on telly.

A definite one-off and the kind of chap to challenge the moaners from Middle (Southern) England who are sadly still with us.  They wrote to the BBC in droves to complain they couldn't understand him - but only because they were too blinkered and ignorant to try.  

By his sheer forcefulness he blazed a trail for those of us without RP (Southern English) accents to be accepted further afield without (too much) ridicule, even if he had to put up with plenty himself.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Richard Bacon and Mark Byford

Unsurprisingly, Bacon claims "no-one would give that money back", going on to say that no doubt one would have made plans for the cash - especially three years on.

Wake up Richard

1. Not many people are on the gravy train where they can get those kind of payoffs - I have friends who are still owed legitimate wages and expenses from an employer that went bust. 

2. Byford has a pension fund in excess of £3million - he doesn't need the money 

3. It would be more honest if Byford mounted a defence of it - but he couldn't even bring himself to suggest he's worth it - which suggests to me that he can't, because he (like almost anyone else), isn't.

4. I can't say whether I'd give it (or some of it) back if I was in his shoes, but I sincerely hope I would.

Richard Bacon

I'm not a fan.  If he really is that vacuous, he shouldn't be on national radio.  If it's an act, why?

He's currently doing a fabulous job of asking inane questions of a clearly superior guest Hooman Majd.  

Having established that it's not permitted for a man to shake hands with a woman in Iran, he went on to opine that "It must lead to awkward moments when there are foreign diplomatic visitors*" - to which the guest simply and calmly pointed out that, unlike Bacon, visiting diplomats tend to be well researched and briefed rather than blithering fools with no idea and therefore it's not an issue. 

At the start of his programme, sorry "show" he told the tale of his promise to refund the BBC licence fee for anyone who didn't enjoy the interview he did with Sir David Attenborough.

Unsurprisingly (certainly to me) someone had asked him to make good on that promise.

I didn't hear the interview, but suspect I might have been tempted to ask for refund - except I've stopped paying the licence fee. 

In a previous "show" he pointed out that Alan Yentob had delivered a speech in which he said that he (Yentob) and Bacon were overpaid.  If Bacon is paid anything at all (and he is), that is certainly true.

*This may not be verbatim.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Byford - Not me guv

Byford (matching a pattern of people interviewed recently on Radio 5) was unrepentant and refused to give any straight answers.

When asked if he'd give any of the extra redundancy cash he got back, he couldn't just say "no" which is the honest answer - instead he squirmed about with some mealy-mouthed stuff about how he had been keen to establish that his payoff had been given the OK by top brass.

Asked if he thought he was worth the money, he again avoided saying yes (or no) and blustered on about how he had just apparently gratefully accepted his pay in 40 years of loyal service; as if he was some minor character in Dickens.

Not pleased about his great good fortune, just meekly accepting of it.

So that's it - no thought about if he was worth the cash (or presumably about where it was coming from) - at one point he even started to moan that he'd been invited on to "discuss something else" (i.e. for a massively valuable free plug for the book he's just written).

Wake up.  It really, really, isn't just a few embittered old gits like me writing pointless blogs - you, Byford, and all your pals need to get a grip on this stuff now or the BBC is finished.

For my part, I have (entirely legally) opted out of any further BBC funding until further notice.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

At last - something that isn't grumpy!

A bracing and lovely walk in the very picturesque Seven Sisters Park.  I think this is one of the Sisters (possibly another in the background).

It's all North of Islington

Report of the current News Of The World phone hacking trial on Radio 5 casually referred to a message left on Millie Dowler's voicemail by a Recruiter from "up North". 
The recruiter was from Telford as even the most casual enquiry establishes.
Why say "Up North" anyway? - if you need to refer to location, just name it!

My Weekend Rail Trip to Brighton

I was trying very hard not to be grumpy but it was difficult.  It started with variety of petty reminders that we just can't be bothered to get simple stuff right.  

The Station Buffet had no change.  The Train buffet had no change.  I mean FFS what lily livered accountant and/or manager has decided to make their staff face paying customers without the benefit of change? 

My ticket demanded in very stern terms that I hold (and use) a seat reservation.  Neither of the two trains on which I had reservations had the seat reservations shown in any way with the consequence that "my" seat on each was occupied.

My outbound and return tickets in spite of being treated carefully, steadfastly refused to open any ticket barrier on any station. 

Then there was the loud mouthed ignorant Southerner explaining England and the English to his Korean companion.  Highlights were how bad it was the BBC now allowed  so-called "regional" (i.e. not Southern) accents, how some bloke on TV was from Sunderland "or somewhere" and consequently sounded "awful", and how terrible the weather was bound to be in "The North".

I was going to try and say a few words in a cod Sunderland accent, but then he started telling the bloke how Human Rights - in particular, the "right to life" were all wrong and how wrong we were to abolish the death penalty - his justification for this involved a lot of convoluted whining about how wrong mankind was to refuse to accept the authority of God and/or Jesus. 

At that point it was either say something or move carriages so I moved.  

What an oxygen thief.

Mark Byford has written a book

He's just had a free ten-minute advert for it courtesy of Radio 5.  Don't these people have any shame at all?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

That Nice Mr Major (reprise)

Even in retirement they have short memories.  As I observed here, Major was no friend to cold elderly people when he had the chance.

At least I suppose he's no worse than Tony "I hate ID cards when in opposition and love 'em when elected" Blair, or Mrs pro and anti Europe Thatcher.

Monday, October 14, 2013

So we've heard from Huhne, now we have - Vicky Pryce: Most women jailed due to men in their life

As I predicted, upon release, Vicky Pryce is doing an “interview” on BBC Radio 5.  She has written a book about prison.  She has some startling (not) revelations.

Suddenly, because she (as she says herself, a person of a type not usually found inside) has been to prison, she has noticed that we are sending loads of people (notably women) to prison when we shouldn’t.

Her arrogance is staggering.  

In the interview she dodges all the difficult questions – like her ridiculous defence, and concentrates on her amazing “findings” from her time in prison.  She refuses to answer questions about her ex-husband or the offence she committed.

Victoria Derbyshire (who I rate very highly by the way – unlike the Daily Mail) gave Pryce an opportunity to say she was sorry for what she had done, which Pryce pointedly refused to take, preferring to say she was sorry that her old life was gone.  The clear implication was that she didn’t think it was important not to tell lies about driving offences, or in related court proceedings, and she was only sorry she got caught.

If she honestly feels so keen to reform the judicial system, perhaps she could do volunteer work working with other offenders – quietly and away from the radio.

As for the BBC, I am more pleased than ever that I no longer contribute to the coffers of that organisation which is so very keen to talk to “celeb” criminals but gives hardly any airtime to the people Pryce claims to have suddenly discovered.

Monday, September 09, 2013

More People who don't get it - the BBC

I have been a firm supporter of the BBC in the past, but it's evident that they've been part of the gut-wrenching gravy train for a very few senior folk and their pals that I find utterly disgusting.

It's inexcusable when banks do it, but even worse when it's funded by a universal licence for anyone who wants to watch live broadcast TV.

The top brass and former top brass getting asked about this seem completely unrepentant.

In protest at this, and other BBC excesses and failures, I won't be renewing my BBC licence this year.  I am going to stop watching live broadcasts, and stop recording stuff as it is broadcast, so I will be within the law.

I urge you to do the same - send them a signal that they have to stop this crap right now - because so far they aren't listening.

Chris Huhne I'd have got away with it if not for that meddling Murdoch

Yeah, right, Huhne.  Murdoch's newspaper folk were only after you because you called for the hacking investigation being reopened.  If only they hadn't discovered your affair and then "groomed" your wife (interesting new use of grooming by the way - now "grooming" someone is when you use some kind of evil Svengali intervention to get them to truth), you'd have got away with it.  Well poor you.

I can't in all honesty criticise you for having an affair (having had one myself once), but I can do so for all the lies you have told, including the money you have taken from my pocket by doing so.

You don't get it, do you?  What you did was wrong, and just because the Murdoch press has no standards and decency, it doesn't excuse you for having none either.

Update - I'm not alone - as usual Longrider says it better than I could.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Poor Starbucks - ahh didums

Apparently Starbucks are fed up with us saying their tax affairs are a bit dodgy, and especially since they've patronisingly agreed to throw a few quid in the hat for us now.  Well ha ha ha Starbucks.  As a bloke who must've spent thousands with you over the years - you can sod right off.   I don't need to spend any more with you; there's plenty of choice, and to be honest, I haven't missed you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Entwistle and Patten

Why does no-one ever challenge the reasoning that says that some top-brass at (say) the BBC get a year's salary for messing things up?  

Why does that apply uniquely to to people who are already hugely well paid?
Chris Patten who got given a grace and favour gig in Hong Kong by John Major after the electors told him what they thought of him, decides Entwistle can have more of our cash then he's strictly entitled to because he would have got a full year's cash if fired and Sir Christopher Bland comes on the radio and says it's fine, then they interview some top city headhunter who says Entwistle would have been paid billions more if he worked in the private sector.  But he didn't.
All of the above is paid for by you and me, every penny.
Nothing has changed - it is just the same gravy train for the well-healed and well connected and misery and spite for everyone else.

Now Patten pops up again saying Entwistle wanted even more and we got a good deal by dodging his lawyers!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Why I'm giving up recruitment agents and agencies

They promise the earth.  They never bother to call me back or reply to my e-mails (even if they mailed me first). All of the jobs and contract work I've ever had has been via personal contacts in spite of maintaining a usually one way contact with loads of recruiters.

Why I'm pirating Blu-Ray

I don't "do" peer to peer fileshare etc downloads.  Call me old fashioned, but I pay for music and films.  However, recent experience is changing that.  Last week we got lent a (legal original) Blu-Ray of Hugo.

It was fantastic visually and looked an intriguing story, but after 7 minutes it went all pixellated and packed in. No amount of persuasion would get us past the 7 minute point.

We gave the disc back.

So this week I bought my own copy for the thick end of 16 quid.  It also refused to play nicely.  According to Sharp, via Google, I needed to update the firmware on the BD player.  Duly done, the player refused to play the disc at all, no trailers, no menu, not even 7 minutes.

So I tried my laptop - quite recent and fitted with a Blu-Ray drive.  It kept asking me if I wanted to Update the AACS License [sic] but it didn't matter what I answered, it just repeated the message and refused to let me see my film.  Google found some people suggesting I needed a software update.  That took a while (and quite a chunk of my download quota) but produced the exact same outcome.

So I have downloaded some software that will allow me to "rip" the content.  All this, I remind you, because I was stupid enough to try and put money into the pockets of the film's producers.  Well, stuff you and your, frankly, wanky copyright protection Entertainment In Video.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Novel

I like to think I have captured the popular zeitgeist with my largely autobiographical tale of a bloke who has brilliant ideas but never finishes anything.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cognizant - fail

So when I finally got the "apply on company website" button to appear on Linkedin, I started the process.

But I gave up. I can do the job, I'd quite like to, judging by what it said, but I'm not filling in pages and pages of Taleo-based nonsense in a pointless information grab just to see if I entered enough suitable keywords to pass the automatic sifting process. Forget that - I don't want to work at Cognizant. I thought I did, but I don't.

And you wonder why I post anonymously..

Well, maybe it's because "clever" prospective employers and background checkers think they are entitled to make a judgement about whether they can buy sections of my life.

A recent report (can't find it now) suggested that even posting bad reviews of consumer products or services (however justified) might hinder your employment chances. I may need to work for an outfit that has this kind of stupid mentality at some point, so I post my reviews under an assumed name.

My personal opinions are just that. Work is what I do to support my family and get some cash to do the things I really like.

Linkedin - Hopeless

So I can get a lot of websites on my HTC smartphone. Most of them work fine in "native" mode, some work fine in whatever special mobile mode they offer - either a mobile site or an Android App.

Linkedin doesn't. Most of the useful functions are missing from the mobile site and the App. When I try to get around this by choosing the helpful "full site" link at the bottom of the mobile site, it loads the full site, but any time I click a link or icon for another page or part of the site, it loads that using the mobile site, complete with all the missing functionality.

No thanks to Linkedin, I've now found a way to "fool" it into thinking I am using an ordinary computer when I use the HTC now.

What was I doing? Well, linkedin, helpfully sends me jobs I might be interested in. I've even applied for a couple. Except the button marked "apply for this job" isn't present on the mobile site or app.

Linkedin appears to be trying to become a site for recruiting. It needs to be a lot better.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Be Your Brand

Okay - the popular zeitgiest will tell you it's harder to hide behind a mask on t'internet and you shouldn't try to be someone you aren't. Fair enough, but there's a new and particularly sanctimonious twist to this in which people are challenging the right of anyone to be forthright and are for some odd reason particularly incensed if the person is anonymous.

I can live my brand easily enough. I am sometimes nice, ocasionally nasty. Mostly decent - occasionally rotten and so on.

I read and hear platitudinous crap like "if you can't say anything nice..." and "hate is such an ugly word" all over the place. Now of course I realise that prejudice isn't great and bigotry never served to englighten much, however, things can go too far in the direction of the santimonious puritans of the new internet age.

In this light I was somewhat cheered by reading a passage in "how to be good" by Nick Hornby. It doesn't really work out of context, but it did make me smile "...a life without hatred is no life at all, children should be allowed to despise who they like. Now, there's a right worth fighting for."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

But what about the beta?

I learned pretty early on in life that I wasn't going to be a high-flyer. I wasn't chosen to play Jesus, Mary Joseph etc in the Nativity Play. I plugged away at academic subjects and did well but not brilliantly.

I was (and am) shockingly bad at football and was therefore ridiculed by the Sports Teachers and other kids and picked last for that and then other team games.

Being tall helped me get in the way when playing rugby and gave a small advantage in basket ball (although that was offset by my lack of hand/eye coordination).

Somewhere along the way someone taught me that pushing other people out of the way, jumping queues etc., was wrong. The effect of that is that I get disproportionately annoyed with that kind of stuff.

Everything seems to be geared around the apha population - so I say stand up (or at least sit down and look annoyed) if, like me, you're part of the beta also rans.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Robinson Way Limited

Dear Sirs, Your Letters of 24/3/2011 and 18/12/2008 Reference ********* Amazingly, after I wrote to you by post and e-mail in 2008 notifying you that this was not my debt, you have waited three years to send another threatening demand for a debt that has nothing to do with me. I had a look on your website - a lot of talk about being responsible and following codes of conduct - clearly the person responsible for sending this stuff to me hasn't read any of it. I warned you in my previous correspondence that if this nonsense continues I will charge for my time in dealing with it - since you have persisted I assume you will be happy to receive an invoice soon and to pay it. Please let me know immediately the procedure for making a formal complaint as mentioned on your website

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dear East Midlands Trains

I recently travelled from Lougborough to Leicester on a Saturday morning.

On the train was a gang of young men singing and chanting obscene songs and swearing very loudly.

The Train manager was understandly reluctant to intervene (when asked by another passenger) as were the rest of us.

I want to know if you are prepared to adopt and enforce a zero tolerance policy to this kind of thing or am I just expected to accept that it is normal for travelling by train and you will take no action?

Dear Egg

Your password reset line is hopeless - first I get a long recorded message telling me I can reset online if I have an egg card - which I know because it's on the website where I just came from.

Then a warning I can only use this number to reset my password. Then a recording asking me to state what my enquiry is - why? you just told me I can only do one thing! Then the stuff about resetting online if I have a card again - doesn't anybody think about this stuff?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


My experience with this company has been a disaster from the start. I became involved with them after someone ran into the back of my car. I took the car to the local dealer who services it to see if there was any damage as I couldn't see any. They reported that there was indeed some damage and recommended I use Easi Drive to deal with organising the repairs.

The idea (as explained on Easi Drive's website) is that they organise repairs and a loan car whilst the repairs are being done. They claim the costs from the person at fault (in this case that person was too busy running their business from the front of their Range Rover to deal with piffling trivia like not ramming the stationary car in front).

I should have smelt a rat when within a few minutes of agreeing to use them and giving the OK for the dealer to pass on my phone number, I was bombarded with phone messages. They are clearly desparate to sign people up for their "service".

Unfortunately, the delivery of that "service" evaporates once they are required to actually do anything.

The other thing that should have made me suspicious is the fact that Easi Drive cannot send or recieve e-mails. At all. Ever. This seems very odd - and I suspect the reason why they insist on trying to do almost everything by telephone at all times is to avoid leaving a written record of anything (except of their hire form of course)

Recent highlights of their "service" have been-

Supplying a loan car with a tax disc that expired 5 months ago.
Requiring me to sign a form for the loan car with the greatest amount of small print I have ever seen.
Incorrectly estimating the repairs so that the repairer had to do a revised estimate and is now waiting for parts they could have ordered.
Not giving me any updates on progress of repairs at any stage.
Sending me another copy of the same form, but with most of the information missing (duration of hire etc) with a demand that I sign and return it. (hmmm why would they need a blank version of a form I already signed ?).
Never replying to any complaints. Ever.

I strongly advise anyone offered this "service" by their dealer or anyone else to avoid it - and these reviews show I'm not alone.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Ollie Gozzard - The Commuter's Tale

Time for a long overdue big-up and shout-out (as we former DJs say) to my pal and frankly genius bloke Ollie Gozzard who has realised a long time ambition by having a book published soon.

As Ollie mentions on his own blog, it's the product of a huge amount of work, which is apparent in every tightly-crafted line. Hard work, whilst it may be rewarding in itself doesn't guarantee anything is necessarily any good, but I was truly stunned by the originality of the book.

I've long been in awe of Ollie's abilities with the English language. Sure, he's served his apprenticeship by writing hundreds of thousands of published and yet to be published words, but he's always had that rare combination of talent and originality and a refusal to give up. This is a guy who ran a struggling comedy club that gave a start to household names and yet received little recognition, and undeterred, decided to try his hand at running a regular poetry get-together.

In an age of celebrity trash books and misery memoirs, this is a brilliant and truly stunning piece of work that did what the greatest work always does - transported me away totally from the mundane and every day and put me back in touch with joy of language and story telling.

Gozzard plays with us and plays with language too - just for the joy of it and it really is a joy.

I'm off to place my order on Amazon right now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Visiting friends brought me back to reality. Mrs Urko was extolling the "virtues" of facebook. The couple we were visiting are well educated (a GP and a highly skilled engineer) but have zero interest in Facebook. Why would we want to tell anyone what we are doing? Why would we want to look what you are doing? It's a good question when you think about it.

A friend and business associate told me this morning that he was annoyed to find his wife had posted details of their (unexciting) family life at the weekend. When he arrived in work, the usual "how was your weekend?" was replaced by "we know x y and z happened to you at the weekend"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blogging and anonymity

I got told off by a friend for joining a facebook group called "I want to punch June Sarpong in the fucking face". He had a point; I would no more punch anyone in the face than er... well I just wouldn't - couldn't, however I also probably wouldn't have wanted to own up to being in the group in the unlikely event I ever met June Sarpong.

I have mixed feelings here - I bet (know) people have said some pretty awful stuff about me when I'm not there. I remember someone of my acquaintance saying "I don't care what you say about me as long as you say it to my face". I feel the reverse - if you are going to say something bad - I'd rather not hear about it - or maybe second best, I'd rather not know who you are.

There seems to be a growing concensus in the media that online anonymity is a bad thing - I don't agree. Anonymity allows one to say stuff one wouldn't dare to -for a variety of reasons - say if one's identity was known. Of course this leads to unfair and unjustified abuse. But it also allows me to say what I really feel without fear of upsetting employers, colleagues, friends etc. In this way, it is a realisation of free speech - something I hold very dear, and which fewer and fewer people give a damn about.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This Is England

I have a huge pile of films on DVD that I am trying to work my way through. Tonight I finally got to This Is England. It takes a film this good to remind you how bad the others are sometimes. I won't say this mirrored my own youth, but it did have some familiarity for me.

The writer and director Shane Meadows grew up and lived in my neck of the woods and much of the stuff in the film made me smile (and wince) in recognition.

This is a hard film to summarise - but it does have some fabulous dialogue - in particular it was a reminder to me that here in England, everyday life has a fabulous vocabulary. I hope that doesn't sound patronising - but having watched some good (and bad) US TV recently, it's noticeable that the popular trend there appears to be towards a minimal vocabulary.

It's a cheap shot, but I laughed out loud at the "Thatcher is a twat" graffiti in one scene.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Even More Consumer News

Orange and Nokia have managed to ruin something or other that used to work on my wee pal's N97. The phone is a bit over a year old and has, for all that time, had nokia's decentish push mail service and application.

recently she got this -

Sent: 27/08/2010 13:41:13

Subject: Over and out

Your 30 days of free email on your Nokia has come to an end.

If you find you miss it, all you need to do is get in touch with Orange and ask us to reactivate the service for you. Then you'll be able to enjoy unlimited* push email again for just a few pounds per month, or included in certain plans.

For more information

Getting email on your Nokia should be trouble-free, but if you do have a problem, let us know. Call Orange Customer Services on 150 from your Orange phone if you're a pay monthly customer, or 345 if you're a business customer.

* Subject to fair usage, UK use only

Long Story short - Orange say she signed up for a trial (she didn't) and must now pay if she wishes to continue. They promised to call back and haven't - hopeless.

More from our Consumer Desk

Hilton Honors (Sic) Credit Card

I once again tried to make a legitimate purchase online which was denied recently. The transaction was (or rather wasn't) for *****with John Lewis. I didn't receive a call from your fraud department until after John Lewis had called me and I'd paid with a different card. According to the lady in fraud there is nothing you can do to prevent this type of thing as your payment systems are so insecure. As a minimum I would expect a credit of the Hilton points value for this transaction - ideally I would like you to improve your extremely insecure systems as well so you don't keep denying my transactions

Update: I had a letter saying sorry (but it's not our fault) - yes you can have your points, but in "response" to your point about our systems (we can't bring ourselves to utter the word "insecure") here is a load of meaningless twaddle which insults your intelligence and cheapens the name of the person who signed it (although they probably don't exist anyway).

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Perfect Storm - Of Tossers

I don't revel in the pillorying of Gordon Brown. I don't like him, and he may (or may not) be a bully, (and it's unacceptable if he is) but are the people knocking him really any better?

The boss of a charity who is so upset by Peter Mandelson's pronouncements that she decides to let slip information that she hopes will undermine him.

I loathe Mandelson, he is the epitome of the cynical politician to me, and he reminds me very much of Thatcher who I also loathe - they are cut from the same cloth. The fact that he appears to be trying to spin Gordon out of an apparent mess shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. So it's not fair to break a confidence and implicate innocent people just to prove something that should be evident to anyone with half a brain.

Anyone taken in by Mandelson deserves to be done over - like people who stake their life savings on a credible sounding promise of gazillion percent interest.

None of the players in this little drama comes out of it looking at all good.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Watching Horizon On Drugs

I had no idea that the creation of new drugs was essentially an empirical process.

They showed a huge robot testing samples against known diseases.
Given the huge advances in computer aided-design in engineering applications, I am surprised - I know I probably shouldn't be, but I am. I am reminded of something I read about the development of the Boeing 777. Before the 777, designers had to create mock ups of (for example) the toilet areas and test their servicing with real people. They would make a full-size wooden model and then get engineers to try out the servicing tasks.
One of the development tasks turned over fully to computer modelling for the 777 was this very one. The 777 is old hat these days - a great aircraft, but technology has moved on. I'm therefore a bit surprised that drugs can't be developed in this way.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Someone said that the best camera is the one you have with you - so it was when I just thought this would make a good picture.

This wasn't my usual camera or my best one, but it was the one I had at the time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oh the Sweet Sweet Irony

I don’t have a lot of time for lawyers at the best of times, but this is the perfect apogee of all my dislikes in one. A lawyer who complains that stupid and erroneous implementation of rules in relation to personal data held on her has led to her being prevented from working on a scheme which ultimately guarantees that many of us will be treated just the same way every year. I would have thought that any lawyer worth £150k a year (and I am not having a go at her for her salary, by the way – as it happens, there was a year a few back when I earned nearly that), would make the connection, but apparently not.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Climate Change Protestors

Have spent what many of them describe as a great weekend trying to disrupt Ratcliffe Power Station. This reminds me (in a way) of when I visited RAF Molesworth when our glorious leader (one Margaret Thatcher) decided that our small island would be a great place for the US to base cruise missiles. This (as the US acknowledged at the time) was part of the US plan to fight a "theatre war" in Europe if it all kicked off. They could ensure that only us stinking pinkos got nuked and the free world continued as if nothing had happened. Mrs T paid precisely zero attention to what we thought, even though (some) polls showed large proportions (and even the occasional majority) of the people didn't want Ronnie Ray-Gun's missiles.

At the time, (and since) since I move in mainly cosy complacent "we're all friends here" Tory circles both in work and often out (and I don't often choose to rock the boat) I heard people saying that the CND folks should be jailed and hosed down - and if they like the Russians so much why not piss off and live there.....and other brilliantly informed arguments.

So now I see a band of similarly commited people wishing to send a message to the government. But I have a big problem. I have turned into a fat complacent old git of the type I used to hate, and I see a flaw in travelling halfway round the country and trying to shut down other people's power supplies in the name of reducing CO2 emmisions (I bet anyone can see it really).

I also, with the benefit of age, see where the sale of infrastructure like power generation leads when you flog it into the free market. You get the (in my humble opinion of course) Tesco and ASDA version of electricity supply - as in "what's the minimum we can get away with doing to look responsible whilst we screw as much cash as possible for ourselves and the shareholders?" I don't even blame them - it's their job, it's a legal requirement. I didn't ever vote for it and I stand by that - I don't subscribe to the view that Thatcher saved Britain.

However, I now have a (small) family. I try my best within limits of what I can afford and what comforts I think are reasonable not to do any more to destroy the planet than any other ordinary chap in my shoes would (hopefully even a bit less).

We try not to waste water, gas electrcity and so on, but I know we do to an extent. I am painfully aware that our lives are still unbelievably profligate in comparison with many (most?) in the world. I have always been in favour of renewable energy. I argued in favour of an application for wind turbines at our local parish council in the face of plenty of objectors. My problem with climate change protesors is that I'm not sure what they are offering me as a future.

I watched their video but I'm still not much the wiser.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Don't leave the Men In Charge

I have some sympathy with Harriet Harmon - mixing the senior jobs between men and women can surely only be a good thing.

There are two things that slightly worry me:

I'm not in favour of positive discrimination - that said we all need to make an effort to give everyone a fair crack at every opportunity and it's clear that women still aren't in some areas.

I'm not in favour of that sorry brand of female-supportive humour that relentlessly takes the piss out of men. If mother-in-law jokes and quips about women drivers were awful (and they pretty much were), then gags about how crap men are aren't any better - and nor does the "we had to put up with for years" excuse cut much ice with me.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

ID cards

So they aren't going to be compulsary - unless you want to do anything presumably. The real bit of evil control freakery was the database behind them, and that's going to stay.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Do you ever wonder?

What is going on? I was driving on a motorway earlier at a fairly
sedate pace when I noticed (in my mirrors) a car approaching from
behind at speed. As it drew closer and then passed I saw what turned
out to be a Police car following suicidally close behind it. I
expected the police to pull the car over, but they didn't - very odd.

Joe Jackson

A Cure For Gravity, the Joe Jackson book I mentioned before is one of
those I have mixed feelings about as I approach the end. On the one
hand I look forward to reading more; on the other hand I don't want to
finish it because I've enjoyed it so much. I have dug out a load of
old Joe Jackson recordings, and will be digging out many more. Often
I'm dissapointed when people who are famous for one talent try
another, but Joe is a really gifted writer in my none too humble

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Employee Screening

Over at Health Business is an article that caught my eye whilst I was looking for something else. This, for me represents all that is going wrong in the UK today.

The author selectively quotes research, but it is intermingled with unsubstantiated claims that justify his central thesis that outsourcing your snooping and prying into the backgrounds of anyone who was the temerity to work for you is an essential part of the business of any modern day employer.

I won't go through the whole thing, as I don't have time, but just a few examples;

The author quotes some research, but then goes on to say "80 per cent of UK jobseekers now search online, but this growth is mirrored by a huge rise in CV fraud" He doesn't say what "huge" is in this context, or what his definition of fraud is - I seem to recall a fairly high percentage of people owning up to a little artistic licence and similar on their CVs but there's nothing here to distinguish people trying to cover up a gap year or a period of unemployment they'd prefer to forget from those who are keeping quiet about the time they served for embezzlement. Just an alarming and entirely unjustified claim about CV fraud - whatever that is.

He goes on:
"Historically, it’s true that employers have preferred to invest in IT, data and premises security whilst overlooking or neglecting what’s possibly the greatest risk of them all – the internal risk of employing wrong or ‘rogue’ staff. To be fair, that’s probably because the technology to outsource independent staff screening procedures has not been widely available until recently. " Or maybe to be fair, it's because, as he says it is only possibly the greatest risk of all. As in not actually.

There's more - apparently, you can't even trust people you know who you have worked with for years:
"Get your outsourced screener to verify signatures and addresses of directors and cross-reference against dates of birth. Check against photos on annual reports or social network sites. It’s amazing how many don’t tie up!"

My Facebook picture is of two old cars - and I never, ever sign up for social networking sites using my own name or date of birth - so how's that going to look when I'm screened?

"Think for a moment about the corporate manslaughter risks of not checking the validity of something so basic as a driving licence – if an employee with a fake or invalid licence endangers a customer or fellow employee and the employer hasn’t even bothered to undertake simple verification screening with the DVLA, then company insurance will be invalid and any claim will rest with the negligent directors. "

I used to work in the insurance industry - and I can't recall a single case of this type. Nor can I recall a prosecution for corporate manslaughter on the grounds an employer didn't demand to see the driving licence of every employee and then pay someone to check with the government agency renowned for its faultless accuracy that it was valid. I can't recall that because it hasn't happened - and it isn't likely to.

My point is that whilst there are bad people out there, the problem may be overstated (certainly no hard evidence is put forward in the article - it's all about the terror that comes from not snooping into everything and everyone). People and organisations like this are (in league with civil servants) trying to create work for themselves on what, in my opinion, is a largely false premise. If most people weren't basically honest, society couldn't function - shame on those who want to suspect everyone on the basis of a few bad eggs.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson is a genius. I thought so before, but he's reinforced my view as I'm reading his excellent book "A Cure For Gravity". It's a joy to read about his love for music, and I feel kinship in (some of) his brilliantly described experiences as a bright, sensitive, tall, skinny kid who was hopeless at sport being victimised by other kids and teachers alike and never really knowing why.

Like Joe, I tried to learn the violin at school and was roundly abused for it and accused of being "posh" a "puff" etc. Unlike Joe, I never did master the violin. Niether have I trimuphed in the same way as him by writing such a brilliant account of the experience, but I've always enjoyed his music, and now I'm enjoying his writing too. He's inspiring me to try and do better at stuff too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Downloaders won't be disconnected

According to various reports today, the government has decided that there's no real way to make a law to enable/force ISPs to disconnect people who use file sharing to obtain music and video illegally.
I don't use file sharing at all.
Apparently the government has some other great ideas instead like adding a levy for all users.....
OK, once again living in this country is like being in a giant primary school.  The government and the record industry can't be bothered to go after the real offenders, so we'll all have to pay.
If they do this, I will be actively investigating file sharing - after all, if they're going to charge, I may as well get my money's worth.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Use Of Language

My work is loosely based around IT, and I'm old enough to have had some experience of program code.  I am probably the last bloke you'd want to write your code for anything, but I have an idea how some of it works.  One of the things that more geeky (technically able) programmers will sometimes observe is that there can be many ways to achieve a desired result. 
Whilst all of them may do what is needed, some will be more elegant and attractive than others.  Some may make it easier to modify the code in the future, some may get things done faster, some more efficiently.  To the person who has an eye for this knd of detail, the "raw" code behind a piece of software or even a website may be a thing of beauty or an ugly train crash, even though a casual observer or even user of the software may never even see what's below the surface.
So it is with English.  There are so many ways to say things, and some of the most ugly cliches do convey a meaning.  I was smirking because the bloke next to me at the coffee stall his lunchtime was one of the foremost proponents of the business cliche.  He was explaing to a colleague that there was an "incredible scenario" at one of their "stores" because one of the managers had punched a colleague.  He had managed to get reinstated, but various staff members were refusing to work with him.  Meanwhile, another manager was "in limbo" managing two "stores" and was a bit "like a rabbit in the headlights".  
This chap was making his point, but in a way I found inelegant, however since he plainly has no interest in the words he uses,   I couldn't reasonably expect him to say it in any different way, nor should I.  I have to accept that not everyone cares what words they use, any more than they care whether the bloke who wrote their website indented his code.

Monday, January 12, 2009

John Peel

Through the grey of an Eastern morning, sat on a train at Colchester Station I spied a railway loco with the name plate "John Peel".  I wondered if it was named after John Peel the DJ, or the earlier figure from history.....
I suppose I could do a Google search or something, but I haven't got around to it.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Robinson Way & Co. Ltd

I received a letter from this company regarding a "debt".  This "debt" has nothing to do with me - they cannot have any grounds for suggesting otherwise.  The letter demands that I call their 0870 number to agree a payment plan.
I see no reason to swell their coffers or waste my time by phoning - and in any case my experience of phoning British Gas (who are the originators of the non-existing debt) was that when they agreed to do (or not do) something and then didn't, they also denied any knowledge of the phone call.  I don't owe anyone anything anyway.
The letter had an email address - so I used it.  Then I reminded them (twice) that they hadn't replied.  In the end I got the following response:
"With reference to your recent email, please note any responses will be actioned accordingly by post and not by email.
Robinson Way & Co. Ltd." 
What a stupid attitude - we'll supply you an e-mail address, but don't bother trying to use it. 

Thursday, December 04, 2008

European Court Of Human Rights

Together with the Human Rights Act, this place tends to get a bad press.  I see news today, however, that they have upheld what I've always regarded as our basic right to be considered innocent until (and unless) proven otherwise.
Two men who had had been detained by the Police, but later faced no action had asked the Police to delete their fingerprint and DNA records.  The Police refused, and our own dear House Of Lawyers also thought this was fine.
Thankfully, the ECR still has some idea of what freedom and privacy means.
Jaqui Smith, our poor excuse for a Home Secretary, is disappointed.  How dare she be disappointed that innocent men are entitled to be treated as innocent?
Clear battle lines are being drawn here I think, and not just in politics.  There's one camp which I'm in who think the authorities are our servants and should leave us alone unless they have proper proof we've been up to no good.  Then there's the Jaqui Smith camp who think that it's OK to gather as much data as possible on everyone and trawl through it regularly to see if there are any dodgy looking results, this saves the tiem and expense of doing proper investigations. 
Many people argue that we'd all be better off if everyone's DNA and fingerprints were on record, and our own dear government makes little secret of their desire to do this.  What they fail to realise (or don't care about) is the potential for abuse and error that this would create.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tax cuts and rises

The cut in VAT and the increases planned for the future are, it seems to me, just pure politics.  They are desigend to make it look as if something's being done, even if it isn't.  The really cynical and political part is that if the gamble doesn't work, the people who cooked it up just get booted out of power and have to manage on a generous pension paid for by the rest of us.  If it "works" they get more time holding the levers of power and gambling with our cash and our futures.  Nice work if you can get it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Misery Memoirs

It seems that the Mum of the "mother" of misery memoirs (at least here in the UK) denies it all and says she didn't do most (or possibly any) of the wicked things alleged in the book.
This case continues, but it raises some interesting questions - if Mum wins and wins big damages, she'll receive money from sales of a book about stuff that she says didn't happen.  If the court rules that most or all of the allegations in the book were indeed ficticious, will purchasers ask for their money back because they only bought it on the basis that it was true?
Of course, it may be that it's all true - only the author and her Mum really know for sure.  If it is, but the Court decides it wasn't that will be extremely unfortunate.  I wonder if this case may open (to coin a cliche) the floodgates for the alleged perpetrators named in misery memoirs to sue the authors, claiming it's all fiction?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hands Off My Organs

I have carried a donor card for mopre than 25 years, because I believe in it.  This was against the wishes of my Mother, who when I lived at home, used to destroy my card.  
If we move to presumed consent I will make it abundantly clear to everyone I know that I no longer wish to donate any organs at all after my death.  Gordon Brown thinks he knows better and that my organs should become property of the State; he can go and stick his presumed consent.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bose Headphones

I have a particularly boring repetitive task to do so I am listening to music on my iPod, though the Bose ie-ear phones I bought a while ago.  I have just heard a bit of piano in "Do anything you wanna do" by Eddie and the Hot Rods that I'd never noticed before.  In fact I had to go back and listen several times just to make sure - it's definitely there, but it is so faint it sounds like someone in an adjacent studio mucking about on a piano (as indeed it may well be).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Border Patrol Uk (or something)

I watched a documentary on the UK Border Gang (sorry can't remember what their proper title is and it'll have changed by the time I find out).  They seemed bright, motivated individuals for the most part, but as usual they appear hamstrung by daft rules.  
When they detain an individual here illegally, if they can't find a passport or similar document, they can't deport them.  Instead they give them a piece of paper with a stern instruction to report regularly.  Then they are let go and (mostly it seems) never heard from again. 
What a ridiculous waste of time and (our) money. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Job Ad Translation

Do people fall for the nonsense recruiters put in job ads?
This one caught my eye;
This is a very important programme for the organisation therefore close co-operation with key business stakeholders will be necessary to ensure full buy in to the new systems. You'll need to be an effective communicator with a charismatic ability to gain buy in and be able to deliver on time and to budget.
I can't help feeling that the reality here is:
The client has a lot of political issues and wants to force in a new system.  Management is too weak to do this so you'll be expected to do it.  At the same time, if "stakeholders" rebel against the new system, it'll be your fault.
What a dream assignment.
Does anyone working as a Payroll Project Manager in IT really think they have charismatic ability?
(I'm not a Payroll Project Manager but I wouldn't describe myself in that way)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ad Hearing

What are they learning them in the skools theeese dace?
This is from a job Advert-
"This includes Data Preparation; Ad hearing to templates for each transaction ......."

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Quiet Evening out

The place I'm working currently is not famed for its choice of cosmopolitan eateries. In fact it's probably more famous for stabbings and muggings. Last night I decided I was tiring of Marks And Spencer picnics in my room, I'd eaten everything I liked the look of on the Hotel's bar menu several times (I've been stying there for the last 8 months) and I fancied an Italian Meal.
I'd spotted what I thought was a reasonable looking place a while back. I'm not sure if it's a chain or not. It seemed busyish without being too packed. I should have realised straight away that something was wrong when I walked in and a passing waitress averted her eyes and scuttled off as she saw me. No matter, I asked the guy behind the bar for a table for one - he politely showed me to a table. Where I sat and watched the comings and goings of the staff a while. No menu, no drinks offered, nothing. So I decided I'd go elsewhere. After all, I can sit in the bus station or the shopping centre and be ignored, and that's free.
I decided to go down the road to the Italian place where I've eaten before (and had good service). I'd only decided to try the other one from a mixture of curiosity and laziness. On the way, however, I decided to try an Indian Restaurant I hadn't eaten in before.
I was greeted warmly (good start) and invited to sit anywhere. I hadn't noticed before but the place was empty. So I picked a table for two about half way in. When I sat down I noticed the next table had two half finished pints of beer and some unfinished food on it.
My food was speedy and pretty reasonable. After a little while the next table was re-occupied by two very drunk women. Their speech was just about intelligible, although every other word seemed to be "fack" or "cant".
They recounted the evening's events over and over again to the extent that I was tempted to look at my watch in case we'd slipped into some sort of time vortex in a groundhog day stylee. They were, it seems, a lesbian couple, but one had been on the end of unwelcome attention from another woman.
"I thought you were going to knock her out" (I've omitted the facks) "I would've - and would you blame me?" - and so on. They were drunk enough to think that belching loudly and then saying sorry was hilarious (actually it was less offensive than the smell of them or their language). I ate up, paid up and left, wondering what the remainder of the evening had in store for the two of them and the proprietor of the restaurant.
Ho Hum another groovy evening in our beloved capital.
Tonight is late night opening in the shopping centre so I may try my luck there - or possibly I'll take the train out of this dump. I want reasonably healthy food at a sensible price, good (fast) service and quietish place to eat - why is that such a tall order in London?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I have never tried any drugs other than alcohol (and maybe caffeine).  I feel a bit left out, actually.  Partly because I have never smoked (never even tried a ciggy), I never tried dope either (I suppose I could've tried it in a cake).  It seems most of the politicians have had a go on it now, but still they think it should be illegal.
I am, and have been for some time, in favour of legalising drugs - all of 'em too, not just dope.  It seems utterly hypocritcal to me that alcohol is legal and dope isn't.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Kate Rusby

Is a national treasure. I first came across her in a flim called Heartlands. Since then I've listened to quite a lot of her stuff. There is something about her voice that just rips up something inside me (in a nice way).

And she apparently likes flying about as much as me.

Monday, August 04, 2008


To the kind person who handed over the phone I'd stupidly left on the train, whoever you are.

iPod touch Firmware 2.0 and other Apple stories

The world of Apple is supposed to one of benign user-friendliness isn't it?

Mrs Urko has an Ipod touch. She downloaded the latest version of iTunes. This in turn allowed her to download applications - iPint took her fancy. Unfortunately, she could find no way to get iPint from iTunes on to her iPod.

At first, neither could I, but after a bit of Googling it appeared that in order to install applications on her iPod, she needed an upgrade to the 2.0 Firmware, for which Apple wanted £5.99. Apple could have made this a bit clearer, but they obvoiously assume everyone knows their porducts.

She decided to make the purchase through iTunes but we weren't out of the woods yet. Her work lappy uses a VPN connection and wherever iTunes gets it's firmware updates from is blocked by her employers. This manifests itself as the download appearing to start then disappearing. Something that iTunes warns may take 30 minutes took (apparently) 3 seconds. No error message but no firmware update either. Can't really blame Apple for this.

Not being enough of a technical whizz to get around the block (I reckon it should be possible) I opted to use my laptop instead. The thirty minutes turned out to not far off. Connected up the iPod and asked it nicely to sync the firmware at which point it said that it couldn't due to an "unknown error" it then appeared to hang. After waiting a while and resetting the iPod, iTunes reported that a poorly iPod had been connected and a restore would have to be done - OK.

After quite a time, it claimed to have restored factory settings. In fact what it had done was wipe all the music and photos, and in spite of all the confusing messages, had installed the firware upgrade. So in only a few hours and for six quid, she was able to pull a virtual pint on an iPod.

I want to like Apple stuff, but it ain't easy. And my Mum's iBook has decided to fry itself now it's just out of warranty, having had to be retured under warranty once already.