Blogathon 15b/14 – new toy

I have pushed the boat not so much as ‘out’, as ‘a little way from the jetty and then pulled it back in again’.

I have bought a hand-held video camera.

It covers the usual formats (780p, and 1080p). It’s got internal memory as well as a simcard slot.

It’s got the usual tripod-mounting.

And HDMI connector, as well as USB.

And it cost me the thousands of, er, pennies.


I got it off of ebay.

I’m looking forward to learning to use it.

The true cost of gas

There has been, in the last week, a great deal of words said – and written – about the price rise that British Gas has announced.

Most of the words have been against the announced increase. British Gas is making profit at a time many of their most vulnerable customers are struggling to pay their bills. That kind of thing.

But the fact is that most of the speakers of most of the words have got it wrong.

It is the duty of British Gas – a publicly traded company – to make as much profit as possible.

It is not the duty of British Gas to have a social conscience.

British Gas only has one function and, it may surprise some people to learn, that function is to make as much money as possible for its shareholders.

British Gas could diversify into other high profit areas. Selling arms, for example, as do other publicly traded companies.

Making money is the only aim of British Gas.

The wider questions which everyone who has written a Tweet, a blog, Comment Is Free about, has missed, are seemingly more obvious, yet nobody has aired them.

So I will.

Should the Thatcher Government have taken out of public ownership a not-for-profit organisation?

Was selling a not-for-profit organisation, which was owned by the public, and wholly able to be guided by the Government’s social agenda, a massive lapse in thinking?

Or was turning British Gas in to a profit-orientated corporate entity a good thing?



Blogathon 19/13 HiTech?


I’m working from a remote location today.

I have two laptops, my Nexus 10, and my Samsung S3 phone.

Unfortunately, I have to connect to the Internet, now and then, to download/upload/edit various files.

I say unfortunately, because the WiFi connection is as strong as a spiders fart.

But that’s OK, because I can access H+ (or 3G at the very worst) via my Samsung S3, set the phone as a tethered WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth from my tablet (or either of the laptops), and Robert’s your Mother’s brother…

Instant portable WiFi connection to the Internet!

Except Vodafone have other plans…


Rubbish, obv.

2012 done: 2013 ‘to do’ list being written

2012 has been an interesting year.

In a blog post on 31st December 2011, I summed 2011 up as ‘a bit shit’.

My aspiration for 2012, at that time, was for it to be ‘hopefully less shit’.

And it has been. Less shit. But, considering what happened in 2011, well, you know.

So while some people are rolling up the carpet on 2012, I’ve been starfished on my couch thinking about just some of the things that happened.

Sparing details and names, here’s just a few of them, in no particular order; in 2012 I…

  • was finally able to bring Vin back in to work after his two-year back injury-related layoff. The little ginger boy seems to be enjoying the gentle exercise plan that he’s working to
  • found a young girl to help keep him ticking over
  • developed a taste for Prosecco
  • sold my horsebox
  • had an odd virtual relationship
  • went to the stunningly organised Event Riders Association Ball (had a ball)
  • rebuilt the studio, changed the layout, recabled and upgraded the acoustics
  • went to Austin, Tx, to the South by South West music festival
  • went to Rome a couple of times
  • went to Paris a couple of times
  • bought the Bandit and reaquainted myself with motorcycling in a big way
  • passed my motorcycle racing certificate
  • hooked up with the Oxford Motorbike Group
  • met some good muso people and came to call them friends
  • met some good non-muso people and came to call them friends too
  • went to gigs and music festivals in the UK and overseas
  • had many social events with friends
  • had two car crashes (got hit by an uninsured driver and then there was the brick incident)

But apart from these things (and apart from the many other things that happened in 2012 that didn’t make it on to this list, for various reasons!), I also spent part of 2012 dealing with the fall-out from my marriage.

The court has been terrible to deal with, but the end is finally in sight. How ironic that it is the court that has been so difficult to deal with, and not my soon-to-be-ex-wife (who I get on well with). The entire court service needs to be revamped. It is a gleaming beacon of total failure.

However that’s 2012; generally speaking it was less shit than the previous year.

But, I need to say, it has been less shit through the company and support of friends – too many friends to mention – who have been aces.

I’m now looking forward to 2013, and what it could bring.

I am convinced that 2013 will be a stunning year.

I have such hopes – and such plans – for 2013. Plans which, a year ago, would have been impossible to believe.

A move of house is inevitable.

A move to a different part of the country is equally so.

And these will mean a new home for Vin. And a new job in a new part of the country, for me.

A year of change, for me, 2013.

What about you? Have any plans? Any goals for the new year?

Whatever it brings for you, whoever and wherever you are, I hope that 2013 is a positive year.

I hope you get many of your ‘to do’ items done.

I hope you have an excellent time.

Android issue? (3)

This might be a little premature but…

Yesterday morning I activated and fitted the new SIM card to my Nexus One (and, in passing, let me tell you that it looked very different to the old one!).

It took about 10 minutes for the registration to occur.

Since then I’ve had a completely hassle-free phone.

Absolutely no issues to report.

Not one.

I’m using all of the applications – and they’re all glitch-free too.

And the phone’s much quicker than it used to be.

Go figure!

Insert something witty here

Hello! How are you? How are things? What’s new?

I’ve been mental.

But you knew that already.

On Sunday I had a fun fun fun day, helping judge dressage at the Ascott-under-Wychwood, British Eventing One Day Event.

I have just checked the results website, I’m very pleased to see that the pony that I wanted to bring home (there’s always at least one of those) won her section, leading from the front all the way.

I’m thrilled to bits with this result.

The rider was a tidy youngster with a promising style, and the pony was a star.

On Saturday we went to see HP7b2d (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two – non-3D).

We went to the 22.30 showing, to avoid children.

The bottom line for me is simple.

No matter what certification the BBFC has awarded the film, it is *not* a children’s film.


I spent a huge chunk of Friday in the Salisbury area, then came home to join Soph in the studio, where we sat in front of a couple of microphones, listened to four Top Tracks and talked what some might consider to be amusing rubbish.

And by ‘some’ I mean Soph and me, obv.

On Thursday, after a day of work stuff, I went to band practice.

This month’s pieces were Bob Dylan’s ‘Knockin on Heaven’s Door’ to warm up, Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’ for the main course and Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’ for the finger-shredding dessert.

There’s a video clip and some stills knocking around somewhere. I’ll find them if you want.

On Wednesday evening I was a singleton because Soph was out. I stayed home and annoyed the hell out of Twitter. And finished writing Part One (of three) of a new short story project. And practised guitar.

Tuesday evening I had my weekly guitar lesson. Then came home and continued trying to learn how to drive Sony Vegas Pro.

I can’t remember what happened on Monday, it’s lost in a haze of not enough sleep and too much being awake. But it’s safe to assume it involved trying to acquire more Vegas Pro skilz.

The Vegas Pro thing isn’t going too well.

I’m finding it simple to learn the ‘new’ features and facilities. But I’m finding it difficult to do the ‘old’ ‘routine’ functions that I can do in the old, free editing package.

For example, earlier today I recorded a very short, witty and (I think) amusing little film.

After making the film I fired up the nasty little free video editing package, added a title, two sets of credits, trimmed and edited the clip and added a soundtrack.

Five minutes from start to finish.

In the free software.

Then I fired up Vegas Pro and tried to do the same thing.

Half an hour later I’m still trying to figure out how to make the software do what I have already done – and done in a handful of minutes – with the free software.


I’m sure I’ll get the hang of Vegas Pro sooner or later.

And the short video?

Here it is:

Meanwhile, a stupid British person speaks

The terrible tragedy of the murder of Bristol resident Jo Yeates seems to be on the verge of being turned in to something far more chilling.

The Labour MP for Bristol East, Ms Kerry McCarthy, has voiced her support for the compulsory DNA testing of all men in the city of Bristol.

Kerry McCarthy, MP


Ms McCarthy – who is clearly deranged – has, according to the BBC News website, made the following utterances:

Ms McCarthy said she believed the majority of people would be sympathetic to requests for (the taken of compulsory) DNA samples.

She added: ‘But rather than taking DNA just from men in the Clifton area, where the population is somewhat transient, the operation should be widened to include the whole of the city.

‘Quite how the police would organise this I don’t know,’ she added.


These seems like an opportune moment to remind everybody of a few pertinent details, which the mentally under-powered Kerry McCarthy seems to have forgotten:

  1. there were absolutely no signs of a sexual attack on Jo Yeates’ body
  2. women can and do kill people too
  3. to condemn 50% of the population of Bristol as criminal suspects, and on the basis of no evidence at all, just because of their gender is sexist
  4. our wonderful police have a long and successful track record of breaching the rights of the public by not destroying DNA evidence, even when so ordered
  5. ps. what about people who live outside the city of Bristol, but who might visit it every day to work?
  6. pps. or those who visit the city once a week
  7. ppps. or those who visit the city once a fortnight (etc, ad nauseam)

There seems to be two things here.

On the one hand we have a politician who seems to be so desperate to get on to the voters’ radar, that she has become rentagob.

On the other hand we have a politician who has no knowledge of the DNA process, which extends to the areas of compiling data, recording data, analysing data, reporting on data and, needless to say, data retention and data destruction policies (and the execution thereof).

And, quite evidently, no knowledge of the Human Rights Act.

Well done Kerry McCarthy, as an example of the kind of person we should not be voting in to parliament, you excel.

Selling Out

I know a likeable, personable, articulate, young (23yo) guy. He is an ideas factory. Concepts come to him as easily as girls didn’t come to me when I was young, free and single.

I admire his creativity and the energy and enthusiasm with which he propels his ideas along.

I also love that he brings his ideas to me. Everything that’s popped in to his head has been flashed across my radar for approval, steering and advice. I kind of love him a little bit for this. But only in a good, wholesome way. He has no need to bring me his concepts, he just does.

I always try to be straight with my opinion. I might temper my language, shape how I’m going to say something, but the message, whatever my opinion on the concept, remains clear. I can be extremely positive, guardedly positive, cautious – it doesn’t matter.

Whatever my position on an idea, I always try to add my thinking to the mix; try to introduce some of the experience and knowledge (practical or academic) that I have gained as I’ve trundled through life. Two heads, etc.

His latest idea for an unusually functional piece of internet-based activity has a lot of merit. I can see that some way down the line there are big things to be straightened out, but the concept looks sound.

‘Can I send you my marketing document,’ he asked earlier this week.  ‘I’m running out of words and you can only do copy and paste so many times.’ Naturally I said ‘yes’.

What arrived was a Word document, 5 pages, 500 words.

‘Who is the audience?’ was my first question.
‘Marketing people.’
‘OK, but who?’
‘B&Q, Virgin Media, BT, Tesco, PC World.’
‘And how complete do you reckon this document is?’
‘About a third of the way.’
‘And just to be clear, the target is the chief marketing officer/manager in each of these corporations?’

How do you do it? How do you say that the chances of anyone in that position in those corporation making it halfway down the first page of a 15-page document is nil?

How do you say ‘I’ve read what you’ve written and after five pages you haven’t spelt out what the concept is. Or shaped, for the reader, how it is going to work?’

And how do you do these things without smothering his enthusiasm?

This is an illustration of the gaps in his knowledge. That you can just ‘ring a blue-chip, get the name of the top honcho (honchoess) in Marketing, email through a 15-page brochure then sit back and wait for him (her) to beat a path to your door,’ because a) it exposes a depth of knowledge best categorised as ‘slim to none’ and b) is not going to work.

Unless I’ve missed my boat, the top honcho (honchoess) in Marketing in blue-chips are likely to be working flat-out; definitely five days-a-week, possibly six.

And his/her email device is likely to be the corporate Crackberry or iPhone  – most probably accessed while in BAU or Dev projects, to distract from the tedium of something that actually isn’t his/her BAU.

What I did was roughed out a quick plan:

  • Find out who the head honcho (honchoess) is
  • Write a script that is edited down to the minimum amount of words but gets YOUR NAME and the main message in
  • Call him/her until you make contact
  • Follow up the contact with an ultra-brief email to confirm what you’ve talked about
  • Send a slimmed-down document:  size: 1 page A4 folded (is that A5? I get confused) which does a brief intro to the concept, lays functionality out in bullet points and gives the highlights on costs/penetration/predictions
  • Follow that up three/four days later with another phone call, arrange to go and see him/her and do a high-level presentation in person

That was my initial plan.

Unfortunately, this time, what I had hoped to be constructive criticism seems to have been taken the wrong way.

I was only trying to help!

Personally I blame The Apprentice, because it leads people to think the real world works in that way, and it doesn’t.

Autumn cleaning

Blogs, GoogleReader, Bloglinks, Twitter, Facebook, social media and iPod music…

When I woke up this morning I felt a need to declutter, wanted to clear-out and clean, had to reorganise.

Are you ever subject to these impulses? Are they as rare to you as they are to me?

I sat down at the laptop and got on with it. First up was my browser. have given Bloglines a temporary reprieve until the end of the year, but whether it goes now or in a few months time doesn’t really matter. I’ve made the switch to Google Reader.
deletes Bloglines link from browser toolbar

I moved a lot of stuff over to Google Reader from Bloglines without checking the need for it, time was limited that day. There are currently 644 unread items in my Reader account. It’s time for a hard look at what I’m subscribed to.
begins examining all GoogleReader subscriptions and deleting some

I realised I haven’t updated the links on this blog for *ages*, so I had a quick pass down the list. The first two links I clicked on have either gone away or stopped producing content. However, one of the links goes back to the late and much-missed Ali’s blog. And I don’t want to remove that because I still love her.
begins scrutinising all blogroll links – with the exception of Ali’s – for accuracy and relevance

And then there’s Twitter. Ah, lovely Twitter. It’s social media, right? I do follow a lot of people because I like reading witty, articulate contributions and I enjoy interacting with the people who make these witty, articulate contributions. On the other hand, I don’t see the point of following slebs who are never going to follow me back because, frankly, they’re not interested in the *social* aspect of social media.

And in the ‘every day, common user’ end of the technology pool, I’ve seen some people get their knickers in a right knot over some imaginary Twitter etiquette along the lines of ‘Oh they’re following me so I should follow them but I’m not sure I really want to and I wouldn’t want to offend them and oh I don’t know what to do so maybe I’ll leave it unchanged but…’.

I have no such sensitivities. It’s like blogging. If your content loses the qualitative edge you first had and you’ve run out of creative steam to the point where all you can tweet about, for months on fucking end, is boyfriend and chocolate and boyfriend and cake and boyfriend and whining and boyfriend and homework and boyfriend and… Guess what? There’s an inevitable action coming your way.
looks long and hard at Twitter interactions