Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Article 50 Day - March 29th, 2017

Today, March 29th, 2017 is the day that many have been either looking forward to or dreading. 

The day when Theresa May triggers Article 50 to start the UK's departure from the European Union. I'm very sure it will be remembered as a landmark day, however the process ends. I'm just going to mark it by posting a note I hastily wrote on my Notes app on my phone in February 2016, some 6 months before the referendum. My views have not changed one iota since then: 

"The only way the people will get the information is from politicians or news media who will spin it to suit their aims. Being brutally honest, the average 'joe' such as you and I really don't know and I don't believe should be trusted with such a decision. It's a huge one and I believe an abdication of responsibility to let us decide. If in years to come, whatever decision is made is proved to be wrong, it will be our fault for voting the wrong way. We elect these politicians who are paid handsomely to run the country and it should be they and their expert advisors who decide. I understand why everyone feels they should be involved and I will of course vote with my head and heart. But I still feel this is an abdication of responsibility on the part of governments." 

I'll say no more for now and hope that whatever transpires in the next 2 critical years does not harm the country we all know and love.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

I said I'd be back

It's February 2017.

It's been a long time since I posted, but I'm going to resurrect this blog as I've got too much to say to put it just into Facebook posts.

Not right now, but watch this space, we are alive and kicking.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Summer is here at last

So Summer 2011 is here - characterized by the start of the Test Cricket series and of course the weather.

Nothing but sun, wind and rain, and oh yes more wind this morning in Surrey making more work for the fencing repair industry.

We're going to have to bite the bullet and get most of our fencing replaced, it's long overdue but almost seems futile given the fact that we seem to get strong winds several times a year and the subsequent slow destruction of the fence.  You'd have thought that in this day and age you could have fencing that can stand up far more to the elements.  The design seems to have remained identical for more than half a century, certainly is no different to when I was knee high to a knee.

And of course if the wind and rain abate for long enough, we may get some play in the cricket.  No problem though if it doesn't go, we can always watch 'Countdown' or highlights of previous matches... errrr..... no, satellite dishes don't like wind and rain and you get the 'No Satellite Signal is being received' message, till the rain stops.f

So what to do now, maybe update my blog..

Nah, what would I have to say?

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Destruction of Local Radio - The Final Phase

So Global Radio have announced that the remaining legacy stations in their group, as well as the 'Galaxy' network are to become 'Capital'   This will leave the company with 2 quasi-national networks (Heart and Capital) and is maybe the final nail in the coffin for local commercial radio.

It is, of course, just a back door way of getting national commercial music radio in the UK.  After the commercials were originally denied a 'pop' music station back in the days when the licences for Classic and (eventually) Virgin were offered, the commercial sector has been trying every method under the sun to get national stations to 'compete' with the BBC.  This is just the latest attempt.  Will it succeed?  Well, I really don't know, despite the vocal opposition to the 'Heart'ification by Global in the last year, nothing has happened, and it doesn't appear that stations have been deserted by listeners in their droves.  So I guess that's why Global now feels able to proceed.

But a few random points:

"Capital" was (and still is) a fantastic brand name for a music station covering the capital of this country (ie London). It did what it said in the brand.  Capital (Oldham) doesn't have the same appeal and just sounds plain stupid.

"Heart" again was a superb brand for the Heart of the UK (The Midlands) and the Heart of London - again extending it to 'Heart Sussex' sounds plain daft.

I doubt whether quality and diversity wise the new networks will be able to compete with the BBC.  They insist on filling the schedules with 'personalities' who know little about radio and are really just names.  If you look at Radio 1 and 2, Chris Moyles, Ken Bruce, Chris Evans, Jeremy Vine etc are all radio people.  They know all about the medium and how to exploit it.  On the Heart/Capital side you have the likes of Jason Donovan (actor/singer), Emma Bunton (singer) etc.. all great in their field, but not radio presenters.  

So all the people in the local areas formerly served by the legacy stations will be disenfranchised and effectively have nothing local, looking at local issues, making people feel special because they live in 'Sutton' or 'Barnoldswick' and get their names and towns mentioned regularly.  And of course local advertising will become more expensive and out of reach and will advertisers want to spend the rapidly dwindling money to use a station that rarely acknowledges its service area on air?  We'll see.

All this should mean that the small number of true independents left in 'ILR' should be able to CAPITALise (sorry!) on this, and the third sector, Community radio, start to fill the void.  From all the negativity, maybe something better will emerge.  

Sunday, 5 September 2010

On holiday and incommunicado


Just as everyone has gone back to school and work, we decided to take a week's holiday away from it all.  To be fair the other half had planned it some weeks ago and we've been really looking forward to it.

We are in North Norfolk, and there's been plenty of sun, sea and sand which has made the first day or so of our holiday just perfect.  It's just nice not having to do anything but what you want, and this is even better because we haven't had a real holiday for more years than I can remember.

What's also good, in a strange kind of way, is that there's very poor mobile network coverage and hence using the internet requires effort which means that we're not online all the time attending to 'urgent' requests from colleagues.  It means that urgent requests really need to be urgent to get through at all, and they can safely be ignored if they're not urgent enough…  

It's actually quite shocking that my preferred network (O2) for my main phone and Three for mobile internet have absolutely *no* coverage where I'm staying.  The only networks with coverage are Vodafone and Orange.  This forced me to get a cheap Pay and Go Vodafone SIM just to stay in touch with the world, and use the other half's Vodafone 3G dongle (which actually only connects at GPRS speed as there's no 3G at all around here) for internet,

When it works, it works ok, and the sobering thought is that not that many years ago, we were all using speeds much slower than GPRS from home on our fixed phone lines and were quite happy with that.  I'm speaking of 56k dialup modems, of course and it's staggering how we managed in those days - and it's not that many years ago.

Well, that's all I'm going to risk writing now, must get back to holidaying and enjoying the local beers (Wherry is quite a nice pint).

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

I am not an iSheep, I'm a free man

I've been meaning to write some stuff about Apple products, why I like them and the two different types of Apple Mac users. So here we go, I hope it'll shed some light on the subject and why I don't consider myself (and many others who started using Macs or iPhones in the last few years) as iSheep.

I'll start with my own perspective on the subject. For many years I worked in IT in a University Computer Centre and had to deal with users of many systems, including DOS, Windows, Unix and Apple Mac. For most of my career, I managed Unix systems, and used DOS and Windows machines on my desktop quite happily. I saw Mac users as a little weird, cliquey and narrow minded who'd use nothing but Macs because they were best, were pretty and did their work.

Now these people were arts or media based and to be fair, most applications in these fields were only written for Macs. Nonetheless, I saw these people very much as to what these days would be described as iSheep, always utterly and completely devoted to Macs, despite the fact that the machines then did tend to be unreliable, slow and very quirky. I tried to use the machines several times, but really found them too odd and the fact that you couldn't connect them easily to standard networks, filestores et al made me leave them alone.

Then about six years ago, maybe seven, I can't quite recall, Apple's strategy towards operating systems changed and with OSX it introduced the standard and highly reliable Unix system at its heart. It had a pretty graphical interface on top of that which was also more intuitive and usable so I started to have a look and got myself a Mac for the office to see if I could work with it again. And I found it a totally different animal. If there was a problem I couldn't fix by pointing and clicking, I could open a 'command shell' and type in a Unix command and make it do what I wanted it to do.

And because it was a Unix system and my main job was managing Unix servers, it made life very easy having a system on your desk on which you could test server applications without mucking about with the server and annoying users. From around then I used Windows and Macs on an almost equal basis.

Then the next big thing happened; Apple decided to make all their machines Intel based, rather than the quirky (though it was pretty advanced and good for its time) PowerPC architecture. What this meant was the it was possible to run Windows on the same hardware, thus meaning that you could have one computer that ran both systems and rather than owning two machines you could just have one and run your Windows programs on one part and your Mac programs on the other... Or even with some clever software at the same time!!

This was the real turning point which made Macs a really viable choice for normal people. You could buy a basic Macbook for not much more than a high end Windows laptop and these 'basic' machines were dual core processors with large amounts of RAM and hard drive.

I bought my first iMac in Summer 2006 and as my ancient Toshiba laptop was nearing the end of its useful life bought a Macbook in the Autumn of that year. So I now have two nearly 4 year old machines which are still my main productivity tools. With Windows machines you would be thinking of changing them around now for the latest. With mine, I've got the latest MacOSX, oodles of free (and paid for) software and the whole thing still runs as fast as ever. Must admit I did increase RAM in one and Hard Drive on the other, and that was a marginal cost.

Moving onto phones, I bought an iPhone to replace my brilliant Nokia N95 quite simply because it does everything I want a phone to do and is effectively a small pocket computer where I can even manage remote systems easily from wherever I may be. And it does have the best and most responsive touch screen of any mobile I've played with.

So what this piece is saying is that I, and many other 'new Mac' users (rather hate that term, as it's reminiscent of 'New Labour') choose their products not due to some iSheep desire to buy it just because it's a Mac, but because it's the best fit for what we want it to do and does the job easily and well.

But what of the old pre OSX users of Macs? Well some of them hated the new system because it wasn't the same as the old and also hated the fact that others who weren't in the 'Mac Clique' were starting to use 'their' systems. They also found the new capabilities too confusing and retreated into their shells.

Others welcomed the new systems and remained iSheep, believing that anything Mac is good and anything not Mac is bad. And they wouldn't acknowledge the faults that some of the devices or systems had (cf iPhone 4 signal problems, issues in too quickly released versions of the OS etc)

People now use Macs (and iPhones) who would never have dreamed about using them in the past. But they (and I include myself here) also use other systems when necessary if they are a better fit and don't have a 'religious' zeal for only using Macs.

Well, gulp, this has been a very long diatribe, sorry if it went on a bit and I hope it's explained the points I set out to explain.... or at least shed a light on them.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, 12 July 2010

So many blog sites

So here I am not having written here for around 8 months wondering whether I should look at another of the many free blog sites available. tumblr looks interesting. But it makes me wonder as to why there are so many of these....

Surely the inline adverts can't make Google et al that much money? Maybe they do.

Or maybe they're trying to tempt us onto 'premium services' (are there any for blogger?)

Or are they just here providing a 'service' to the internet community... yeah of course!