So my year of study comes abruptly to an end. It is extremely pleasing to have maintained a 100% first time pass record for all of my marine studies. Those in the know, will be well aware how hard I have worked this year to achieve them all.
Earlier this week I overcame the last hurdle and passed my oral exam in Hull. Very rapidly posted my documents off to get them upgraded and then at 6am the very next morning, got on a plane to Italy for a month of work.
Back to the grind for a month – while I continue the search for something .
I was also fortunate enough to be able to sit a speed awareness course. You may remember I got flashed (sadly a speed camera – not a naked wench) while driving up to Newcastle earlier in the year for two of my exams. It was an eye opener but not for reasons you may suspect.
There was a girl there that was telling a story about two guys that were crossing a road when they were hit by a car and killed. She said the car was reportedly travelling at 50mph and she was shocked that a car hitting a person at 50 would be enough to kill them. My thoughts – can people really be so stupid?
I blame Hollywood. See, in the movies, you can be running a marathon, get hit head on by a speeding bus, bounce across the roof and over the side, brush off the dirt and finish the race while still setting a new world record time. A bit like the A Team back in the 80’s – all those gun shots and no-one ever got hurt. Makes the yoot of today think they are invincible.
Any road up – I am now more wiser to the operations of those new smart motorways – and I still have a clean licence.
Now, telephones – lets talk. I dropped apple some time ago now and favour the Android system because of the freedom and options it gives you over iOS. What miffed me though, was just how easy my Samsung ‘Gorilla Glass’ broke on my phone 4 times in one year. Now, I am not generally a heavy breaker of phones. In all the years with iPhone, I only ever broke 1 screen – in fact, I had only ever broken one screen since I got my first phone in 1995.
The Samsung replacements were not cheap either, nearly £200 for a front and £80 for a rear. Add that to the £750 purchase cost and you have a whopping £1310 over two years – if you ask me, that is taking the piss, plain and simple.
It gets worse – for each repair, expect to be without your Samsung for a full week. That would be a real shitter if you didn’t have a spare. You can’t walk into a repair shop with them, you have to courier them away.
I chatted with the guys in carephonewhorehouse about this. The spotty little oik had an answer for me – buy insurance at £80 a year! Now, I very nearly told him to fuck off but instead, I tried to explain.
I shouldn’t have to buy insurance for something when it is made with ‘Gorilla Glass’. The name implies a significant inherent amount of strength – correct me if I am wrong. I would never expect a phone glass to break while it was in my front pocket and I was laying on the floor.
They didn’t get it. I wilted a little.
I had a cunning plan though………..NOKIA.
Remember them? Those tech geeks from Finland are making a bit of a come back. I have been checking out their product for a few weeks now. Their offering, a Nokia 6.1 plus comes with 64gb of internal storage, expandable up to 400gb, yep 400 – that’s enough memory to put everything I have on my macbook pro onto, 4gb RAM and a 1.8ghz processor. 16mp front camera and a 5mp rear will capture your wrinkles in every selfie. It also boasts dual sim capability although I am not sure if that is at the demise of the expandable memory but time will tell because I ordered one. It runs on Android so that means I can pick it up and it will work exactly like my Samsung – no need to learn a new operating system.
Do I sound excited?
Honestly, I am a bit. The biggest part of that excitement is because of how much it cost. I bagged all those specs, that will compete with any iPhone or Samsung for a fraction of the price. Yep, my new Nokia rolled in via the postie at a tad under – yes UNDER …………………………….£250.
There is one downside – not splash proof. My theory is at that price I can afford to buy a new one every 6 months for the next 2 years and still save over £300 on the Samsung experience across the same time period.
There was another angle I considered. The new Samsung Note 9 with 1TB of storage and a Dex system and then when my Mac dies, I can do away with a laptop altogether. Downside there is the Mac still works well enough even if I do believe it is on its last legs – the new Samsung is over a grand though – and as Mike Skinner so famously said – ‘A grand don’t come for free’.
Now based on my experience with Samsung after sales and the running costs – I opted for the Nokia – I will update you soon on the demise of Samsung.
I found a little note tucked in my shoe of the morning of my oral exam earlier this week. A little surprise from the missus as I was getting dressed for battle. She likes to do that when I am travelling, just to remind me she is there – waiting patiently. I thought I would share it with you.
The other day, I very nearly took a step into the unknown. It would have been a momentous occasion too, no less spectacular than when Armstrong walked on the moon.
I almost wrote a blog from my phone. It would have been a first for me, if I am honest I find those little screens a bit fiddly. Can you imagine JK Rowling writing her next book on a smart phone? Aint gonna happen – genius needs comfort.
Anyway, not being a complete tech phobe – I did upload some photos from my phone to the blog. It also happened to be very easy too. I liked it. But there was method in my madness.
Around 6 months ago I finally took the plunge and bought an Android phone. Spurned on by Apples continued push to constantly take away all the functionality in their products that I like and thus force me to pay for a cloud account that I do not need or want. Better still, they take away functionality and then put it in an app that you have to buy. That can’t be right.
So, slowly I began to use the Samsung S7 Edge. What a beautiful phone – if nothing else, looks wise it was like comparing Florence Welch to Vera Duckworth, Florence being the Samsung. It sits in your hand with more ‘ooomph’ than an orphaned kitten, it really is something to behold.
The big drawback was something all Android/Mac users will tell you about – synchronizing. See, when you plug your iPhone 6S into your Mac, it syncs everything for you, writing data in both directions between your phone and your laptop. The Samsung has none of that, despite several apps claiming they will do it, I have yet to find one that really does work. So manually, I pull out the expansion card and write all of my data, music, contacts across once or twice a month.
It really was a bit of a drag – or so I thought. The more I used the phone the more I liked it. Yes, dragging the data across was a bit of a pain but I am happy to do it now and have much preferred to stick with the Samsung over the iPhone. In fact over the last couple of months, the 128gb iPhone 6 has become nothing more than a very expensive iPod.
Another nail in its coffin – I downloaded a music player to the Android the other day and have to say the sound is insanely good so the iPhone days are clearly numbered. With a 7 year old Mac beginning to creak at the seams, there could easily be a 100% move away from Apple on the cards.
Apple have left me miffed for a long time, offering updates with many new things but they never – NEVER tell you what they have taken away, and they always take away something I am very used to using. Now at this point I would normally push you over to the App store where you could read customers reviews of Apple software updates so you can see for yourselves – BUT – as their last 3 software releases got so badly slammed by the users, Apple decided to stop letting people leave reviews. That’s good logic right ?
Now, back to Samsung – technically, the phone is streets ahead. I won’t bore you with blurb but instead stun you with a master piece of a practical experiment.
In the photos section of my blog you will find a folder entitled ‘Asia’. In there are photos that have only been taken with a smart phone, my big camera hasn’t seen the light of day. If you click on one of the photos it will open it in full screen but also show you the source of the photo – i.e. iPhone 6s or Samsung (SM).
You will be stunned by the photos the Samsung has taken – stunned! You will be certain I am telling porkies and I used my big camera – but no, they are all phone shots – the Samsung not streets ahead, but motorways/freeways/autobahn ahead. The iPhone is an infinity away – it misses the mark by at least a Steve Jobs.
So there you are – Samsung over Apple every day of the week.
There is however, a sting in the tail. A sad ‘Steve Urwin’ style of sting that threatens to diminish all that the Samsung has achieved. Even the waterproof phone that I can use to Skype the squeeze while I am in the shower has a serious, loyalty threatening flaw.
I had the misfortune just over a week ago to be laying on the floor with the phone in my pocket. I heard that light and gentle crack that can only come from smart phone glass and knew instantly I had damaged my phone. I took it out of my pocket to see the back of the phone was shattered. I was pretty amazed if I am honest – I didn’t even realise the back was glass.
Anyway – it broke. I took it to the local Samsung shop here in Singapore. They told me as it was a UK phone, they could not repair it as the parts were different.
I got in touch with Samsung customer services in the UK. I got in touch with then 6 times in as many days. After 6 days of repetitive email it transpired that the Samsung ‘Experience’ store in Leicester couldn’t repair it for me, they could only sell me a new unit. It also came to light that there was not an approved Samsung repairer within a 50 mile radius so my only option was to have a courier collect the phone, have it repaired and returned to me. This would take 7-10 days.
I am lucky. I have a back up phone – the 6s. Could you imagine not having a back up phone and being without your whole world for a week or more?
Now here’s the real sticking point for me. If I broke my iPhone in the same way, I could walk into ANY Apple store worldwide, pay a small fee and take an exchange phone out of the store normally within 20 minutes or so of walking in. Samsung may just piss me off and direct me back to the Apple store.
Samsung please take note (but note a Galaxy note as they catch fire right ?)
Now, bug off over to the Asia photos section and see what I mean.
I got side tracked today – somehow I ended up looking at some old Kurt Cobain footage and as always ended up looking at Courtney Love too. Now after looking at those two, one has to be curious about the progress of their offspring right? What a stunner she turned out to be. Go and have a look for yourself.
That said, I always had the hots for her mum, Courtney. Rocking that junkie scuz look but better still, a gravel voice and rock chick status, she always grabs my attention when I see or hear her. Hugely under rated as an artist if you ask me – but judge for yourself.
I’m fake it’s so real I am beyond fake !! That line is up there with Robbie Williams’ I’m contemplating thinking about thinking’.
Anyway moving on, lets talk about knee damage. Today we are looking and feeling pretty good.
A little while later
Getting closer to the end
And then finally
And that was that – two tiny little holes. In comparison, when you look around, really nothing at all. More of a splinter wound than anything resembling having a camera, vacuum cleaner and scissors shoved inside your knee but that is modern medicine for you.
Anyway – off to the Apple store in Leicester – while I am there, take a look over to the right at the album ‘Tinder Girls’ if you really want to see what goes on with that App.
But they wont will they? Seems the BBC has employed more than their fair share – I guess that’s what you get for being politically correct? 5% of your employees must be one eyed lesbians, another 5% fucktards, 3% retired ice cream vendors with a dog named Patch who lost a testicle in the Vietnam War etc etc etc.
So the article in question – I was reading the news yesterday and saw a piece about an earth quake in Italy that had triggered an avalanche. I understand that I may not be the sharpest tool in the box but this……?
Earthquakes cannot be predicted with precision but seismologists had suspected this particular area of central Italy would experience another batch of serious tremors sooner or later
Now, if there were an award for vague predictions, this would definitely get second prize. Second only to a weather girl I watched once (on the BBC) who made the startling prediction that 2013 had a 50% chance of being a hotter year than 2012. I hope her parents hadn’t invested too much in her maths degree. To have the two options of hotter or colder clearly is a 50/50 situation, or in other terms 50%. Turns out she had told us bugger all.
But sooner or later ? Come on FFS – that isn’t rocket science. It isn’t really even a prediction is it. It’s reality.
Lightening the load a little. My Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge experiment has been boxed for now. I was trialling a very lush looking Samsung while here for two reasons. I have been intrigued by the Samsung for a long time now and secondly, having a local SIM in a different phone meant that I could still use iMessage to communicate with the rest of the world.
As beautiful as the Samsung is, I have struggled with its functionality. Not that Android is no good, my problem lies with the shite internet connections I have to suffer while working at sea. I need to investigate more about how to use the phone at its best and that just isn’t possible with a sht connection.
So now it is boxed, fully charged and ready to try again when in blighty or sell on to a lucky bleeder that will get a £625 phone for a smidge over £400 I suspect.
I went back to the iPhone 6s after trying for hours to get photos off the Samsung onto a work computer so that I could order parts. Certain that the flaw was the internet speeds but I couldn’t plug the Samsung into the Mac and draw the photos off and that pissed me off!!!!!
That said – I did really adore the Samsung – a very pretty phone and with an expanded memory of 232GB – plenty of music could be had if only I could figure out how to store it on the SD card !!!!!
Imagine my anticipation. Flying out of Birmingham Airport on the 19th October, heading to Qatar for the first time. The legendary customer service that you might expect from Qatar Airlines coupled to the fact that I would be flying on the new(ish) Boeing Dreamliner for the first time. The dreamliner – for those that don’t know, is cutting edge carbon fibre construction. Now, translating the phrase ‘cutting edge’ into my engineering mindset, I get the phrase ‘new in the market’ or to put it another way ‘not yet proved to stand the tests and rigours of time and flight’.
So, I wandered up to the boarding gate a little ahead of time to get a look at the wee beastie and see if I could calm my nerves some. I peered in the early morning gloom at the front of the aeroplane and saw something that did indeed rattle my cage somewhat.
See, call me old fashioned, call me what you will, aluminium repair tape has its place in the world, I agree, and have often used it, normally around exhaust joints etc etc etc. Never in my wildest dreams would I think of using it on a vehicle that travels at 35,000 feet in excess of 500 mph – least of all, would I expect to see it holding the pilots window in place on the latest Boeing Dreamliner – but by christ, that is what I saw.
Yeah – this was going to be the longest 6 hours of my life. Except it wouldn’t be. It turned out to be 7 hours. Apparently the incoming flight had a Mini Cooper in its hold and the cargo boys at Birmingham were having some trouble getting it out again, so I sat at the gate for an hour biting my nails.
My excitement and apprehension was cut short though. I have a problem with airlines – none in particular, they are all the same. Being 6’3” I struggle with leg room. Most airlines combat this by taking an extra £50 or so out of my wallet for letting me sit in the exit row seat (also very handy for being the first out if something does go wrong). Except on this flight, and my return leg, all those exit row seats have been reserved by 5 foot midgets. An extra problem on the Dreamliner as there is something the size of an xbox under all seats, with the exception of the middle seat. It stands in the inside edge of the seat leg, effectively reducing the width of the space under the seat in front – or in more simple terms, the space where you want to put your feet is reduced and now to combat the Xbox installation, you have to sit crooked in your seat for 6, if not 7 hours.
Now, without getting off topic, this is one of my biggest gripes with modern world. People keep selling us upgrades, better services, more comfort, faster response times, more overhead locker space etc – but who the fucking hell thought that it would be a good idea to wedge these metal boxes under the seat exactly where 6 people in each and every row want to put their feet?
Personally I never travel with a bag that tests the weight limit of the overhead bins, I would much prefer a little less up there in favour of more leg room at my seat. I can’t imagine anyone in the world would agree with Boeing designers on this one – with a few exceptions – Hipsters and Apple Lemmings, because we all know that Hipsters and Apple Lemmings just have to wank on continuously about how good all things modern and diverse are – the fuckers !
Moan over. Now, I have added a few photographs from a recent visit to Portugal so do pop across to the photo section and take a little look. Nothing spectacular, but all the same, have a look.
Cold Feet – I just watched the last of the current series (courtesy of my newly acquired VPN, I can now watch all the UK TV while globe trotting).
Think back 15 years or so when Cold Feet first came about – It was astounding back then. It was one of those TV programs that when it was on, you were always home to watch it. Never missed, and always planned for, it was an epic from a good time in life. The whole country used to talk about it. Sure, there were others – 30 something from the 80’s, ER in the 90’s, Six Feet Under in the 00’s, but this was just better, home grown better, and Faye Ripley with that Manchester accent used to (and still does) drive me wild.
For me, it picks up perfectly where the last series finished over a decade ago. The characters have grown older perfectly and it still makes me feel warm inside – like a good glass of red and block of chocolate.
So I was sad to see the last one go tonight but then I remembered that it has been commissioned for a second series so I am happy again. Tra La Laa
Now really and finally
16 year olds do not have the right to use the phrase ‘back in the day’. Come on, back in the day means at least half your life ago – so when you are 40 and you say back in the day, you are referring to the period in your life when you were 20. I just don’t see anything that could have happened that was so memorable for an 8 year old that they need to recall it with their adolescent plebs.
Oh yeah back in the day when we used to buy penny chews on the way to school….
Now the last really and finally…
If you want to see where I am right now, take a look at the link below. I am in a place called Doha, which is in the Kingdom of Qatar. I am here for a 5 week gig, working on a boat that is moored at a place called Porto Arabia on The Pearl. They were kind enough to supply me with a Toyota 4×4, a fuel allowance for the car and a massive, and I mean mah-hoosive apartment on The Pearl overlooking the Lagoon and the City beyond. There is more than enough room here for John and Mon to come and stay – I actually think Rue might even manage it!
It’s Sunday, so before I start the normal moan and groan, let’s have a little happiness shall we? I saw these two cats the other day and they reminded me of the Chuckle Brothers. I did watch all the way to the end and did even manage to chuckle to myself a few times. I bet you a pound to a penny you can’t watch these two without having a laugh.
I told you so – to me to you to me to you to me to you
Now, let’s get started on the more serious stuff. Scary Clowns. I like this new craze but have yet to sight one for myself. Why do I like it ? well, when one of these fools stands in front of me, one of two things will happen.
If I am in my car, the suspension will be lowered so that when I drive over them, there is no space between the underside of my car, the road and their head.
The other option will be simply to thrash them to within an inch of their life with my bare hands.
I wonder how long it will be before one of these dick heads gets a good pasting or better still (In the land of the good old USA – shot to pieces). I look forward to reading that story on the BBC.
Staying with the USA at the moment, I really can’t wait to see which candidate gets elected. I have to admit that more of me would like to see Trump in power purely because he will shake the shit out of the establishment – god knows all political scenes would benefit from a good shake up. I do feel for the yanks though – I mean really, it’s not much of a choice is it now?
The ideal political situation is to have two opposing parties that are both suitable enough to be in power, that keeps everyone honest – but America, holy shit – not a choice I would want to be faced with.
Lets moan about good old Apple again. I see they have a new OS on release now, been out for a week or two. Now historically, for the last three or four years, I have always waited before upgrading to read the reviews. This stems from an old upgrade I did that was so shit, I actually uninstalled it and ran with Mountain Lion for the next three releases. Anyway, as a matter of course, I look at the reviews in the app store. Now normally the reviews are so bad – so unbelievably bad. This has been the case for the last three OS releases where more than 50% of reviews were giving just one star, with many recommending that you don’t install it.
So I look again in the App store this morning to see what the last two weeks of reviews are saying about it. What did I read? Nothing. not one single review has been left. Now normally that would suggest that no-one has taken the app but in this case I can’t believe that in the last two weeks, none of the apple lemmings have clicked on the download button.
That leads me to only one conclusion. Rather than deal with the issues that users have openly complained about – remove the platform that allows them to comment about it. Can that really be the case? Apple, what is wrong with you? I predict grim things for your future. I am one more step closer to a return to a Windows system and an android phone !
My next startling prediction will be that in the next iPhone, the earphone jack will be back!
Now, on a happier note – on Wednesday I am heading to Doha, Qatar for a 5 week assignment. Never been there before and always been curious about it so a 5 week stint is perfect for me. My only concern is the new Dreamliner I will be flying out of Birmingham on. My concern is all about carbon fibre.
I have been sailing on boats made out of that stuff for years without concern. My issue is flying with it. lets see, a failure at sea level in a boat is pretty easy to overcome – I can swim. A failure at 35,000 feet is a little bit more tricky to deal with – I have still yet to perfect my gliding techniques, especially when I am unconscious due to lack of oxygen. That said, lack of oxygen should make hitting the ground at 120mph fairly painless.
Anything else to moan about ? No I don’t think so.
I would like to say hello to a few people though. I did recently open a Facebook account again after a good 5 years without one. My reasons where completely innocent – there were a couple of recruitment pages that I needed to access on there. That said, people started noticing I was there again and sending requests. I very quickly realised why I had stopped using it all those years ago.
So I decided to never send a request but always accept them if I was sent one. (see Shazza, that’s why I couldn’t look for you). I even got requests from people I have no idea about – weird huh?
It’s time to get a little controversial again I am afraid, so expect a good long read. Make a cup of tea and get back to your screen as quickly as possible. This is gonna take at least 30 minutes of your time.
Then, put your feet up and watch this little video of an Australian comedian debating gun control. It’s in two parts but don’t worry, part 2 is directly underneath part 1. When you are done watching, come back here and finish reading
So that’s Jim – a very clever guy, funny as hell and absolutely spot on with his remarks.
You know why I posted it right? Another attack in America with 20 reported deaths. I, like the vast majority of the civilised population will wonder for just how long this can go on – certainly after Obama leaves office, I think there will be little hope of any form of gun control for generations to come. It’s a sad form of politics where the most powerful man in his country is powerless to make meaningful change.
Which of course leads me nicely into Brexit. A step too far?
Well lets see. At the head of the European Union sits an appointed board of governors. This appointed board makes ALL of the decisions that affect all of Europe’s citizens, passes laws and membership requirements for all member states. Below them in the heirachy are the MEP’s or Members of the European Parliament. MEP’s are present from each country of the block and are voted for by each blocks citizens – but here is the cliff hanger – The MEP’s cannot propose, create or remove European law – that can only be done by the governors.
Tricky that, in a democracy! See, in whatever democratic society you live in, you have the option to vote in your representatives or equally vote out someone that has represented you badly. So if someone taxes you too much – vote them out, if life is good, vote them in again. But with the EU, there appears to be nothing you can do. if you don’t like what they propose and enforce on you – there is nothing you can do to protest or show your distain. That to me sounds more like a dictatorship than a democracy.
Now I have to admit that sometimes in a democracy, we need a little bit of a dictatorship. See, all politicians, regardless of their colours want to get re-elected, they like the power and they certainly like the bigger pay packet that being in leadership provides. And this is where democracy fails us a little. There are times when a government MUST, for the longer term good of their country, MUST make unpopular short term decisions with a view to a longer term win – but they rarely do. A single term in Parliament is not long enough to make good, future building changes for your public, it needs longer. But who would re-elect a government that just increased taxes by say 2% to improve spending on healthcare or pensions? Both in the long term good of the people but no one wants to pay for it.
So go back to the EU for a second, if they propose and implement something that 75% of the public dislike – nothing can be done to stop it – it becomes EU law and EU law MUST be complied with by ALL member states.
Some of this could be good too – we all drive cars now that have a standardised diagnostics socket on board so that not only main dealers can fix your car but also independents can too – they don’t have to buy one tool for Jaguar, one for Mercedes, one for Volvo etc – they all have to be the same. But remember the oddities too – remember when cucumbers had to be grown straighter? or when they banned the UK from having different coloured fire extinguishers for different types of fires because they said it caused confusion? Imagine that one – you are on holiday in Spain say, and there is a fire. You have to read the extinguisher to see what type it is to make sure it is safe to use on that type of fire – BUT YOU DONT SPEAK SPANISH !
Nigel Farage once made a statement where he said something like –
‘If you think the EU is undemocratic, you have fundamentally misunderstood what the EU is about – It is Anti- Democratic’
Now that statement is absolutely cock on. He is 100% right.
Imagine for a minute, as individuals, we were not allowed to choose which bank we used, we were told which one we had to use, and the people that had the sole control on which bank we were forced to use, were the bankers themselves.?
OK, so now you think I am a Brexit campaigner right? Well understand my personal position. Those of you that know what I am about, the essence of free movement around Europe has been the backbone of my existance for the last 11 years or so. In those 11 years I have lived and worked in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Portugal (lets exclude time in America and the Caribbean). The schengen agreement has been very good for me – the single currency has been superb for me – I have often complained about needing the £ and €’s in my pocket but always been mindful that anyone who gave up the pound would be committing political suicide.
So I have several personal reasons for staying in. A house in another EU country for one. A job that requires me to travel extensively within Europe for another. If the UK left, would I need a Schengen Visa to live and work around Europe for another 10 years? I currently have my car with me in Mallorca – will I still be able to do that? What would become of my house in Portugal – could I sell it and take the money out of the eurozone?
Moving around Europe has been fun, enlightening yet incredibly frustrating at times too. One thing I will always say is that going back to the UK is going back to a country that works, has great healthcare, excellent customer service, shops that are open when you can use them, a great Police Force and minimal corruption.
Now before you disagree with any of those statements – Firstly ask yourself how much have you travelled and experienced things outside of the UK? I have seen a lot over the last decade – let me assure you, of all of the countries I have seen, The UK has THE BEST answers – thats not to say they are perfect but they are certainly the best of all I have seen. Secondly – if you believe the UK is not all that, why on earth do you think so many Non UK Nationals want to get there ????
The big question for me is – how much does the EU want to dissolve the UK’s identity? Hollywood could make a film about it – the critics would call it a magnificent work of fiction, all the movie wankers in Cannes would quaff on about how good it was.
Imagine the UK getting absorbed into the EU to a point that our identity is lost for ever. Way back in the 90’s I was completing a staff survey at one of the best companies I ever worked for, a company called LeasePlan. They were conducting a survey of ethnic backgrounds for diversity. Way back then, one thing that stuck with me was when they asked me for my nationality and there was no option for ‘British’. I spoke to the H.R. director who was a very good friend of mine and of Indian descent and asked her where my option was and she told me I was now ‘European’. I marked ‘other’ and sent it back.
Think it is still unrealistic? Ask your parents who voted in the 70’s for joining what was then the common market. Back then it was just a trade agreement – already now, Brussels pushes laws and regulations at the UK.
I am often left with the feeling that the Eurocrats view the Brits as a troublesome bunch that just won’t come quietly. I know they fear us though too. Imagine, if the UK votes to leave, they will be shitting in their overpaid pants, waiting for the next country to call a referendum too. As I travel, I talk to locals. Where ever I am, the same fears apply. When the euro came in, prices went up, salaries went down – everyone is worried about immigration – EVERYONE.
If the UK leaves, it will survive. It is the 5th largest economy in the world. I don’t doubt that things will be a little tougher for a couple of years while deals are thrashed out, but it will survive. When other countries see this too – they will want out. Sure, economists are predicting doom and gloom but remember, these are the same economists that FAILED to see the banking crisis in 2008. It will be a step into the unknown to leave but also remaining will be an unknown step too – a step of not knowing how much control Central Europe will take away from this plucky little island. And remember, once it’s gone, there is no way of getting it back.
Greece is not in the headlines too much anymore – but it is still there – absorbing huge amounts of EU money on a daily basis.
I spent a lot of time in Brussels over the last 5 years or so. One thing that struck me was the sheer amount of EU money that is lavished there. Diplomatic cars, special parking places, houses rented to EU workers, lunch allowances, drinks after work – all paid for out of EU funds.
Consider this for a moment. Lets say Brexit happens, the EU throws its toys out of the pram and sets about making an example of the UK. Will all of the ex-pats in Spain and Portugal have to return home? If they did, it would kill those economies stone dead. Would the UK in return then kick out all of the europeans on a tit for tat basis? Maybe – but that would relieve the housing shortage right? Doctors waiting times would plummet and maybe you could then get an operation within a few days of diagnosis.
So the EU stops all trade with the UK. Something like 40% of our goods are imported from Europe. Could they sustain such a loss in sales? of course not. There would need to be a trade deal made – a deal that helped both parties, a mutually beneficial agreement. How long would that take? Well we know the EU is a big beurocratic machine that rumbles along slower than a snails pace but while their economies are suffering, it would also be in their best interests to strike a deal.
Will people stop flying to Europe? Of course not. Every time I fly into Nice or Palma my passport is checked anyway – EVERY TIME so what difference would it make to me? Every time someone lands in the UK – their passport is checked – no difference there either. If I have to get a visa, its not the end of the world. I have a visa for America – it was relatively inexpensive and simple enough to get, fits nicely in my passport along with an expired Russian Visa.
If the UK had intelligence of a terrorist attack in Paris, would they withold that information – of course not. Would the Germans warn the UK of an impending attack – Of course they would.
Politicians now need to give facts to the public instead of scare mongering or ‘Project Fear’ as it has been called many times. The Leave campaign needs to accurately publish the NET cost of EU membership rather than that all encompassing larger figure that they like to band around. The public need to trust their instincts when listening to the tripe that falls out of many politicians mouths and learn to dismiss comments that are clearly unsubstantiated nonsense.
There is a lot of wiffle waffle being spoken and it is damn easy to spot. Apply a little bit of common sense and you can easily work things out for yourself.
Personally, I am better off in but if you prefer to have a democratic, self governing land of opportunity you have to vote out. Merkel’s career is done – her people are vastly annoyed with her open door policy on immigration and as for Hollande, well, it wouldn’t be the first time the French have laid down at the feet of the Germans would it?
And just because you voice a concern about immigration – IT DOESN’T MAKE YOU A RACIST. Remember the story about the boy who cried wolf? If people continue to misuse the ‘racist’ card it will be come so devalued that when it is genuinely need, it will be ignored by the masses – and that would be a very sad situation. People have a genuine concern about the physical load exerted by huge immigration on services within their countries. Let them voice their opinions and be heard. Immigration is not a bad thing – uncontrolled immigration is.
Phew – rant over
If you really didn’t think Big Brother is watching you – something very suspicious happened to me today……Apple.
So we have all heard the rumours that your smart phone microphone can listen to your conversations covertly and then target web & app adverts specifically from the conversations it has eaves dropped on? Well, this is true. A myth buster style trial took place a couple of months ago and it took some tech nerds just 3 days to build an app with readily available software that could do just that.
Imagine my surprise today when I pulled my phone out of my pocket to see a web page displayed. Ok, sometimes I may forget to screen lock it, we have all ‘butt dialled’ someone right ? But what I saw today was beyond spooky. Yesterday I received a photo on my phone of some paperwork for my rowing machine. Within that paperwork were the operators instructions and other stuff including the original sales receipt. I zoomed in on the receipt to get the invoice date and displayed above that date was the suppliers name, Fitness Superstore. Well bugger me, if the web page being displayed wasn’t for the same company.
Now, the receipt was a year and a half old, my phone is only a month old, I didn’t even know the name of the store I bought it from but could there be a spy in my software that scans my photos and directs me to those web pages?
As I plugged along on my very muddy 10k run this morning I had plently of time for thoughts. If I am honest, the run itself was far from perfect. The tow path was a mud bath and the woods at the back of Abbots Farm almost had me on my arse twice.
Time wise, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, not quite 2 minutes slower than my best on that route but it was muddy!
I slipped into thoughts. Lets talk about Apple for a moment. I read an article this week on the BBC that their latest iOS software for their phones has been permanently disabling phones that have been for repair by independent phone shops. You send your new phone away for a screen replacement or a new home button and it comes back with ‘error 53′. You might think this is not the end of the world but in iOS9 – this now means your phone is useless – it will never work again and any info on it is lost for good.
I have been experiencing similar bullish tactics with my Mac after recently upgrading to El Capitan. You see , the biggest problem with computer updates is you are always told what they have added but they NEVER tell you what they have taken away. If you knew which functionailities were removed, updating would never be an option for most users.
So now, if I want to email you a photo, I can no longer use the attach button from my mail browser and then go into my photo library and find it – nope, Apple want you to buy into their Cloud product, that lets you share easily (or more easily than the way they force you into if you won’t pay), so instead now I have to open the photo app, drag a copy to the desk top and then attach it from there. Hardly progress from what is one of silicone valleys’ giants now is it? The last software was better.
It doesn’t stop there. iPhone users that have the latest software will find that airdrop has changed too. No longer can you open air drop and make your phone visible to only people in your contacts list as with the older software, no, privacy on airdrop is now only available if your contacts are in the cloud.
Of course, there is a price for using the cloud.
As my Mac gets older, slower and clunkier and needs some financial input I find myself questioning the rational for moving back to a windows based pc and an android phone. See, a pc of the same tech specs as the Mac will be around half the price and comes with the freedom to source ‘stuff’ from outside of the world of the manufacturer. Its getting to be an easier choice to make. There was a time when I would have used that line of thought as a down side though. Have you ever been on the end of a windows based problem where the hardware manufacturer blames the software and the software manufacturer blames the hardware?
It did make me think though – some time ago the EU ruled that car manufacturers had to make all of their car computer diagnostics plugs the same as each others. The reason was to allow independent garages not to have to invest in different computers for all of the makes out there – or to put it in very basic terms, to allow more competition as to where you as a consumer can spend your money. I can’t see that this is any different than that?
Hark back to better times, when Apple products were wanted because they were revolutionary. Those days died with Mr. Jobs. Cancer affects more of us than you might believe.
Of course, a lot of Apples problems come from the ‘hipsters’ that just have to have the latest stuff. I was looking on iTunes the other day for info about Birdys new album when I noticed that although the release is not due for another month, 11 people had left reviews for it. The ‘I am so trendy crew’ had got there before the record company have even cut the final disc! Dont believe me? look at the screen shot below.
I got into a debate on the Apple help forums the other week with a guy called Terence Devlin. Terence suggests that people should stop complaining about when things change for the worse or stop working completely with Apple products because people aren’t running the very latest software. His solution was to ‘upgrade – its free’ As our debate raged on, I mentioned that over 50% of the product reviews on the Apple store for its last iOS release gave it 1 star out of 5 with the majority of those recommending that you don’t install it at all (more 1 star reviews than 2,3,4,&5 added together). Terence then suggested that those negative reviews should be ignored because people like to complain. At that point, I gave up with the fucktard and left him to his little world of what I suspect is a very wealthy family that pay for whatever his little hipster heart desires. I also suspect that he doesn’t work for two reasons.
He is always camped outside the Apple store to be the first to get whatever is new that week.
Daddy pays him a jolly good allowance each month so the reality of earning a living is left to the serfs and peasants on street level
So back in the UK for 10 days. It is cold and wet here. Sure, the South of France gets cold too but it is dry, the air is dry which makes for a different, almost warming kind of cold. Add to that I have allowed myself to be bullied into going to Bike Park Wales on Wednesday with The King of Touching Cloth himself – Mr Yates. The very next day I have my ships medical to give me the green light to set sail for the next 2 years and then early next week, a funeral – but more on that later.
I am expecting to sustain some physical damage on Wednesday, not only from being miserable from the cold and wet for hours but also because of the tricky or even treacherous conditions will lead to mishaps I am sure. Fingers crossed, it will be Yates this time. While he is in a bundle of pain on the floor, I will pull along side him and gleefully jib, ‘see you at the bottom dick wad’ as is the norm for our outings – I like to think of it as the ‘Top Gear’ style of caring for your chums. I have little choice though – it will now cost me as much to back out of it as it will to go – and I hate wasting money.
Thought it was an urban myth did you? An Orwell fantasy? Well no.
A couple of nights ago, I spilt a Belgian beer all over my lovely Mac. I know what you are thinking, what a waste of good beer – I thought that too. The other end of that argument is that it also shafted the afore mentioned Mac. Now, to cut a long story short, I called the Apple store in Birmingham for help. The automated answering service knew my name and pronounced it well, then asked me if I was calling about the iPhone 6 I purchased in 2014 or the Mac book Pro I purchased in 2010. Getting scary I thought. Then I realised, the Mac was bought in Sint Maarten and the iPhone in Florida – neither of which required my UK phone number!!!!
Think about that next time you are clicking away happily on Facebook, liking shit that you have no idea of its origin.
Now sadly, I am suffering a very old windows laptop from circa 2009, still back then Windows Vista was all the rage. My update history suggests I haven’t used it in almost a year and there were 79 updates that I needed to take – my verdict, it is shit. I will be more careful with my beer in future.
So I left Mallorca on Friday and had a long long drive to Dunkirk. As I left Palma and headed for Alcudia in the north of the island, I started to enjoy the drive. I decided to immerse myself in the local culture and found a local Spanish radio station to listen to. It took me about half a mile to realise that Spanish radio was in fact a load of shit and I found my own music shortly after.
Barcelona was the cluster fuck that I have come to expect from Spain, 8.30 on a Friday evening and it took me nearly two hours to make 4 or 5 miles onto the motorway but when I got free, it was simple cruising all the way. I really wanted to make the Millau bridge during daylight and stop to take in the sights but time and daylight were not on my side. Being honest, to make the bridge during daylight was a little ambitious on my behalf.
Needless to say – I made it safe and sound to the shores of blighty where the temperature was nice and cool. The first weather forecast I saw was warning me of an impending heat wave – something I really couldn’t care for – I was looking for some cool wet weather!
This weekend is Great North Run time – tending to an injury at the moment but wont let that put me off too much – so long as I don’t need to stop for a dump on the way round, I should be ok. You will fing coverage on the BBC.
Plenty of news to share with you this time, I know its been a while since my last post – deal with it !
The Great North Run has seen fit to give me two entries for this years event. In June, I will be running in the 10k event, come September, I will be in the Half Marathon. I accidentally upped my distance today in preparation for those events. I left Rupert’s house in Cawston heading across the fields in the general direction of Draycote Water. I was told it was 5k around the lake and with the extra bit getting there and coming back, I was expecting a healthy 10k hop.
I stopped for an emergency poo at the club house there, and was a tad bemused to see the runkeeper already at 9.1km. By the time I was done, it was a 14.7km run or close to 10 miles – turns out that Rupert was talking miles when he said 10, I was thinking in kilometers.
Both of those Great North Runs are televised so be sure to tune in and shout some encouragement at your screen – don’t worry what your neighbours think – better still, get them shouting too.
The bird has accepted a job in England so the last few weeks have been spent finding a pad for her to move to – all done now and the move should be complete by the weekend – now all she needs to do is learn to drive on the right side of the road – the left !!
More details will follow in private dispatches.
Lets talk about twig tripping for a moment. It’s a new phenomenon for me, which is surprising considering the amount of cross-country work I have done in my life. Twig tripping happens when one of your feet hits the ground and catches the end of a twig or stick. Because you have hit the end of the twig, the other end gets lifted up off the floor by a few inches. This lift coincides with your opposing foot moving forward to take the next step when it meets the uplifted end of the stick, normally around where your shoe laces criss cross at the front of your shoe – then you have a problem, one foot on the ground behind you, the other jammed along side it while you have 5 or 6mph of forward motion. If you are lucky, the twig doesn’t get tangled in your laces criss cross and your foot can slip around and off the end of the twig and plant firmly with a thud as you recover. Worse case scenario is the twig gets jammed up in the laces and there is no escape other than face planting.
Not only is it catching me out at the moment, but I have seen others having exactly the same problems – which leads me to believe that there is a new breed of twig with the sole purpose of exterminating the human race by face plant or puddle suffocation
Puddle suffocation is a subject I will cover at a later date.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear a new Prodigy song last week and even more happy to pre-order their album for release later this month. I was saddened to hear that Zane Lowe is leaving Radio 1 but am extremely curious as to what he is going to be doing at Apple. When I left the UK back in 2004, Zane had just recently started with Radio 1 and was shaking up the establishment and bringing a new breed of music to the airwaves. I did have a blast on Radio 2 the other week too – Jo Whiley. I remember listening to Jo way back in the early 90’s when she did the ‘Evening Sessions’ with Steve Lamaq – they were responsible for introducing me to Radio Head and the junkie slut tones of Courtney Love and Hole.