Tag Archives: UK

Smartphones – The choice of a New Generation.

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.

Customer Service.

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.

 


Fake News

Fake News

Lets get political ! OK, Olivia Newton-John sang about getting physical but the lyrics still fit the tune, try it !!

Fake news is a new watchword, all over the media. I can’t decide if it is deliberately fake news or just people embellishing stories, misreporting facts, not researching correctly of just trying to be seen as the first to publish something fashionably ahead of all the others. The latter being the reason they haven´t researched the subject properly.

Now, Donald J Trump uses the words fake news an awful lot and I want to analyse that a little. See, I think Trump is being quite clever about this. The media are well known for hashing up shit, misreporting or to be more accurate with that – selectively reporting what happens in the world

By selective reporting I mean that they leave relevant information out so that the facts they present, distort the truth to the point that they completely change the story.

Remember that TV advert for the Guardian Newspaper from a few years ago? Several different camera angles as a skin head ran towards a city slicker with his briefcase?

Guardian Ad

That is exactly what I mean, the skin head was saving the city slicker from a falling pallet of bricks but a different camera angle would have you believe he was trying to snatch his bag. Ironically, that advert itself was misrepresented too, with the final cinematic cut not being the same sequence as the other angle presented.

But move on to Trump. This is where I think he is being very clever and ultimately very brave. He is using a media stream to communicate with 20 million followers. In that stream, he can give exactly the information he wants you to see, that only he can edit, no media slant, misrepresentation, no so-called experts opinions, just his own voice.

There is also a down side to that. He can write whatever he likes, admittedly he will have some self censorship but ultimately if he wanted to tweet ‘Hilary is a Lazy old cow’ he could. So for his own gain, he could also deliberately mislead 20 million followers with no-one able to call him to task on it before it hits the outside world.

I am still curious about Trump. In a year of big political upsets, where the establishment is being challenged, it brings a little bit of hope. I am tired of weak and woolly politicians speaking without actually saying anything meaningful. Many of them too scared to say what they really think or what their electorate want them to bring into the public forum. Nigel Farage was not like that – he generally said what he thought and also what many of the voters were thinking too. Not afraid to say what he thought might just need saying.  I am so curious about the enigma that is Mr. Trump that I opened a twitter account purely to follow him – show me another politician that has grabbed my interest so much that I did similar!

Now, a few of you might think that I have gone a little mental right? Donald Trump, Nigel Farage but let me throw a few more names at you – Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders and a name soon to vanish into the political archives Angela Merkel

Merkel is about to pay the ultimate political price for not listening to the concerns of her voters, a trip to the political wilderness is all hers – she will get hammered in this years elections.

Geert Wilders is even more interesting. All the opinion poles are suggesting that he will get support but not enough to form a government – opinion poles, remember how wrong they have been in recent history? I think old Geert just might surprise a few people.

Marine Le Pen – not this time is my prediction, but next time yes. France is not ready just yet but her time will come. François Hollande will be walking off to the wilderness hand in hand with Merkel

Wow, you might think, what on earth has rattled my cage today?

 

The Bloody BBC !!!

 

I hate this. I have for many years been proud of the BBC – an establishment that can be trusted, to report fairly and fully. Respected around the globe for its neutral stance on delivering accurate information – but it’s been on a slide.

Being out of the UK a lot, my first choice for news is the BBC. I see spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, factual mistakes in their news now. There used to be a time where they had a website to report these errors. Send them a note with a link to the page and they would deal with it. Not any more. I can only assume they got tired with the amount of corrections that they shut down the site to tell them about errors rather than address the real issue.

You have seen it too right? A reporter is looking at Facebook or some other web site and using that as their single point of research on a story. They claim a ‘social media outcry’ on a topic and post 3 examples. In a country of around 60 million people – 3 comments from internet warriors is hardly a social media outcry in my book.

You may have noticed too that the BBC also use google maps to add photos to their stories. Lets say Alfred Hitchcock was shot dead in Wankalot Street, Greater Manchester. Do they investigate further or just type wankalot street into google maps and screen grab a picture of that street? It is assumed that Google has listed the map & street correctly then published all over the BBC.

Lets not forget inaccurate reporting too. Ever read a story where they say something like ‘more than 12 cars were damaged’. What – you can only count to 12????? Investigate, give us facts because 1000 cars is more than 12 and 1000 suggests more of an incident than 13 doesn’t it?

The BBC is under threat of extinction and it would be a real shame and completely irreversible if it were lost just momentarily. If nothing is done to stop the nonsense it is starting to spout its demise is just around the corner.

I just read an article on Scottish Independence. I see Nicola Sturgeon is now wanting another independence referendum. I say give it to them and we can bury her political career next to Alex Salmond. The article in question is linked below. I just don’t know why these people hate the English with such a passion but let them get on with it – I am sure the Scots have more sense than Sturgeon credits them with.

The article headlines with ‘Scottish Independence support at highest ever level’.  Later into the story it writes this paragraph.

 

Asked to choose between independence, devolution and not having any kind of Scottish Parliament at all, 46% of the 1237 people surveyed between July & December of last year now back independence.

 

I have two issues with this. Such a small sample of people to make, what is, a huge statement from is wrong, but pollsters, you can’t tell them anything right?

More importantly, I seem to remember the last Independence vote Scotland took ended 45% Independent to 55% stay in the Union. So why such a dramatic headline for Independence support when in fact only a 1% increase has happened and that 1% was from less than 1300 people in a country where 4.5 million voted last time .

By the time that headline has been regurgitated a dozen times on social media it will be 70% in favour of independence – and you wonder where fake news comes from ?

Don’t blame Zuckerberg and Facebook, blame the cannon fodder that blindly hit the share and like buttons.  Don’t take my word for it though, research it yourself here

 

BBC Report

 

Phew – rant over. Holiday time is just a few days away. I will be back in Europe from 22nd March until 24th April and there are some key people I really would like to see.

 

Sister, Parents & Uncle at the top of the list of course, then there are others – Connor, it’s about time I took you for a coffee after all of your avid reading. Faggot pants Clifton might also get a visit while I am in Cornwall visiting Maria Moore. There is also the real possibilities of Portugal, I hear the very lush yank from Salt Lake City is back in town, Zenia-June and of course Mallorca to meet with Jones the Prick who is about to become a father for the first time. If I am in Mallorca, I have to meet with Belahendro and Bomber too – the list is endless but does also include John and Mon or the future in -laws if I can just get Lynsey to say yes !

 

Flying on the 21st, back on the ground and on my UK number from 06:30 on 22nd – send me some love


I’m not racist but……….

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

 

And Finally

 

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?


Think like a fat man

Blowing my own trumpet tonight – yeah yeah I know all the jokes

Just weighed in at a tiny 88.5 kilos or by my reckoning that’s 13st 13lb or for the yanks, 195lbs.  Amazing I hear you cry !  ‘Well bloody fucking hell it is’ I quip back.  Think back to this time in 2011 when I was a whale of a man at 117kilos, or 18st 6lb or again 258lbs.  It is amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.

That’s a loss of 28.5 kilos or, in layman’s terms, a bag of cement powder with 3 and a half bags of sugar on top of it. I also measured in with a waist line of 40” but am pleased to say I have been at 34” for some time now and am also in need of a trial fit in a 32” waist band. That’s 8” off my waist band – or as I prefer to call it – ‘a cocks length’!

Imagine carrying a bag of cement powder around with you all day – it sounds absurd.

I also took just over 3 minutes off my 16km (10 miles) record tonight, and I can feel there is more to come out of it still.  Another 1 minute 40 and I will be sub 90 minutes.  For an old twat like me – that is moving…………but of course, the lighter one becomes, the faster one can move – what !

Jolly good to Scotland for voting to stay in. Anyone but England eh? Does this mean we have to tolerate that tennis twat Andy Murray for even longer?

 

Let me leave you with a thought – or more an inspirational tune for when you are running and your legs hurt

there is nothing better than a bit of Run DMC Versus Jason Nevins to get your legs pumping over Las Olas Boulevard bridge.

 

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b89_1411165439


The last of the Summer Wine

A year has passed since I wrote my note – I should have known it right from the start!

This time last year I weighed in at 115.2 kgs, thats a little over 18 stone, or if my mothers scales are to be believed, close on 18 1/2 stone – or for you septics, 253lbs.

In the last year, I have covered some miles, all under my own steam – 2360 to be more accurate! That equates to over a quarter of a million calories burned in specific exercise. I have ran my longest single distance non stop of 10.2 miles, cycled on my mountain bike for a whopping 51.4 miler and even managed a top speed on the mountain bike of 44.6mph – it is all wholesomely impressive. My trousers have also shrunk somewhat, from a rather lardy 40” waist last October to a now very delicate by comparison 34” waist.

You would hope that with less of a belly, my knob might appear bigger but sadly no. More seriously though, I have logged activities in Belgium, Spain, UK, Antigua, Florida, St. Maarten, Rhode Island, Maine, Nantucket Island, Savannah and most recently Las Vegas with Georgia and the Caribbean looming before christmas.  It has been an incredible journey.  I have also worn out 3 pairs of training shoe in that time, thats over 300 squids worth of footwear! I have 2 new pairs of running shoes safely tucked away under my floor in my cabin – they should last until we get out of the caribbean and back to civilisation.

My original Claude Butler Mountain bike has been retired and I now plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land with my Specialized instead – but it is fed and watered by gods almighty hand. Yet to be ridden in serious anger, I am becoming one with my new steed, practise indeed for when myself and Mr. Brown meet once more somewhere up on Cannock Chase no doubt.

So what is next I hear you ask? A half Marathon is on the cards, followed some time in the near future by a full marathon but you will have to keep stopping by to see what I am up to, and more importantly, where I am up to it.

Let me leave you with a figure on that weight loss. Today, as I stand here, I tip the scales at………..

92.9kgs   or around 14 stone 8lbs

or (for the septics)

204lbs

 


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