no-reply@ email addresses – should they be banned?

Well obviously the answer is yes – but let’s understand why that’s the case.

For starters let’s take a quick look at just at what experts in the field of email have to say.  So here are a selection of articles on why you shouldn’t use them…

For starters I thought that Chris Arrandale – the author of the first article made a very good point about the legislation:

Post GDPR, it is more important than ever to take the time to evaluate whether you should use a no-reply address for your marketing campaigns. How can you expect your subscribers to contact you to claim their rights if you don’t allow them to do so?

This is a bit like those irritating post GDPR cookie policies that don’t give you an option to refuse to accept them – see my previous post on this matter!!  And the situation is made a whole lot worse when they deliberately (oh c’mon you know they are doing it on purpose to reduce your ability to contact them!) either hide or actually don’t make an email available for you to contact them – unless you call them first – that’s you Scottish Power that is!

Apparently, according to  in article 4 – in many countries sending emails with a no-reply address is not allowed. In some European countries for example you have to have a working address people can reply to if they have any kind of question about your email – sadly it seems not in the UK – don’t tell me that’s another Brexit ****up!!

Julia Gulevich who wrote the second article list as her first reason for not using no-reply email addresses as it makes it appear that, by not allowing the recipients to reply to your email campaigns, you don’t care about them or their responses or problems.

Oh boy, that is so true.  And I don’t give a rat’s arse what the sender may say that’s the way that I, the recipient, of the email perceive the situation to be.  If they cared they’d make it easy for me.  I reckon the absolute master of this approach has to be RyanAir which has applied this no-reply ethos to it’s entire operation- what a bunch of *****!

The third article points out the issue of people auto-filtering no-reply emails as spam in their inbox.  This is something that I’m shortly going to be instigating.  Personally I find it insulting, demeaning and dehumanising to receive a demand for money (a bill/invoice) from someone who is providing me with a service….yet clearly isn’t interested in customer service.

As an aside here it also irritates me when companies send me invoices (in pdf format) at work and have locked them so I can’t electronically sign them and forward them for payment.  I’ve adopted a policy of simply ignoring these emails now – I have written back and explained the issue but they don’t seem to care so, sod ’em!

 in article 4 also raises the issue of people complaining about spam – some people don’t look for an opt-out link (which if they’re there at all are in very small pale print at the foot of the email) but hit the reply button when they want to unsubscribe from your emailings.  And when people get that “Message Undeliverable” response – hackles will rise, of that you can be sure.

Ryan Phelan  (article 5) is a respected thought leader and nationally (Canada) distinguished speaker. Ryan serves as Chairman Emeritus EEC Advisory Board, and member of the board of directors for the ESPC.  His view is that:

Your brand has a personality, a face. The face might be your logo, but it’s all part of your brand equity. When you send an email with “do-not-reply” or “no-reply” in the sender line, you’re really saying to your customers, “I am never going to look at the email that you want to send me. Never.”

It’s true – think RyanAir’s boss man = Arrogant Twat, Virgin’s boss – Goofy, wacky but innovative, Scottish Power’s Linda Clayton – ah sorry she’s a figment of their imagination – even the image used for her LinkedIn “profile” is called “ghost-person” – I rest my case.  A classic example of just how easy it is for a brand to go wrong – and then just ignore the fact and carry on regardless – doh!

Ms Clayton allegedly signs all of their customer service communication but does she actually exist?   If she does, or doesn’t, by jove she still manages to irritate people.  I’m still getting comments and tweets from a post about her/ I wrote years ago!  So get this brand personality thing wrong at your peril!!

And here’s where we get to the meat of this.  How am I likely to react to receiving these emails?  Well dear reader, how do you think?

…and you’re not wrong!

Yup! In a world where there is so much competition a key aspect of customer loyalty is providing good customer service and making it easy for people to do business with you – including contacting you to sort out any issues that might arise – small or large.  So to adopt a policy of communicating through the medium of a no-reply email is tantamount to a business shooting itself in the head!

Am I likely to do more (any!) business with them?  Not a cat’s chance in hell!

So you marketers and communications professionals out there working for these large (and increasingly small) companies listen up – not just my musings but those of the respected bloggers and experts above.  To be brutally honest there were a lot more links to stuff, in fact Google identified 1,200,000,000 results on the subject of “no reply email addresses” in only 0.40 seconds – yes that was 1.2 billion links!

This is obviously a major issue yet there’s lots and lots of guidance for companies to rectify the issue – I don’t know why they haven’t but let’s just hope that they do get their collective **** together.

Should no-reply email addresses be banned?  YES!

Oh by the way here is just a selection of the no-reply email addresses I’ve received, and organisations that have p***ed me off recently – ok I got bored so stopped adding them!!

  • Auto Trader <noreply@autotrader.co.uk>
  • Adobe <account-noreply@adobe.com>
  • ASM Auto Recycling (Oxford) <noreply@partshark.co.uk>
  • Bannatyne <noreply@bannatyne.co.uk>
  • Cirrus <no-reply@s.backerkit.com>
  • Coinbase <no-reply@coinbase.com>
  • confirmation@easyJet.com <donotreply@easyjet.com>
  • Dyson <do.not.reply@dyson.com>
  • Aegon <DoNotReply@aegon.co.uk>
  • ‘Google Analytics’ <analytics-noreply@google.com>

 

It’s not just me – the world has gone barking mad!

I blame the BBC – it was this article that set me off on this one!  We’re talking about emotional support animals. An emotional support animal or support animal, is a companion animal that a medical professional says provides some benefit for a person disabled by a mental health condition or emotional disorder. Emotional support animals are typically dogs, but are sometimes cats or other animals. So says Wikipedia.

“Recent studies, including one published by BMC Psychiatry, have shown that owning an animal can help relieve stress and boost positive emotions, and studies also show that interacting with animals can increase the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and lower cortisol levels, which helps us to calm down and feel more relaxed.”

Let me shout it loud – I am not against emotional support animals – in fact I really don’t mind how many you have – yes apparently you can have more than one!  I totally understand the power that the unconditional love that some animals are able to give their human “partners” is a wonderful, joyous thing, and that’s not just my view this is a great article written by Dr Hal Herzog covering the subject.

It’s not that I hate animals – I’d love a dog but then you’re locked into where you can go on holiday, having to pick up poo (hell, even my kids are long past that stage thank you very much) and vet’s bills!!

I just think that taking a miniature pony on a plane as an emotional support animal is barking mad – plain and simple.

The issue is that even the research, by BMC Psychiatry, highlighted above, isn’t sure just how helpful animals actually are in circumstances such as travel, and even though it suggests that pets provide benefits to those with mental health conditions it also says in its conclusion that…

Further research is required to test the nature and extent of this relationship, incorporating outcomes that cover the range of roles and types of support pets confer in relation to mental health and the means by which these can be incorporated into the mainstay of support for people experiencing a mental health problem.

And there’s more – even accepting the positive side of using animals for emotional support there is a growing darker side to it – the whole issue of fakery!  That is [shock horror probe] people claiming that they have emotional support needs just so they can get their pet on a plane!  Apparently one woman even tried to get a peacock onto a United Airlines plane in January this year (2018).  The situation has got so bad that  a Facebook page was set up for service dog handlers – it currently has 1,700 members, and, as reported by NBC, in 21 states it’s now a federal crime in the US to falsely claim pets as service and support animals so they can be brought into restaurants, theatres and other public places!

Delta Airlines too has had enough:

From March 1, the airline will require that “all customers traveling with a service or support animal show proof of health or vaccinations 48 hours in advance. In addition to the current requirement of a letter prepared and signed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional, those with psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals will also need to provide a signed document confirming that their animal can behave to prevent untrained, sometimes aggressive household pets from traveling without a kennel in the cabin.”


So to reiterate this point, clearly – it isn’t just me that thinks that there is a problem here. So?  What do we do about it?

Well the good thing is this – there are of course alternative solutions to having an animal, with all the disruption, defacation and disorder than can go with them, on your next holiday or business flight!

  • Perhaps a better approach would be for these poor individuals who are suffering from various forms of anxiety/depression/PTSD be permitted take the right drugs, those that increase oxytosin and lower cortisol levels, to get them in the right frame of mind.
  • Maybe learning some specific techniques can help – Hal Herzog’s article, in its postscript, goes on to describe how a therapist was able to teach one emotionally challenged individual some techniques to enable her to get on a flight – without any animals involved.
  • Or my personal favourite – just don’t get on the plane (with an animal)!!!

 

“Politicians need to take their foot off the accelerator in order to protect the planet.”

Oh really? That isn’t necessarily the case – see this scientific article!

I can vouch for the fact that if I’m travelling to work, sadly using the A34 in Oxfordshire then my mpg performance drops dramatically compared to a run where the car is able to run at a speed closer to the legal limit.  And surely improving mpg is one, I’ll admit only one, measure of helping to damage the planet less. We need to get to and from work and public transport has declined to a point that unless you live in London you’re basically ****ed!

My point being that if cars were able to travel at, or even closer to, their most optimum speed the amount of petrol/diesel consumed would drop significantly.  So, taking that point to it’s logical conclusion spending £42 billion on making cars work more efficiently by providing better roads would benefit far more people than building a railway that almost no one will benefit from – except of course the shareholders of those companies who win the contracts to build HS2.  Less fuel used, less time spent driving to and from work = more time for actual working or for the family – ok I know there’s the negative that HMRC gets less income form petrol duty!

So, instead of ruining many thousands of people’s journeys on a daily basis thanks to traffic issues which are going to cost us nigh on £62 billion by 2016… (and this is just the value that people would put on their time – not the actual cost of their “wasted” time nor the cost of the extra fuel that is being used!)

In the UK, INRIX Roadway Analytics identified and ranked 20,375 traffic hotspots in 21 cities. The ranking was determined by an ‘Impact Factor’, which multiplied the average duration of a traffic jam with its average length and the number of times it occurred in September 2016. The cost to drivers due to time wasted in traffic at these hotspots, calculated using the DfT’s ‘value of time’, amounts to £61.8 billion in the UK by 2025 if congestion levels are not reduced.

…why not focus on these – the top 10 ways that Global Citizen reckons are the way to reduce climate change…

  • Rooftop solar – Elon Musk is big into this
  • Silvopasture – apparently this is as simple as planting trees in pasture land and letting cattle roam there!
  • Solar farms – like your rooftops only on a massive scale.
  • Family planning – tricky given that a vast majority of the under-developed world is Catholic and China’s just upped the children per household to 2!!
  • Educating girls – we’re talking mainly (but not exclusively) in the under-developed world as educated girls/women have less kids – although educating stupid men not to treat women as an inferior species would be a good start!
  • Protecting or replanting tropical forests – clearly cutting down the Amazon is just bonkers.
  • Plant rich diets – this means shifting away from the western style processed food diet – clearly a good thing but pretty tricky to sell.
  • Reducing food waste – absolutely essential.  The amount of perfectly edible food that we throw away is just obscene.
  • Offshore wind turbines – surely there are enough places that we could site these – without destroying the beauty of them.
  • Refridgeration management – we’re talking air conditioning in homes and cars as well as well fridges!!  Apparently the eradication of Ozone crunching CFCs has led to a repairing of the hole but sadly the replacement HFCs which get released at end of the fridge’s life can heat the atmosphere 900 times more than CO2!

Clearly governments have a big part to play in this, so to come back to the original headline of this post, governments need to take their collective feet off the motorist and plant them firmly on accelerators – those organisations that can stimulate innovation and future business, ‘coz that’s the only way we’re going to get things like these:

  1. home battery packs to store electricity generated from our roofs,
  2. wind turbines that can be fitted to homes and offices as well as out to sea,
  3. greater investment in planting more vegetation – everywhere,
  4. ways to convince people of certain religions that their dogmas aren’t right,
  5. getting “out of date” food to people and places that need it,
  6. packaging that can be recycled,
  7. home automation systems designed to minimise power usage
  8. I’m inclined to add in “drive less/drive smart” but only if there’s an equivalent improvement in public transportation
  9. tell Trump he’s an idiot and get the US to stay in the Paris agreement
  10. and finally tell planners to sort out the road network so we drivers CAN drive more efficiently!

 

Is GDPR turning us all into sheep?

I dunno bout you but I’m getting extremely p’d off by all the changes that GDPR has introduced to make our lives better.

The purpose of the GDPR is to provide a set of standardised data protection laws across all the member countries. This should make it easier for EU citizens to understand how their data is being used, and also raise any complaints, even if they are not in the country where its located.”

That’s what the Privacy Trust says. Well guys you have actually done the opposite.  It used to really easy to block cookies and stop people using your data – but now you get things like this appearing – and yes, this from the Privacy Trust’s own website!

We use cookies to see how many people use our site, and which parts are the most popular. Can we continue to use cookies? You can say NO and it won’t have a major impact on how you view our site.

More informationYes

Do you see that we aren’t being offered a yes/no option we’re actually being offered a say yes or we’ll make you spend more time than previously needed to block us?  Where’s the NO option?  Answer there isn’t one!

Clicking the More information link takes you here – https://www.privacytrust.com/about/privacy.html and I defy you to tell me where the NO option is.  I have contacted them and they say they’ll be back in touch within 3 days – I’ll update this post if/when they do 🙂

And of course if you decide you want to block their irritating cookies you’ll get the same damn irritating messages every time you try to view the content they’re pushing out –  believe me, I reckon a number of websites out there will be looking at dropping visitor figures and not thinking positive thoughts about the law makers!  I’ve already blocked plenty!

In addition to (if that wasn’t bad enough!) these extremely irritating cookie/data messages there’s the whole issue of GDPR causing the EU individual’s view of the world to become more insular.

Have you not noticed that a number of your favourites information sources are now displaying messages along these lines – this one’s from Lee Enterprises – they publish 46 daily newspapers across 21 US states:

“451: Unavailable for legal reasons

We recognise you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and therefore cannot grant you access at this time. For any issues, e-mail us at support@qctimes.com or call us at 563 383 2200”

I’ve lost count of the number of hyperlinks that appear in my daily Google alerts about subjects related to my day job that end up with something like that – or they just hang – a blank white screen like the LA Times …great – I’m lovin’ it – NOT!  So, how long is “temporarily unavailable”?  I think we should be told, lest we turn into an insular little country with a jaundiced view of the world – a sort of small USA!

And it’s the combination of the measures that GDPR has inflicted on us web browsers that fills me with dread.  From memory it was Oscar Wilde who famously stated that “The law is an ass!” Well clearly he wasn’t wrong.

I’m of the view that all this nanny-state nonsense is reducing out ability to think for ourselves, and naturally that’s not a good thing in an era where we need all the thinking we can get to sort out the real problems facing our very existence e.g. the people making these laws as well as the Trumpster himself.

Or are you all just sheep?

 

 

 

 

Political correctness – sorry, but yes it has gone mad!

2016-02-01-1195outragePolitical correctness
noun
the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

The definition from Dictionary.com and there’s one absolutely KEY word and that is “perceived” – perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult..etc etc.  Perceived by whom?

There are plenty of people out there who are prepared to “educate” us about how we should be using language e.g. Tess Thorson, Ph.D. Fellow at Aalborg University, based in New York, researching intersectional representations in film and media – I perceive her analysis of a Jonathan Pie video as both deep and deeply patronising at the same time – but I welcome the fact that she has the freedom to express it.

In the last few days we’ve seen stories in the news about students no longer clapping but using “Jazz Hands” instead to make events more accessible to those suffering anxiety.  And we can no longer show the Shetlands in a box on a map…although authorities can avoid complying with this if they provide “information” about their reasons!!

Now I’m not saying that there aren’t plenty of bits of language that we shouldn’t use – there are – although I perceive that there do seem to be more and more…and yet still more being added to the list – almost daily!

Take “black” and “white” for example – the meaning behind these two has changed dramatically in the past 30 years.  My first wife was black, no sorry that should be Afro-Caribbean – or should it be BAME?  Well when I was in Jamaica there was a clear divide amongst the locals which was dependent on their own perceptions of skin colour – black skin was perceived to have a higher status than brown skin – their perception not mine!  My nickname , as given by the smiling, cheeky, kids on the hillside outside of Mo’ Bay was “whiteman” – I certainly wasn’t insulted, I felt accepted!  Yet today “White” is an insult, a term laced with denegration and meant to demean.

We are constantly being told that we need to be more considerate, more inclusive, yet at the same time some people – comedians for example – are perceiving that they are far more constrained, that they now have less opportunity to poke fun at the things and people that damn well need to have fun poked at them!!  Here’s Frankie Boyle back in 2015.

I find it incredibly worrying that we no longer need to hear the actual content of the thing we’re told to be offended by. We hear of people being arrested for tweets without the tweet being reported; comics are blasted for routines that aren’t printed; newspapers hire lip-readers to find something to get offended by at the tennis and then print the resulting fuckfest as asterisks. And who decides whether we should be outraged at something we haven’t seen or heard? The press. Our seething collective Id. None of us would trust a journalist to hold our pint while we went to the bathroom, yet we allow them to be ethical arbiters for the entire culture.

..and it’s not just journalists, see the good Dr listed earlier plus this article by Julia Watson which won The Economist’s Open Future essay competition in the category of Open Society – there are plenty of people keen to reduce your and my ability to use langauage.

To me, a believer in a meritocracy, a lover of language, and a lover of good comedy we need the freedom to be perceived as being “politically incorrect”- even though comedy is inevitably at someone or something else’s expense.  It’s been at “my” expense, my late wife and I both howled at the numerous hard-core cancer gags that Frankie Boyle delivered at the New Theatre in Oxford back in 2012 (she died in 2013) – we didn’t perceive that he was being politically incorrect – just painfully funny.

And do you know what is the most worrying thing of all here?  It’s the fact that it’s some appalling behaviour by no less a character than (yes you’ve guessed it!) Donald Trump that has pointed out the issue really is about perception.

Kurdish journalist ‘proud’ to be called ‘Mr Kurd’ by Trump.

Rahim Rashidi told Middle East Eye in an email on Friday that he felt “proud” and “honoured” being addressed as “Mr Kurd”.

“For a long time, the Kurdish people have been denied their self-right to Kurdish ethnicity,” Rashidi explained.

“Kurds have experienced assimilation and genocide, simply for being Kurdish. To be addressed as ‘Mr.Kurd’ means a lot to me. To recognize my identity when it has always been denied is a great deal for me. Especially by the president.”

Wow!  I mean double-wow!  Good on you Mr Rashidi – I applaud you!

Of course there are boundaries that normal life applies to the use of language to “highlight” various groups in society – and these boundaries and the groups they “highlight” differ from culture to culture – but all cultures have limits on what is acceptable, what is politically correct and what you can get away with.  Embracing different groups and cultures is vitally important, we shouldn’t be seeking to exclude them BUT #FFS are you happy that:

  • In 2007, Santa Clauses in Sydney, Australia, were banned from saying ‘Ho Ho Ho’. Their employer, the recruitment firm Westaff (that supplies hundreds of Santas across Australia), allegedly told all trainees that ‘ho ho ho’ could frighten children, and be derogatory to women. Why ? Because ‘Ho Ho Ho’ is too close to the American (not Australian, mind you) slang for prostitute.
  • ‘Reliable’ and ‘hard-working’ – surely the two keystone employers look for in an employee? Well, maybe not: a Hertfordshire recruitment agency boss was once told she could not request those qualities – Jobcentre Plus in Thetford, Norfolk, told her such an advert could be “offensive” to unreliable people.
  • Undoubtedly the rudest-sounding dish in your recipe book, Spotted Dick is  pudding made with suet, raisins and currents. It dates back centuries – the earliest reference is 1849 – but that didn’t stop one overly concerned council from changing the name to Spotted Richard. Flintshire County Council was apparently sick of all the jokes, so changed the name – much to the chagrin of everyone else.
  • Oxford University’s Equality and Diversity Unit tried to accuse people who avoid eye contact with others of ‘racist micro-aggression’ — before it was pointed out that such advice might be seen as discriminatory against people with autism who may struggle to look others in the eye.
  • Suffolk County Council stopped using traditional signs warning drivers ‘Cat’s eyes removed’ after fears that real cats may have been killed to manufacture these reflective road safety measures. Ipswich resident Rebecca Brewer was reported as saying: ‘I have a five-year-old daughter who was very upset the first time she saw the sign — she really thought cruel people were torturing cats.’ Instead, signs across the county now state: ‘Caution, road studs removed.’
  • Use of this braided hairstyle by white people is said to represent cultural appropriation. When the designer Marc Jacobs was criticised for using a group of predominantly white models wearing dreadlocks in a show, he argued — not unreasonably — that this was similar to black women straightening their hair. This was met with further outrage from (mostly white) commentators who complained that hair-straightening had been ‘forced upon the black community due to beauty ideals based on white archetypes’.

Well let me tell you – I’m not happy about that list.  In fact the Daily Mail, that arbiter of good taste (NOT!) provides a complete A-Z guide for you to peruse and make your own minds up about – because it really is about you and how you perceive things.

perception

But really you just need to be nicer to people – on a one to one basis, face to face.  Be sensitive to other people’s situation but do not, never ever, stop highlighting what you perceive to be injustice, exclusion, racism, sexism or any other kind of ism and remember those words from your childhood…

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

I urge you, if you still have the stomach for it to watch Jonathan Pie’s Hammersmith Apollo show – there is an entire section on political correctness and despite what some might say – it’s spot on the mark!   In fact let’s keep “political correctness” as a term specifically for politicians – those lying, mendacious, self-publicising egomaniacs who use and abuse language on a daily basis – causing offence to many, avoiding questions, taking our money and continually getting away with it – Trump, Johnson etc etc you know who you are.

 

Prescience – not just improving the present!

To quote that prescient genius Douglas Adams…

The Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses have been designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to danger. They follow the principle “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” and turn completely dark and opaque at the first sign of danger. This prevents you from seeing anything that might alarm you. This does, however, mean that you see absolutely nothing, including where you’re going.

Well reality has finally caught up – well sort of!  The IRL – or In Real Life – glasses use polarised lenses to make television displays appear black. Wow (Not really!)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/embed/p06mmxcz/45707209

As a wearer of glasses that currently can be vari-focal and react-o-lite but still not polarising then I’m all in favour of improving face-wear.  The original Joo Janta’s were the DB’s but sadly what has followed no has not really been up to scratch…

Take Google Glass – I mean a fantastic idea but a bit of a disaster in reality – so much so that the previous url won’t show much – unless you’re into Corporate Glass and then there’s some stuff for you to digest. They didn’t create that much of a buzz when they came back in version 2…unless you’re a corporate that is…. As an augmented reality tool for business there’s seems to be a well defined niche but it’s not a breakout consumer led product yet and the question is will it ever be?  and it’s still butt-ugly!

Well at least it isn’t as hopeless as Magic Leap.  I mean just strap  google Cardboard and a mobile phone to your head – it’s the same effect and a small fraction of the cost – and you’ll still look like a complete dork!  Actually you’ll look a lot less of a cyborg if you adopt this cheaper route – just check out the main image on their website – scary or what?  No, I’m not going to put an image of it in this post – it’s tooooo scary!

What’s the problem here?

I mean, given that all you’re basically doing is strapping a head-up display (HUD) to your face – and HUDs are 10 a penny!  So why hasn’t someone added a wi-fi chip and spent a bit of time minitiarising this device so it fits on your face…?

Like I said…what’s the problem here?

One thing that might be killing this hoped for development – well a couple actually…is the ignorance of the public who are prepared to accepts a few small increments in performance for a shed-load of extra cost – Apple, I’m pointing the finger squarely at you here!  Add to that the failure rate of projects on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo and you start to see there’s a risk averse culture brewing!

That said you CAN find some out there but, consumer products?  I don’t think so… $1,800 for a developer kit for the latest Vuzix designs…ouch!  And Snap’s second generation glasses still only allow you to take photos – stunning (not!).

What we need are more Douglas Adams – not arrogant jerks like Enol Smuk – but people who can dream rather than find a nano-unit of extra performance or efficiency – revolution not evolution!!

…and when do we need it?  NOW!

A***holes not potholes

Today it wasn’t the potholes on the roads that I had to look out for it was the a***holes!

Now I’ll admit that I’m not the world’s best or most careful or considerate driver.  I’ve never tried to get an advanced driver certificate and intermittent “road rage” is a fact of life – a few seconds and it’s passed.  That said I do try to look out for other road users, (hell I even give space to cyclists and horses ffs!), I try to be aware of drivers who may need to change lanes on motorways and move over before they start to indicate and I also try to look ahead on non-motorway roads to see potential hazards….but unfortunately not everyone appears to do the same.

Let’s put aside here the cretins who think it’s fine to cruise down the middle lane of a 3 lane motorway or worse stay in the 3rd lane of a 4 lane motorway when there is no-one in the lanes inside them – for goodness sake just read the highway code – please!!

Let’s focus on A roads today.

My morning, 30 mile, journey to work takes me across country to join up with the A34 at Islip.  The first potential hazard comes where the road from Marsh Gibbon meets the A41 (Bicester to Aylesbury road) and at this time of year on a sunny morning it is dangerous – there’s no doubt about it.

You have streams of traffic going both ways, a railway bridge that reduces the visibility to the west and to the east the junction has been widened… Most of the traffic from Marsh will be turning right towards Bicester.  So following the highway code you position yourself towards the centre line of the Marsh road.  At the same time you raise your left hand to block out the sun which otherwise would make visibility non-existent..and then you wait for a gap.  Unless of course people decide that by adopting the correct position they can jump out from behind you in the queue and slide down the left hand side and completely block your vision – two people did that to me this morning – completely oblivious to my predicament – ****wits, the pair of them.

I’d travelled barely a couple of miles to Ambrosden before I came across the next pair of selfish, non-forward thinking idiots!  There are more roadworks (yes I know – what is it for this time?!) and single line traffic managed by traffic lights on the road out of the village towards Islip and this was compounded by today being “bin day”.  The section of road that’s down to a single file is only about 50 yards but towards the far end of that the bin men were working to empty people’s bins.  As I approached the traffic lights I could see that there was an almighty jam and there was only enough room for 2 cars to go past the lights – these two cars would have totally snarled the section of single file traffic.  So I pulled in at the point where you are supposed to stop when the lights are red – even though the lights were actually green.

It was clear to me that the bin lorry would be taking a couple of minutes to clear out of the way and the people coming the other way had been blocked off – so in fairness patience was the order of the day and let those people come through first…..

But sadly not to the cars that decided to fill up the space thus delaying everybody else…one was a white Renault I think but the other one was a silver VW Polo complete with an Exeter University sticker on the back – well sadly the standard of education at that august place has apparently fallen – considerably.  Don’t they teach students to “think” anymore?  Selfish ****wits – both drivers!

I applauded their decision to totally block the road  – ok I was being sarcastic really.  (I saw them again on the A34 at Botley….so their actions were really worth it – NOT!

Maybe the 4 drivers who I have come into contact with today, who have disregarded the safety of other road users might like to read one or more of the following pieces of guidance:

  • Think – THINK! provides road safety information for road users. Our aim is to encourage safer behaviour to reduce the number of people killed and injured on our roads every year.
  • Confused.com – Motorway driving: How to stay safe
  • IAM RoadSmart – We make better drivers and riders

…but that aside just stay the hell out of my way please!!

 

 

 

What’s gone wrong with wearable tech?

I mean this is from the 19th September 2018…and the lead story is from December 2016!  And this was the 3rd in the list of responses to the Google search “the latest news in wearable tech”.  Thankfully most of the other items returned are actually alive and kickin’.

That said this is, sadly, indicative of the state that the Wearable Tech market finds itself in.  A lack of true innovation, a lot of me too products, funding issues, fraud and a major brand trying to turn heads to the dark side – you know who you are!!!

But it could have been so much better!

There’s been so much innovative thinking but so little delivery of stuff you’d actually find useful and really, really want.   The market has stalled, interest in it has fallen away and the moving finger has written and then moved on!

Here are just a few of the plethora of start-ups that promised the world, briefly burnt brightly and then bombed!

Amiigo – this was a combination of a wristband and a shoe clip.  It promised a lot but in practice wasn’t that robust.  Well they’re still alive and they’ve now morphed into Wavelet Health and whilst they offer “clinical” quality heart rate tracking it’s interesting to note that on their consumer site even they haven’t realised one key factor – “one device to control them all”!  OK  that’s a Lord of the Rings reference I know but take a look at this image from their site…

Can you spot their band on these runners? No you can’t and that’s because their band doesn’t tell you the time – in fact it doesn’t have any screen at all – you have to have a phone to view any data.

So it’s fine for the medical market where you’re looking at historical data (captured over time) but not the consumer market where it’s a need to know NOW basis.  Shame guys, I remember the data interpretation was really good!!

Actually the medical market is one area where wearables are seeing some traction.

Another of my favourites was the Kairos T-Band – here’s their indiegogo campaign.  Given that I already own a rather nice analog watch, and for a while was happy to wear the Microsoft Band 2 (terrible battery life but good functionality) this seemed an excellent way forward. But it never really took off – I mean the website is still there but you can’t buy the T-Band and the expected delivery date of Spring 2017 has been and gone.

In fact, for me, the Microsoft Band probably got closest to the ideal – but even then in addition to it’s woeful battery life it wasn’t water proof!!   Despite this and the fact that the app hasn’t been updated since 2017 the band is still visible on the Microsoft website.   There was talk of a 3rd version but sadly that never appeared and Microsoft lost interest in the sector.

..and what are we actually left with?  Well at the budget end you’ve the Chinese and Xaomi and Huawei in particular churning out extremely cheap and pretty well equipped devices – but their tiny screens still leave me hankering for the MS Band’s vibrant display or even an e-ink screen – I mean why has nobody gone down that route – with the impact of battery life it would deliver???

That’s a key issue – battery life.  My Huawei Band 2 Pro lasts for 21 days!!! The Samsung Gear Pro 2 which costs 3-4 times as much depending where you look – lasts “several” – only several?   Hmm not that impressive!!

With all this dillying and dallying the market is going to be filled by Apple’s Smartwatch – a beautiful piece of technology, but it’s made by Apple and that means you’re stuck with what they are prepared to deliver, which judging by the reviews is getting better but it’s still expensive for what it actually is….

So there’s still time and space for someone out there with the nous to deliver a tracker style band with long battery life, maybe an e-ink screen and all the health and fitness tracking functionality that you could shake a stick at.  All the pieces are there – it just needs someone to pull them together….anyone out there good at producing whizzy video’s?  Coz I’ve got the idea!

Cor, what a whopper!!

Can you spot the similarity between Apple the company and Donald Trump? Well this most recent post from Techcrunch suggests that they are both pretty good at telling porky-pies!!

I mean the Trumpster is ahead on the total number but that hasn’t deterred Tim Cook et al from playing catch-up!!

Trump is a phenomenon. An asshole too. I mean just read what the Washington Post has to say on the matter – scary or what?

But that aside as this post is about lying tech giants as opposed to assholes pretending to be statesmen let’s focus on Apple!

TechCrunch lists 7, yes 7, whoppers in Apple’s latest product launch. That’s going some.

Is that what it takes now to get punters to part with their hard earned cash? Lies? Wow, how the mighty gave fallen..yet at the same time how big have we mugs grown? £1,400 for a phone??? That’s what I’ve heard, are we mad?

Well not me personally, I’ll make sure I buy my non-Apple devices from some company in the far east that delivers the same product with a better spec for a significantly lower price!!

I know that marketing is about being economical with the truth but Apple’s having a laugh. Or are Fanboys that dumb? Possibly!

But either way people, and particularly that means you people in tech companies that pretend to be holier than thou..stop the bullshit, stop the lies and FFS stop ripping us consumers off!

These are a few of my favourite things

Agios Stefanos, Avliotes, NW Corfu.

Maltezers

Family and friends

My car

Margaux wine

Liverpool football club

The West Wing, series 1-6

Bougainvillea

Le Manoir Aux Quatre Saisons

Knowing that you have got the right girl when she calls cyclists bastards.

Athuruga, Maldives

The Dream Society by Ralf Jensen

Acts of random kindness

Technology…that works

Being beside the sea

Funky business

The Cluetrain Manifesto

Armani jeans