Bravo Mr Bezos

Ok for starters, let me say upfront, that playing away from home when in a relationship is not a good thing. It’s often symptomatic of a relationship that is already broken. However in this particular instance the are others issues, issues that impact on many more people that take priority over any moral indignation.

I’m referring to the recent public admissions of infidelity by the head honcho of Amazon, Jeff Bezos.

in this instance AMI, the publishers of the National Enquirer, had managed to get hold of some intimate texts and “dick-picks” that the Mr Bezos and his paramore had been sending to each other. AMI has been trying to use these to blackmail Bezos into stopping an investigation into how the tabloid obtained text messages exposing his extra-marital affair.

Federal investigators and legitimate media have of course suspected and proved that Mr. Pecker has used the Enquirer and AMI for political reasons. And yet AMI keeps claiming otherwise:

“American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise.”

Of course, legitimate media have been challenging that assertion for a long time.

AMI threatened to publish the pictures and the texts thereby embarrassing Mr Bezos into stopping this investigation.

However, rather than capitulate to the blackmail, Mr Bezos decided to go public about it and has published the specific details of what AMI have actually said, including the detailed descriptions of the texts and images!

Well done Mr Bezos, in this instance – even though some might argue that being one of the richest men in the world he has an ego similar to that of Vladimir Putin and the idea of people seeing him as some kind of Lothario, at his age, might just give him a semi!!!

But well done anyway for exposing the extortion, the corruption and the hypocrisy that exists in Trump’s America.

But not so much well done in the infidelity bit!!

KickStopper and IndieNoNo

What a fantastic idea it was – to crowdfund the development of cool new tech, new gadgets and stuff that the mainstream manufacturers thought too risky.  And what a shame that it has developed into a den of iniquity, of unfulfilled promises and downright lies from those running the campaigns.

According to their own stats Kickstarter claims over 150,000 successful campaigns raising over $4bn – that’s non too shabby.  But hold on just a cotton pickin’ minute – just because the campaign is successfully funded doesn’t mean it will ever deliver on its promise. A CNNMoney examination of the top 50 most-funded projects on Kickstarter found, way back in 2012, that 84% missed their target delivery dates -and that’s just the top 50.

How many of those 150k+ “successful” campaigns ever delivered anything?  Hmm, difficult finding any statistics – I wonder why?  Thankfully there are enough examples of campaigns that have been investigated to highlight the level of criminality that is going on – I particularly like this exposé from March 2018!

Indiegogo has raised over $1.3Bn from 800,000 campaigns.

Indiegogo is a less stringent alternative to the more successful Kickstarter and as such, its failure rate was always doomed to be high. Founded in 2008, the crowdfunding site has had its ups and downs. Guttulus, the Marketing Internet cat lists the top 17 failures and boy oh boy some of them are really big!!  I’ve got a 50% success rate with them:

Just put it on to take a call or hear music on your phone or PC. No earphones required!  I’ve backed them as the product is really innovative.  It certainly delivered what it promised – except that my head doesn’t seem top generate any bass, so the sounds comes across as tinny.  However if you copy their video of a guy pressing the cap against his car then yep, that works – some serious weight of sound!
With Kickstarter I’ve backed 5 projects – with varying success:
Wearable Input Device that lets you control anything. Gesture control, text transmission, payment, and more! Well in reality it was too flaky to actually be usable – but from memory it did turn up when expected – so that’s a positive!!
Exploding kittens by Elan Lee
This is a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats.  Truly surreal, arrived as promised and does what it says on the tin (box!) – brilliant!
Sowatch by Farasha LLC
The world’s first autonomous smartwatch that tracks cardiovascular health, blood pressure and customizes your workouts !  A mega rip off.  Still, after keeping people waiting for 3 years, I still don’t have the item.  Not really sure if it will ever arrive and not sure what it might actually deliver in terms of usefulness – as after all it’s now 3 years out of date.
Amabrush is the first toothbrush, that cleans all your teeth at once in just 10 seconds!  Allegedly!  Some people have received products and the reviews are rather mixed, so I’m not holding my breath about this one either.
A new innovation in the way you shower; luxurious experience and superior cleansing…  Well this actually arrived – approximately a year late.  And it meets some of what it claims.  It does use a lot less water..which means that the showering experience is pretty crap, it’s turned my power shower into a trickle.  So I’ve removed it….
So looking at my experience here I’d say I’ve had a success rate of 1 in 7 – Exploding Kittens.  Everything else has either not turned up or just hasn’t met the hype.  And sadly for anyone out there who is looking for backing to fund their innovative project these people have screwed it for you I’m afraid.  I know that there’s a higher rate of failure in technology start ups but judging by what I’ve seen on these 2 crowdfunding platforms there’s a higher level of fraudsters and get rich quick merchants – that’s a shame as it will make many more people than me look at what they’re investing in more carefully and at the same time tarnish the reputation of these crowdfunding platforms to the point where they no longer provide a viable route to market for some of the brightest thinkers of our time.  Sad but true!

Fly tipping – worth bringing the death penalty back for it?

Fly-tipping is a serious criminal offence for which you can be prosecuted. The courts have various powers available to them to tackle fly-tipping, including imprisonment, substantial fines of up to £50,000 orders to pay costs and an order to deprive rights to a vehicle used to commit the offence.

Sounds pretty serious to me, and having seen so many examples of on my daily commute I can sympathise with those whose lives are affected by it.  It’s an insidious crime, done in the dark, when no-one is around to witness it.  The people who do it are the lowest forms of life, they can be grouped along with child molesters and self-serving politicians.   As some might say “hanging’s too good for them!”

Yet so many people seem to be getting away with it – the statistics from Defra are astonishing:

  • For the 2017/18 year, local authorities in England dealt with just under 1 million (998,000) fly-tipping incidents, a slight decrease of 1% from the 1,011,000 reported in 2016/17.
  • Two thirds (66%) of fly-tips involved household waste. Total incidents involving household waste decreased by 4% from 2016/17.
  • As in the last few years, the most common size category for fly-tipping incidents in 2017/18 was equivalent to a ‘small van load’ (33% of total incidents), followed by the equivalent of a ‘car boot or less’ (28%).
  • In 2017/18 34,000 or 4% of total incidents were of ‘tipper lorry load’ size or larger, which is similar to 2016/17. For these large fly-tipping incidents, the cost of clearance to local authorities in England in 2017/18 was £12.2 million, compared with £9.9 million in 2016/17. This increase was driven by an increase in the number of incidents in the largest size category of ‘significant/multi loads’.
  • Local authorities carried out 494,000 enforcement actions in 2017/18, an increase of 18,000 actions (4%) from 2016/17.
  • The number of fixed penalty notices issued has continued to increase, up 20% to 69,000 from 2016/17 and up 91% on 2015/16. This is the second most common enforcement action (after investigations), and accounted for 14% of all enforcement actions in 2017/18.

So over half of the reported incidences of fly tipping, that’s 528,000, were done by people like you or me and white van men.  Basically, people who were too lazy to go to the council tip!  You lazy bastards, it’s actually free to dispose of most household refuse at the tip!

Enforcement cost councils £16.9 million in 2016-17. This was on top of the £57.7m spent cleaning up fly-tipped rubbish.  Add to that the money reportedly spent by members of the Country Landowners Association, on cleaning up rubbish dumped on their land, said to between £100m and £150m a year, and you have a serious, and expensive problem.  Unsurprisingly they’ve come up with a 5 point plan to improve things:

  1. Impose and enforce penalties which better reflect the seriousness of the crime
  2. Enforce fines for home and business owners whose waste is found in fly-tipped locations
  3. Appoint a national ‘Fly-Tipping Tsar’
  4. Develop new ways to clear up and support victims
  5. Promote education and working in partnership

A noble attempt but frankly I’d still recommend hanging!

The Guardian posted a series of readers’ photos of “surreal” fly tipping in London…

And it isn’t just a British phenomenon, in New Zealand a graffiti-strewn and derelict bungalow appeared on an area that had recently been cleared for a new retail centre in Takanini, to the south of Auckland!

Closer to home, in Italy, according to Wikipedia, the Triangle of death in Campania, is Europe’s “largest illegal waste dump”. The area, which encompasses Italian municipalities Acerra, Marigliano, and Nola, experiences illegal waste disposal practices by the Camorra such as unauthorized burying of toxic waste under places frequented by humans.  Frequent fires at dumping sites and illegal waste fires have resulted in contamination of the air and drinking water.  And this raises a second issue driving this practice – fly-tipping has become a source of income for criminal gangs – here in the UK, as well in Italy.

So, what can be done about it?  Well for starters I hope that all the offenders in the videos that can be found on this BBC website were punished, if nothing else for the lame excuses they came up with!

Well one thing I’d recommend is to undertake some DNA analysis of the waste itself, swab the sofa, or the ties of bin bags, or the handles of the drawers and doors, I’d bet a few DNA profiles that could be checked with the National DNA Database would be found, and then maybe a few less criminals could be locked up, or hung, whatever!

Equally analysis of the contents of bin bags can lead to identifying whose waste it is – just think of the amount of junk mail (that you just bin) that either has your address or even better your name and address on it…you’re with me, I can feel it 🙂

However the greatest improvement can be made by standardising recycling and waste management – across the nation. Just telling people in one area what they can and can’t recycle, via some dull piece of local authority marketing, isn’t going to hack it.  It needs concerted centralised action – I mean Jeez, the bins are different colours in different areas – for those of you who want to know what you can recycle, and where check this link out!!  The rest of you, I suggest you start writing to your MP, start lobbying them and get the major waste companies involved too.

And stop trying to charge small businesses for taking their waste to council tips – encourage them to come to you – in the long ride it’ll save money!  Just make it as simple as possible and then the system will work better, and we’ll all benefit.  It’s either that of bring back the death penalty…

My phone, it’s just like banging on rocks!

Tell me, dear reader, what’s your opinion on the following?

  • Have smartphones killed the art of conversation?
  • Watching television will give you square eyes
  • A room without books is like a body without a soul.

…are you sitting there, harrumphing away, muttering things along the lines of..” the kids today, pah!”  Or are you like me typing away at your keyboard thinking – these are about as accurate as Bill Gates (allegedly) saying that “640K ought to be enough [memory] for anybody” or William Orton, president of the Western Union Telegraph Company saying in 1876 “What use could this company make of an electrical toy?” when offered the patent for the telephone.

I’ve written before about my love for technology – when it works – and equally I’m not a creationist!  The world is a constantly changing place – climate (yes Donald, it is!), culture, technology, language – as they say the only constant is change!  I love that.  Everyday there’s something new to discover, something new to experience, to learn and to enjoy.  To me these 3 sentences are all about sticking your head in the sand, like and Emu, and living in the past, a rosy coloured past where everything was wonderful and live was just…better.

Bollocks, it wasn’t better – it was different.

The first sentence is one of the most popular statements you see/hear from older people about how the children of today spent their lives in a digital world, not communicating with each other.

Wrong!!  Today’s youth communicate far more and with far more people that has previously been possible.

OK, I know that not all of it is good but to say they aren’t communicating is just silly – they’re just communicating in different ways than their parents did, and their grandparents before them!

The second sentence, or fallacy, to give it a more useful name has been around for years – well since the television (for my younger readers that’s the big screen in the living room that you stream Netflix on) became popular and widely available in the 1960’s.

This paragraph, from “Clare” writing on the Smallpiece Trusts website, sums the situation perfectly.

This was one of the usual threats used by mother when I was a child. I never believed her, really, but I did sit a little further back from the screen every time she said it. Then when I became a mother, I decided that my daughter would never watch television. She’d only eat organic green food (while sitting nicely at the table, obvs), never ever lay eyes on a tablet and never see a mobile phone. Judging by the way my daughter chatters away into the remote control and the face she made when she first tasted broccoli (below), I can safely say I’m losing a few of these battles.

Once again we see the parent/child

 

The third sentence is a quote by Marcus Tullius Cicero, who lived 106 BC – 43 BC. A Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, and writer who vainly tried to uphold republican principles in the final civil wars that destroyed the Roman Republic. His writings include books of rhetoric, orations, philosophical and political treatises, and letters. He is remembered in modern times as the greatest Roman orator and the innovator of what became known as Ciceronian rhetoric…and in his day it was spot on.

And even then he was ahead of his times.

In Europe (I say that even though our politicians and lunatic right are trying to make us leave…) we had to wait for a millenium before Gutenberg revolutionised printing so the masses could get access to the written word…which, interestingly is now the name of a web based foundation enabling free, online, access to thousands of books!  The technology simply didn’t exist, there weren’t that many libraries around and few of the population could have actually read a book anyway.

Think about this, cuneiform writing was only developed around 3,000BC and if we take things back even further the first cave painting are thought to be only 40,000 years old or so (there are a number of places where they have been found Spain, Indonesia, and Borneo).  When people first starting to use spoken language to communicate with each would have been much earlier but we, obviously, don’t have any proof of when that started!!

Suffice it so that at some point in time, way back in history (before flares were fashionable, obviously!), banging on rocks or banging rocks on something else would have been a means of communicating with other like minded individuals. To them the idea of writing might have been a real WTF moment – “how did they do that, wow, that’s really cool”, or perhaps it would have been a “don’t do that, your fingers will drop off and your wrists go all floppy” reaction.

This is really all about attitudes to new technology and the best summation of that I can think of comes from a book – yes a book that was printed and you could, like, pick it up and it had pages which you’d be told off for folding down the corner of to remember how far you’d got! – called Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore – yes children you can still buy it on Amazon, although there is a Kindle version, oh and an Audible one as well 🙂

It was all about selling new technology and it grouped people and markets into stages of technology adoption – hey even silver surfers get social media these days!  The 5 types/stages of adoption are as follows – from fastest to slowest:

  • Innovators – these are the people who think stuff up, who break new ground, adopt new ways of doing things. The love the technology pure and simple – even if it isn’t that practical yet.
  • Early Adopters – these are the people who see what the innovators have come up with a go wow I want it.  Not only that they tend to evangelise of the benefits of the change, rather than technology/process itself.
  • Early Majority – this lot need to know that it works, maybe some one they know already has it and says it’s really good. They like reviews – they’re the Tripadvisor generation.
  • Late Majority – this lot are only prepared to adopt something when it’s been around quite a while, it’s really easy to get it and the price has probably dropped significantly.
  • Laggards (also known as Luddites) – this bunch either aren’t interested in what’s new or are actually afraid of it.  A lot of the statements you read about the harm that new stuff can cause is from fear – from a lack of understanding, from ignorance.

So that’s why you get so many different attitudes to technology, and anything that’s new in fact, and phones and the way they are used is just the latest form of communication.  Much of that communication is in digital form and uses social media, and if you thought that 20 million people watching a TV programme in the UK was large, check out the user bases below – data from Statista:

Taking Facebook as an example, of that total of over 2.2 billion users more than 1 billion are using their mobile phones to communicate. and well over half of all Google search is now conducted on mobile devices.

So are young people spending too long on their phones?

No, the mobile device/phone is the portal to the world wide web, to knowledge, to entertainment – the communication channel of choice – just like those rocks were millenia ago.

..but you do have to wonder what comes next…will Virtual Reality still have a “social” means of communication or will people become more insular – we’ll just have to wait and see.

 

Embarrassed? You should be!

Of course this is a Brexit post – how could it not be after the omnishambles of the past 2 years, culminating in a media frenzy about something we all knew was going to happen weeks before it finally DID happen!

Yeah right – you should be embarrassed, in fact we should ALL be embarrassed for allowing this f*kcfest to happen.

  • David Cameron – the weak one who started this off because he couldn’t hack it and couldn’t manage the right wing of his party.
    • It was supposed to be the springboard for a smooth and successful referendum campaign. In reality, David Cameron’s EU renegotiation was a great miscalculation that helped pave the way for voters to reject EU membership. Most significantly, the much-anticipated deal failed to sway members of his own Cabinet, while also highlighting the EU’s inflexibility on the free movement of people principle. Rather than create the momentum for a comfortable victory, the renegotiation storyline petered out as the official pro-EU campaign got stuck repeating messages about economic doom after Brexit.
    • And believe it or not Cameron still isn’t prepared to take his share of the blame!
  • The multitude of politicians who lied to the electorate about what they were supposed to be voting for, and then continued to do so during the 2 years they wasted not coming up with a solution – not to mention wasting a lot of money at the same time!
    • “Had we acted decisively on Day 1, we would have known where we stood and instead of frittering away the past 18 months negotiating with a hidebound hegemony we could have put all our energies into negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).”
    • “Brexit preparations have considerably increased the number of civil servants.  For Defra, Home Office and HMRC, Brexit will effectively reverse the reductions in the size of the civil service since 2010. In fact, half of the money spent on Brexit so far has gone on new staff.”
  • The media that allowed this to go on without challenging these shysters.
  • And anyone out there who voted for Brexit – basically we’re talking about the racists in the country – plain and simple – you’re racists!
    • People voted to leave EU because they feared immigration

Fundamentally this is why YOU need to be embarrassed – because you’re a racist (if you voted to leave)!

Oh, sorry – you don’t think you’re a racist?

Well have a read of this article from thecreative.cafe called 10 signs you’re a racist.  Well, how many of those apply to you?

Furthermore a survey for the Guardian, published in December 2018, including 1,000 people from minority ethnic backgrounds (out of a total of 3,000 people) found they were consistently more likely to have faced negative everyday experiences – all frequently associated with racism – than white people in a comparison poll. The survey asked people to consider their response to a series of scenarios:

  • Being overlooked in a job application process or for promotion at work in a manner that felt unfair
  • Being mistaken for a member of staff in a restaurant, shop or hotel etc
  • Being refused entrance or asked to leave a restaurant, bar or club for no good reason
  • Someone at work, university or school treating me differently because of my clothing, hairstyle or general appearance
  • A stranger being abusive or rude to me in public

In every instance BAME people were more likely to have suffered from these than white respondents.

Our organs of state are institutionally racist – hey, the claim that policing practice in the UK is institutionally racist was widely accepted after the Macpherson Report at the end of last century.  BTW, parliament has just launched an inquiry to see how things have changed in the past 20 years, yeah right, I think the current farrago (I said farrago not arsehole!) shows we don’t really need that new inquiry, we could answer the question now – not very much!

This whole Brexit shenanigans seems to be a fantastic missed opportunity and a damning indictment on our politicians and indeed, the British public.

There’s nothing wrong with renegotiating a trade deal, or a political alignment – things change, needs and wants change – but surely at the centre there needs to be some acceptance of mutual beneficiality, of trying to co-exist with our neighbours.  After all there are 7 billion people on this planet – we’re only 60 million of them – why do we consider that we’re right (all the damn time)?

We should all be embarrassed of where we currently are and we should try and do something about it!

You can support the “BOLLOCKS TO BREXIT ” campaign to stop the Brexit madness that has consumed the UK by:

I hate lawyers. Well some of them anyway and so should you.

Agreeing with Ian Hislop?  Blimey – I didn’t expect that would ever happen, I am getting old 😦

I should say that I don’t hate all lawyers but there are a few types of lawyer that, frankly, the world could do without.  The first group are those who decide that they need to go into politics – 15% of all MPs were either barristers or solicitors.  This lot just need to go away now! Between them they’re responsible for the current Brexit mess we find ourselves in – and plenty of other messes as well!

This group is particularly irritating because they think they’re doing good when actually they are screwing things up for everybody except their rich friends!  Hateful, lying, toadies – the lot of them!!

The second group are those ambulance chasing Injury 4 You type of low-life shysters.  There is one TV advert that features a woman in a shopping centre who manages to slip and injure herself at the top of an escalator.  Hmmm if I remember correctly her view is obscured by a host of shopping bags she’s carrying.  I mean c’mon, really?  Are you suggesting that it’s the shopping centre’s fault?  That really does take the biscuit!

Here’s the google ad for one of these leeches:

Injury Lawyers UK. Specialists | Check How Much You Can Claim‎

 Rating for russellworthsolicitors.co.uk: 4.8 – 159 reviews
Free Claim Assessment. Discover Your Rights Now. No Win No Fee. Call Us Today.
Check how much you can claim? Clearly there’s nothing like the Hippocratic Oath that lawyers have to observe. Weasels – the lot of them.  How their advertising meets the ASA standards – Legal, DECENT, Honest Truthful – I just don’t know.  There are loads of these kind, peddling their services to the weak and the vulnerable – those desperate for money.  They’re one of the reasons that your and my insurance premium has been rising over the past few years – their behaviour is encouraging spurious claims and that results in higher policy prices.
What they do for you?  What they do is for themselves – not for you.  They aren’t charities they’re out for a quick buck.  Avoid them like the plague….  They’re so heinous that the law had to be changed to stop them profiteering..
The Civil Liability Bill has officially received Royal Asset today (December 20) marking a reform of the way England and Wales addresses whiplash claims and the framework around which the personal injury discount rate is set. Its aim is to reduce the “excessive” compensation claims impacting the NHS.
See I told you!!!
And now the third and final group that need to be eliminated – PPI claim insurance companies.

‘VULTURES’ Ambulance-chasing’ PPI lawyers slammed by car finance expert for now hounding mis-sold PCP deals

Banks face ‘shockwaves’ with up to £18bn in PPI payouts</<blockquote>
PPI has ‘turned portions of UK into fraudsters‘ – bank chief

Possibly the worst of the 3. And they are allowed to bombard us with their advertising, pleading with us not to miss out on up to £7k.  They really shouldn’t allow it – but they do – on TV, on the radio…it’s everywhere.  Even though there are people out there who deserve the support of good lawyers to get their money back there are standards that should be applied and followed – by all parties!

Martin Lewis, founder of the Money Saving Expert website, said banks had lied to customers that certain types of insurance were compulsory, yet no banker had been prosecuted over the issue.  He tweeted: ‘Bank’s [SIC] PPI selling was a systemic, deliberate, scripted, protection racket to missell £30bn+ of insurance. ‘

Lots of “No win no fee” claims out there but buyer beware.  Stories of claims companies wanting 40% of the payout are not unusual!  Like I said earlier – they aren’t in to help you – just to help themselves, and the worst thing about this is that as soon as this peak is over, we pass the deadline for claims, they’ll be gone, moving onto something else, some other group of people who think that a quick buck is their right.
These kinds of lawyers are simply not fit to bear the name lawyer.  They’re con men, disgusting low life who should be shunned by society – they’ve reached the level of disdain that we used to reserve for estate agents!!

The folly of phone design

So, tell me, why after the development of phone design over the past 20 years that has claimed to make them so robust e.g. Gorilla Glass, ceramic backs and the like are they so bloody fragile?

My Samsung Galaxy S8+ is actually cracked in 2 places on the front and the back has several cracks running the full length.   I was quoted £250 to replace them but as it turns out to be an “International” version the company wouldn’t touch it.  I’m not even aware of how it got so damaged.  The only thing I can think of is that it came into contact with something else in my trouser pockets – possibly a key or possible a coin.  I’ll admit to having dropped it a couple of times but on both occasions it has either been fine or been protected by the case I have had to purchase to protect it since it got cracked!!

This from Tom’s Guide – Phone Drop Test results 2018:

Good news: Chances are, your phone will survive a 6-foot fall onto wood and, if it’s lucky enough to land on its edge, withstand drops onto concrete with minimal damage.

Bad news: If you don’t have a screen protector, there’s a really good chance something’s going to break.

It seems that the Motorola Moto Z2 Force was the winner – in fact, Motorola guarantees that the screen on the Moto Z2 Force won’t crack – and in Tom’s test’s – it didn’t! – but the rest suffered in varying degrees.  Sadly they aren’t planning on producing a Force version of the Moto Z3 – shame on you Lenovo!

So what else is happening in the world of screens and screen protection – improving that area is absolutely key.  Well the current leader in this area has to be Corning and their “Gorilla Glass” product which has been lauded around the globe by just about every phone manufacturer.

Visually stunning, incredibly tough Corning® Gorilla® Glass enables today’s sleekest smartphone and tablet designs, while providing exceptional damage resistance to the scratches and bumps of everyday use. Gorilla Glass is sensitive enough for today’s most sophisticated touch applications, and is available with an easy-to-clean coating.

Hmm the scratches and bumps of everyday use…I’d like to see their definition of that!  As millions of phone owners will testify Gorilla Glass is about as robust as a paper bag! Samsung did announce in July 2018 that they’d developed a bendable and unbreakable screen – I’d settle for unbreakable – the folding phone is interesting but not essential – an unbreakable screen IS essential!  and why do I say that?  Well it should be obvious – just look at the sumptuous photo shots that are being used to sell us this year’s latest phone – just check out those curves – I mean phaaw, c’mon!  Manufacturers have invested billions in designing “sexy”, “cool”, phones but sadly they also appear to have built in “built in obsolescence” as well.  I shouldn’t really be surprised.  However as the price of these phones skyrockets it is inevitable that replacement cycles will grow longer – so c’mon guys make the bloody things last better!

In some products’ life-cycle the manufacturers can make as much profit from marketing the accessories as they can from the main device itself but the ludicrously high cost of today’s phones (and no I don’t buy the precious metals argument I bit!) is such that it wouldn’t be worth the issues of product inventory management – lots of low value accessories is a real pain to manage!!  And easy to get wrong!

So please, will someone get the cost of producing Micro-LED screens down so we can start using them, thus saving power (and therefore eliminating the current issue of running out of juice) and at the same time due to their power efficiency and increased brightness can we have plastic coating applied which stops them cracking so damned easily – please?

What are Micro-LEDs I hear you ask? Well this – thanks to Anroidpit.com for the words!

Micro LEDs is a new technology still in its infancy, but it has great potential to become the next big thing on the display market. Micro LED displays work similarly to OLED panels, but are even thinner. They consist of inorganic semiconductors, specifically a gallium-nitrite combination. Like OLEDs, these are light-emitting diodes, but they are much smaller.

Backlighting is not necessary with micro-LEDs, nor is a polarization filter required. The glass layer above the panel can also be slimmed even further. The brightness per watt, which simplifies the efficiency of the displays, is even better than that of OLED panels and beats LCD by far. With the same brightness, a micro-LED display requires only half as much energy as an OLED screen, in some cases even less. The extremely small diodes also allow higher resolutions on the same surface – a 4K smartwatch would be conceivable with micro LEDs. Last but not least, micro LED screens are not as susceptible to pixel burn-in as OLED displays.

And as wireless charging is the de facto standard these days let’s just make sure that the phone back will allow inductance charging, avoid unnecessary fingerprint smearing and oh yes – stop bloody cracking!!

So c’mon Lenovo, Samsung, OnePlus etc etc – let’s see all of this in the new Z4, S10, 7T etc etc- I know it’s CES time – so go for it guys!

Charity begins in central government

One of the annoying things about daytime TV is the number of charity adverts.  You can’t go a single ad break without at least one!  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against charities, well scrub any that uses religion, but generally I think that being charitable is a wonderful thing.

But why is the focus for these charities to put the burden of supporting them onto the British public?  The answer is clear – it’s because the UK government has decided that they’d rather give large sums of money to their cronies in the private sector than provide a decent range of public services.

And frankly I think that is unacceptable.

It is, however, a complex issue

  • Since 2010 healthcare expenditures have declined, down to 7.1 percent GDP by 2020.
  • Nearly 12 million UK residents aged 65 years and over.
  • The government has increasingly pushed the burden on local authorities – here’s just one clause from the latest guidance they issued:

To ensure that the pressure on council tax is kept down, the net additional cost of all new burdens placed on local authorities (including parishes, police and fire and rescue authorities) by central Government must be assessed and fully and properly funded.

…and by properly funded they mean dumped onto you. Ensuring the pressure is kept down my arse.  The Conservatives are openly the party of “small government” – lower taxes – more money in your pocket!  Allegedly!!  However the statistics published each budget day seem to show that the people who end benefiting most from Tory policies are the better off…  Basically the people who least need to benefit!!

“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is an aphorism due to Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Just this morning (19/12/2018) it seems that the entire BBC Breakfast programme was based around the issue of Special Educational Needs – and that’s brilliant.  But the reason they’ve chosen to do that is because the investment in providing the service from central government simply isn’t good enough.  The current Tories in government would rather invest £1.5bn in ensuring that a bunch of rapid racists and bigots in Northern Ireland would support them so they could form the government than paying for 66,000 qualified registered nurses! And look where that got them – a total and utter waste of money.  Oh and guess what, the current shortfall in nurses means that the government has to pay another £1.5bn on temporary staff.

..and to compound matters the Brexit vote has also contributed to a growing recruitment crisis. Since the referendum there has been a 28% increase in the number of EU nurses leaving Britain, which could exacerbate the problem, said the report. Overseas applications for nursing roles has fallen by 87% in the past 12 months!  Didn’t I see something about the Chancellor allocating £4.2bn for EU exit preparations…yesI damn well did!

These examples are just symptomatic of a policy of reducing, or rather minimising central government expenditure.

Look, I know we have an ageing population and health and pensions are time-bombs waiting to happen but making the old, the infirm and those who were just born that way suffer is wrong – plain wrong.  Society has to do better and governments must take the lead.

I’m of complex politics – decidedly left wing – but I believe in a mixed economy. I don’t believe in privatising the NHS – healthcare should be free at the point of need, irrespective of how much money you have, but it could be run much leaner – less need for “management” and targets – more focus on doing stuff than measuring it or sitting in committees deciding on which policy to adopt – just keep people healthy!

I’m all in favour of nationalising the utility companies – I mean I’m sorry but HTF does Scottish Energy/Scottish Power survive – the worst customer service, the most unintelligent staff – and the railways and then doing some intelligent planning and putting some intelligent people in charge of running them and making sure that none of the contracts gets awarded to Tory cronies like Carillion.   (Apparently the government awards £200bn worth of public contracts to private companies EVERY year!)

Subsequently the government is to bring in tougher contract terms for outsourcers following Carillion’s collapse – or closing the stable door after the horse has bolted as we call that!

Frankly I think that charity should be nationalised and most definitely secularised. We have an overseas aid budget which is functionally designed, not to aid those in most need but, to smooth the path for the Tories rich friends to do deals with 3rd world countries so they can fill their pockets with even more money!

Since 1980 BBC Children in Need has raised over £1bn, Comic Relief has raised over £1bn.   The generosity of the British public is amazing, and legendary – but think what could be done with the £56bn that HS2 is currently forecast to cost – one estimate actually puts it nearer to £80bn.

Just think how many people we could help – here and abroad – if our government used our money better….

Seems I’m not the only person thinking aloing these lines…

Just done some sums. £4,200,000,000 would pay for 146,000 band 5 nurses for a year. Or, it would pay for 138,000 police officers for a year. Or we could have 146,000 newly qualified teachers. Oh, the things we could spend £4.2 billion on. Instead we’re spending it on brexit.

Today we are allocating £2 billion of funding to help departments prepare for #Brexit. The Treasury has provided more than £4.2 billion for Brexit preparations since 2016. gov.uk/government/new…

And more to the point I wouldn’t have to watch those bloody annoying ads for charities, here and abroad, scrabbling for money, money that that is being wasted by government who are simply abrogating the issue – forcing us to pick up the baton for solving problems that can only be solved through government intervention.

Matt Johnson of The The said it right back in his song The Heartland in 2006

This is the land, where nothing changes,
the land of red buses & blue blooded babies,
This is the place, where pensioners are raped,

& the hearts are being cut, from the welfare state,
Let the poor drink the milk, while the rich eat the honey,
Let the bums count their blessings, while they count the money

Read more: The The – Heartland Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Technology is great – when it’s smart and when it works!

I’m not sure if it’s because there’s tech all around us and we’ve had years and years of “plug and play” but I’d really like to understand the frustration I experience shortly after I get some new tech.  I mean why does so much tech take so much effort to get it working properly?  Well from research undertaken, whilst I was having my lunch, it appears that there are a range of factors/aggregation of said factors that can make human blood boil…

  1. Why doesn’t everybody use the same damn standard?
  2. Why is it sooooo difficult to set these things up in the first place?
  3. Why does the damn device keep losing its connection?
  4. Are things getting too complicated?
  5. Am I stupid?

For starters why is this so important?  Well…According to the report, “2018 Global Smart Home Market Forecast”, worldwide consumer spending on smart home devices, systems and services will total nearly $96 billion in 2018 and grow at 10% CAGR over the forecast period (2018 to 2023) to $155 billion. Adoption of smart speakers from Amazon and Google is boosting the market. – yikes!!

Now whether this is driven by the desire for us humans to have an easy life and achieving this by automating many of the hugely labour intensive chores at home (like playing music of turning on/off lights – Hey Alexa/Siri/Cortana/OK Google et al) or if it’s some quasi-ethical, anti-fossil fuel, tree-hugging instinct to monitor your energy use that is emerging (possibly only really amongst “millenials”) it appears to be a fact – the smart home market is growing apace!!

But what proportion of the population considers themselves to be “techies”?  I dunno -but back in 2013 IDG helpfully offered the following “10 Signs You’re Probably a Techie” – check your selves out – be my guest.  I consider myself to be one, I’m an early adopter who loves the latest “shiny-shiny”; gadgets and “cool-tools” – but I still find it a challenge to integrate my latest fave piece of tech!

Standards:

When I worked in the hi-fi world (hold on to your horses but we’re talking in the last millenium – yikes I’m old!!) there was a term that was used – “super-compatability”.  This meant that your devices not only connected up, but they played together – beautifully.  Sonic perfection with the minimum of fuss (although a not insignificant level of expenditure was required to achieve this aural nirvana). However, today we have a plethora of disparate operating standards across multiple operating systems and each designed to maximise the profitability of each brand’s “eco-system”!   Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Xiaomi, ZigBee, Philips, the list just grows and grows. Allegedly you can get some of these to talk to each other – you note I say allegedly!!

In fact it is far more complex than just that.  The Internet of Things organisation in the UK has helpfully provided a wealth of information for those of you who are the true connected home nerds:

Powered by Digital Catapult and Future Cities Catapult, IoTUK was a programme of activities that sought to advance the UK’s global leadership in the Internet of Things (IoT) and increase the adoption of high quality IoT technologies and services throughout businesses and the public sector.

IoTUK was a national programme designed to accelerate the UK’s Internet of Things (IoT) capability, launched as part of the Government’s £32m investment in IoT.

Just check out their “IoT Standards and Protocols” – an overview of protocols involved in Internet of Things devices and applications. Help clarify with IoT layer technology stack and head-to-head comparisons. Yep, that’s what I thought too!  No wonder it’s difficult.

Difficult to set up

Remember Plug n Play?

Plug and Play (PnP) is a capability developed by Microsoft for its Windows 95 and later operating systems that gives users the ability to plug a device into a computer and have the computer recognize that the device is there. The user doesn’t have to tell the computer.

Yeah right, that sounds cool.  Sounds perfect for the non-coder early adopter such as myself!!  And maybe, just maybe, you can connect your new device to your home wifi network without too much problem – although if like me you’ve wasted money on TP-link smart plugs you’ll know that’s not a given – just check out those reviews – ouch!  Even if you’re fortunate to achieve that there’s no guarantee that, just for the hell of it, the device won’t suddenly decide it can’t be arsed to work and whatever you try it will just sullenly refuse to re-connect.  Shocking waste of money team – don’t do it.

Even Amazon – the accepted leader in the home automation world – still doesn’t make it easy on you.  Have you read my earlier post on the subject – or this one – they don’t like being criticised, do they?    I’ve got plenty of Echo devices, fire Sticks etc etc but if I wanted them to control the turning on and off of my TV/satellite box I need something else – a Harmony Hub. so I’ve got one but it was so damn difficult to get it to stay connected I switched it off.  Plus you had to say stuff like “Alexa, tell Harmony to turn on the TV”!

Here are the instructions for setting up your Harmony Hub

#update!!!  I have just discovered that as of November 10th (no idea which year!)…

 On Friday November 10th, Logitech Harmony introduced a deeper and more natural integration with your Amazon Alexa voice experience. Play, pause, stop, fast forward, adjust the volume and tune to channel numbers, all without having to say, “ask Harmony to”. Update to the “Harmony” Alexa skill to make use of these new features.

Well I’ll just have to try switching it back on and see 🙂 apparently all you have to say now is….

“Alexa, turn on sports” to power on your TV, set your stereo to surround sound, lower your window shades and even set your table lamps to your team colors.

Stable connections

I’ve already highlighted the propensity of the TP-Link “smart” plug to lose the plot but that’s not all – my broadband router, as supplied GigaClear offers the poorest of home wifi capability, although it does offer guidance on how to improve things via its website.

  1. Powerline ethernet:  I tried that and as soon as I switched it on the router just dropped ALL internet connectivity – thanks for that one!
  2. Direct ethernet connection: Er, isn’t wifi supposed to be much easier, and no messy cables around the house…
  3. Wireless access points.  They actually suggested I purchased and intalled a slave router.  I did. Trouble was every time we had a power cut (I live in a rural area…with no good BT broadband…hence using fibre from GigaClear…) the slave router was quicker faster and betteer than the GigaClear one so..all the wifi devices connected ti ti – but of course it was a slave so it didn’t have it’s own internet connection – doh!
  4. They said avoid wifi extenders – I haven’t and thank god I didn’t although I still get the odd drop out
  5. Their final option was using a different router – see 3!

So it’s clear that much of the issues are a mix of crap tech (the product) or crap service (broadband/electricity).  If you thought that broadband over fibre was stable – think again.  Here’s how Virgin Media and BT have been doing over the past 24 hours (live data so it will change) – so there’s still a way to go to provide the kind of stability that is required to cope with the flaky technology that we’re being sold!!

Too complex

At the beginning of this year (2018) Nilay Patel wrote a piece on the Verge called “Everything is too complicated” and in it he said:

Think of the tech industry as being built on an ever-increasing number of assumptions: that you know what a computer is, that saying “enter your Wi-Fi password” means something to you, that you understand what an app is, that you have the desire to manage your Bluetooth device list, that you’ll figure out what USB-C dongles you need, and on and on.

And you know what?  He isn’t the only one!

I could go on…and on, and on, and on!

Too stupid?

Am I really the reverse of Marvin the Paranoid android?  Do I have a brain the size of a pea?  I think NOT!

“Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they tell me to take you up to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction? ‘Cos I don’t.”

Don’t get me wrong-  I’m no genius – but I’ve got an above average IQ (c.140 – whatever that means!) and I can grasp quite complex concepts like “Cognitive Dissonance“, “Bounded Rationality” and “Black Holes” and answer equally difficult questions such as “Why am I here?”, “Who is Linda Clayton?” and “What is The Infinite Improbability Drive” so I’m not a total idiot – I just have problems getting my tech to talk to each other and the outside world!

The answers are, btw, a. Because I damn well am, b. a figment of someone’s imagination and c. an example of Douglas Adams’ genius.

 

 

 

 

 

Bloated apps or developer diets?

Here’s a thought – have you seen just how much of your phone’s memory is taken up by your apps?  I think you may be staggered to see that it’s a pretty big chunk of your total available memory!  In fact have you noticed how big some of these apps are getting?  Here’s just a selection of the “A” apps on my phone.

  • Adobe Clip – 108MB
  • Amazon Alexa – 271MB
  • Amazon Shopping – 191MB
  • Anchor – 142MB
  • AutoTrader – 95MB

5 apps accounting for 807MB – pretty bad, but it get’s worse, much worse!

  • Chrome – the web browser from Google accounts for 730MB – on it’s own,
  • then there’s Google, the search bit – another 606MB!!
  • But of course the real memory hogger is, yes you’ve guessed it, Facebook:
    • 1.12GB, for the Facebook app itself,
    • 1.38GB for Instagram – and then there’s the separate Messenger app
    • at this point I went ballistic and installed the Messenger Lite version – a mere 43MB – hooray!!

Just doing some research on Google and discovering that back in the deep, dark , past of 2010, (yikes – very much the dark ages!!) most Android apps were approximately 2MB – yes you read that right 2MB!!  It seems that as phones have “improved” over time apps have expanded to take up the available space….

It’s getting crazy and, boy oh boy, the almost continuous updating of apps is sucking up my bandwidth – 23 apps recently updated!  Just look at Facebook’s history – here is its timeline as detailed by Wikipedia – boy was 2017 a busy year, and just checking on my mobile to discover that I’m on version 198.0.0.53.101!!

I wonder if these app developers have a deal with the mobile networks.  you know they get a cut of the data charges!

If they’re not then they’re missing out on a trick AND a load of dosh!  I also find it very interesting that at a time when Google is penalising websites for the time it takes them to load it is also producing massively bloated mobile apps that do just that – take a long time to load!!

I wish….there’s another trend that is irritating and that’s the decision by some of the major device manufacturers to embed some apps into the OS – so you can never fully delete them, only stop them from functioning – they’ll still hog your memory though!  I moved away from Apple ,many years ago because of their walled garden approach but Samsung you’re doing it too now!!

So, is that it?  Are we destined to a life of feature-rich, over-bloated apps that continuously update – or is there another way?  Thankfully there is!!

I’ve already mentioned that I installed the Messenger Lite app – it does the job perfectly well and takes up a fraction  of the memory of the full-fat version.  So when i found this list I thought – yippee…

  • Google Go
  • Gmail Go
  • YouTube Go
  • Files Go
  • Facebook Lite
  • Messenger Lite
  • Skype Lite
  • Twitter Lite
  • LinkedIn Lite

But sadly the Google apps aren’t compatible with my device, in fact none of my devices!  Hmm I smell a rat here- but actually I’m just misinformed – these apps are for Android Go devices – bummer!  If I can run a Facebook or Messenger Lite app on my Samsung Galaxy S8+ why doesn’t google step up?  I think we should be told!!

More digging and finally some progress…here’s a starter for 10 – a browser with a size of just 400-500Kb – sign me up!!  Now I’m on the hunt for a few more small footprint apps…email, other social media apps…. and some more

So now it’s time for a play, to see if any of these small footprint apps can deliver a suitable user experience…