Monday, April 28, 2008

Clash of the Titans

Sometimes 2 national institutions will go head to head. Sometimes leading newspapers known for journalistic integrity, researched articles and the inside scoop will try to outdo eachother so that they can increase their circulation whilst revealing truths and scandals to their eager readers.

Luckily, The Daily Express have none of these troublesome things to bother them so just went with the 'We are 10p cheaper than the Daily Mail!' approach to circulation growth. There is a lot of subtext in that statement, to the trained eye it reads as follows:

'Like racism? Like barely literate reactionary Bile? Like ill informed opinions written by sub-simian, hate filled hacks? - Get all that for 10p less than your usual source but also with news about a long dead rich woman!'

At least they're honest. They aren't claiming that they have anything worth reading in their pages anymore, merely that it is so worthless they are having to undercut one of the lowest forms of gutter press this country has to offer. I just think Richard Desmond is missing an opportunity here. It would appear that the express is going to stop trying to be seen as a respectable paper (laughable I know, but some people really see it that way!), as such Richard Desmond is probably missing a trick - as Britain's most successful pornographer he could do lucrative tie-ins with such classy titles as 'Big Ones' and 'Asian Babes'. He could no doubt swing some free advertising on his TV channels dedicated to 'the arts'.

Maybe other papers cold start to follow suit. The Daily Mail could just have an 'odds and evens' page system. On every odd numbered page they could print in massive lettering 'BRITAIN'S GOING TO HELL IN A HAND CART!' and on the even numbered pages they can serialise Mein Kampf, perhaps interspersing the pages with cartoons of swarthy skinned foreigners stealing our jobs and marrying our women.

The Sun would become just a random assortment of words last used in a Carry-On film printed on a pair of novelty fake breasts.

Of course that would mean you'd have to make The Independent out of hemp and print it with the same stuff you use for henna.

I really hope this '10p less than the Mail' works for the Express. Maybe the papers will enter into a price war that will drive them out of business. Either that or the Mail will start to be free. Actually that wouldn't work either, The Daily Mail for free is called The Metro isn't it?

Sorry, this one got away from me. I just love the fact that a National Newspaper (and I use the term loosely) is selling itself based entirely on price. It's like battery farmed news vomit.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Work/Life Balance

I've not been as bloggy as I'd like of late, things are getting interesting at work. I'm not sure where things are with the whole Commercial-in -Confidence thing but there are changes ahead for the company but more importantly for my project and even MORE importantly than that - ME!

As things stand things are looking good and work is becoming very interesting and enjoyable for me again. It does mean I've been spending an awful lot of time outside work hours at work of late - it's one of those 'the only time I can get any work done is when I am not supposed to be at work' situations. This is fine, it’s not a complaint (thought I'd try a change) because it means in the long run I am going to be making my life easier. Also, I have things to look forward to in May!

April has been something of an arid month where I have been missing the moist soup of social activity. With the exception of a work night out which ended in the usual non-fun 'can't feel my face' way, I've pretty much done very little.

May and June look far more promising - check out this ocean of rich social broth:

Next week: Emi has said she is coming down next weekend so I'm going to look for something interesting for us to do that she might like - though its a bit of a pain because she likes the outdoors and many of the outdoorsy attractions aren't open in April/May. I am hoping the weather is good so it won't matter and we can just go somewhere (did I mention I have a car now? :p) NOTE: This is the only one that doesn't say 'this IS happening' rather it says 'Emi says this is happening'. I've been here 3 years, I'll believe it when I see it! lol!

10th- Hannah comes down the week after for a long weekend - I think we are going to see Les Mis again, this time in the cheap seats with Nick, Andrew and their partners. It'll be another Matinee so may follow this up with some dinner if we can be bothered.

17th- Vicky is going to cook a few of us her much vaunted Paella - she's been going on about it for months, while I know it will be nice it's great fun insisting its nothing but Uncle Ben's with some frozen prawns and I don't know what all the fuss is about.

24th - Visiting Ric Lowe in Southampton - this has been postponed 4 times so far. Each tiem something comes up - this weekend I was supposed to visit but had double booked with a parental visit. Now that has been cancelled too because I have to go to exotic Bridgend for a meeting on Monday. Oh yeah, its all Jetsetting in my job!

31st - Pedro Ramirez, International Latin Lover, is coming to visit me all the way from the tropical paradise of North Wales. I imagine we'll drink some.

June - I bailed on Glastonbury, even though I know I'd have a great time because of the people I would have gone with and the cool stuff you can do there - the line up is pathetic. Jay-ze may very well be big in the States but he is no Glastonbury headliner. I suspect Emily Eavis is desperately trying to appear like she has her finger on the pulse of the 'yoof'. Elbow and Kings of Leon are ace though.

I am still going to try getting a ticket for Download though, that’s the weekend of the 15th June. They have a brilliant line up and an excellent stage-split. They have the 'Really should be dead by now stage' featuring KISS, Judas Priest and Motorhead. The other two stages feature The Offspring and Biffy Clyro and the Lost Prophets & Jimmy Eat World respectively. The whole experience is supposed to be brilliant at Download too, so should be a fun time - as opposed to Reading which I always here bad things about - even though they have a mind blowing line up this year.

Anyway, social broth - As I am (hopefully) going to Download, I am going to take some time off either side and travel home for some time either side of the weekend, I haven't spent more than a day or two at home since about my 2nd year at Uni and will be nice to do so. May combine that time off with some visits to other friends but the plan right now is to go home. This also means that I will be travelling to this Rocktopia with Rich, Rosie and my brother Waffle.

This lets me kill about 4 birds with one stone - seeing friends and family at home, catching up with people I barely have contact with lately over the weekend, not having to test whether Eddie is capable of driving across a field as Rich will be doing the driving and giving me some bloody time off work!

Oh yeah, and I am going to Canada in July for Nick's wedding. Busy summer!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Worse than Flash Developers?

There is only one thing more pitiful than someone who thinks that Flash is in anyway a suitable tool for building a website. That is the kind of weak-willed moron who, 6 months after lambasting a product, goes out and buys it.

This kind of hypocritical moron pales in comparison to the barely simian, magpie crossed idiot who slags off a phone, renews a contract with acompany he hates, then 6 months later decides he's had enough of the poor service and bails on the company he hates. They don't care of course, because he still has to pay that contract, and to cap it off he buys the phone he previously laid in to.

iMean really, iWould hate to be that guy. LuckiLy iWould never succumb to eviL marketing liKe that, especiAlly a few months before a new version of said phone was to be released.

i'M totaly not a fanboy. DefiNately not.

iFeel so dirty,

Friday, April 11, 2008

Feeling the flash-based Hate

You can always spot when a pure engineer has designed a User Interface to something, because he has made something that makes perfect sense to him and about 3 other people and to everyone else it is Greek. Except to Greeks, to whom it is more like an obscure Swahili dialect.

I used to think the solution to a lot of this kind of computey (it's definitely a word, don't bother looking it up! trust the internet!) thing would be to get some arty types in to sort out the design. Unfortunately this theory results in the Graphics Designer. Who makes everything. EVERYTHING in Flash!


OK, so what's wrong with Flash? Makes the site look all pretty and glossy right? Yeah. Now try and find something out about what you want. Wrong page? Click the back button - oh wait! The thing you clicked took you to a page that has magically removed the back button! And anything else useful that 15 years of Web Browser design and innovation has produced!

Here's my favourite - go to a website that is made of Flash and I guarantee that 1 out of 4 times the smarmy gobshite has hidden all of the menu items inside flash images. So not only does the thing start off more painful than an exploding appendix, you have to actively hunt for the things that will take you to the places that you don't want to go to anyway! - If I buy a novel I don't expect to have to figure out how to open it in a special way and then be presented with Magic Eye version of the bloody text! Use that principle and we'll be fine OK?

Here's another thing - you know how all modern and competent web browsers support tabbed browsing? So you can right click and select 'open in new tab' - so you can perhaps open up the details of a variety of products in one window? Not in flash - no sir! It’s left click or nothing! And if that's not the page you want? Right back to the bastard beginning you go!

There is also the propensity for showing you lots of stylish angles and lighting of different things - because you know, when I am in the market for a watch, the most important thing to me is how the face looks when catching the light of a log fire that I also don't own.

Show me a picture of the thing! Show a picture of it on someone's wrist. Tell me how deep I can theoretically go before water damage ensues, despite the fact that I will panic whenever there is moisture anywhere near it! Tell me how much it is; tell me where I can order and how. Do it now and do it quickly or I'm going somewhere else.

Evidently the watch example is from today and unsurprisingly, the more expensive the brand, the more obscure and unworkable the website.

The people who order these sites have to take some responsibility here, as has been pointed out to me - customers usually order things they have no clue about despite the best advice. This is especially true in IT. People want Flash because it is pretty and looks expensive. On the other hand, the designers have to take some responsibility - just because they are forced to work in flash does not mean they have to disappear up their own arses trying to be overly clever.

If you are going to commission a website to be designed, let me let you in on a secret. No one on this earth will take you seriously if you tell the poor sap who has to make it to do so in Flash. It is filth and should be left to the purposes for which it is best suited - funny online games involving chainsaws and zombies.

Now please excuse me, I have to go have an embolism. Or possibly an aneurysm. You get the idea.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Was it really worth 10 million?

To find out what everyone already knew and had stopped caring about?

There is a lot made of 'public interest'. In cases like this I have no respect for 'public interest'. They fall in to 2 categories - 'Nutter Diana obsessive desparate to forge some tenuous link with themselves and a dead traffic accident victim' and the usual ghoulish voyeurs.

Now 10 million pounds is a lot of money, it's nearly 8 billion US dollars*. For that i would want some real revelations, a bit more bng for my buck! None of this 'Diana Was Breathing Before She Died'** crap! I want 'Dodi was Mutant Robot Fiend Bent on Stealing the World's Custard Reserves' or something!

Pay 10k for a car, you'll get a Ford. Pay 100k and you'll get a whole lot of overcompensation, probably made in Italy. If tbhis inquest were a car then the salesmen saw us coming and sold us an '83 Reliant Robin as a 'classic car'.

I'm not saying all expensive court things should result in spectacular and fantastical outcomes I just think if you are going to spend so much money on engaging in such a worthless exercise in futility as this particular endeavou,r we should get something memorable out of it. And I don't mean a broken fountain.

So, in an effort to demonstrate what can be achieved for no money, I suggest we put together our own outcome. Answers on a postcard. Or, you know..... in th comments bit

*As I am avoiding the cheap 'Americans have no sense of Irony' jokes, I have to fall back on the 'Dollars are really weak' jokes. It's not my fault, its society.

**A genuine Diana story I saw on the BBC website once

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I'm British, I can't help it

We find it really funny when things go wrong for people. I laughed and laughed when the Patriots threw the Superbowl away, not least because I despise their coach.

Its not just all wanting smug, self satisfied, over confident people you want to see fall on their arse once in a while. 'Things going wrong' has positive connatations.

Look at Zimbabwe, nothing funny about that right? Horrendous human rights abuses, corruption, power mad leader. Horrible things. But you HAVE to appreiate the humour in the fact that the ruling party seem to be managing to lose a rigged election. A rigged election which THEY rigged! I mean that is a special kind of incompetence.

I think from the outside looking in it can be seen as a really bad cynicism and pessimism that speaks of misery and a desire for others to fail. I'm here to tell you that that really isn't it, it's just really funny when things go wrong. I can only speak for myself but with so many awful and horrific things in the world, you've got to take the laughs where you can find them.

As inspiring and amazing as human endeavour is, the depths of man's incompetence is equally awe inspiring, and there is nothing wrong with failing horribly. The attitude that 'to win is all' and 'failure is unacceptable' may be a nice aspirational thing to put on a poster, but that's not life is it? I forget who it was but I heard an American say once - 'Everyone in America says "Have a nice day". You guys don't do that because you know it's impossible to have an entirely nice day "have a nice 15 minutes" would be a lot more achievable'. It doesn't mean that we hate everything and everyone and want everyone to live in misery (OK, maybe I do but not everyone else!). It just means we laugh at life, or at least thats my take on it. I'll try and put all this into a single sentence.

I love it when things go wrong, because then I know that its not all just one big fix.

And its really really funny.

Good points about working at weekends

This isn't a whiny post, I am here, to an extent, by choice.

Good points?

1) I can actually get some work done without my job getting int he way
2) It's a lot easier to justify eating junk food at lunch time.

Thats pretty much all I got!

Irritatingly Insipid Introspection

I am developing an increasing love of alliteration can you tell?

Anyway, as the header says this is going to be a dull 'ME ME ME ME ME!' post, so feel free to skip it. I decided to write it after reading about Olivia's change in outlook after making a fairly major decision about moving back to the states.

I’m not sure how I'm going to start this, it may turn into a life story but hopefully I will catch myself and just keep the bits in about opinions and my behaviour. And it is all opinion and entirely based on the way that I've dealt with things in my own life and how I will continue to deal with them because that is what works for me.

So, let’s talk about ruts - we've all been in them, before I went to Uni I was in one for the best part of 6 years. Actually that's not true; it's more like 4 and a half. Point is, I was in a crappy job (with some part time jobs on top of that) living with my parents with little to no prospect of busting out of the rut I was in and no view of how I even COULD get out of it. That's the thing, it is easy to get into the psychological trap of believing you're in a situation that you have no control over and that you'll have to wait some time before you can make any changes.

It's that last part I always had a problem with, I can't make actual defined plans because they are always wildly unrealistic or require a certain amount of things to be in place first. This is why I generally fall over and go and do something else with most things. That is because most things fall into 3 categories in my world - Things That Don't Actually Matter, Things that Matter and Things I Can't Change. It's not really that simple but essentially that is the system. Most bad things in the 'Things that Don't Matter' box can be improved by changing something in the 'Things that Matter box' or by working around/ignoring or accepting something in the 'Things I Can't Change' box.

All categories gain airtime in my complaining, ranting and general joking though 'Things That Don't Matter' monopolise because that stuff is funnier.

OK, so now you've been blinded by my philosophy, let’s go back to the previous life where I was working a lot and making myself really very ill. I can't follow plans very well, I'm good at the beginning bit (sort of) when I am all enthusiastic and I am good at the very end bit but the middle bits are when I go make tacos or get distracted by The Thundercats or something. What I found worked for me was time limits - kind of the 'lets see how things go until X, if its still crap I am going to do this thing'. Where 'this thing' is a definitive action that will force me to go do other stuff. In our example the move was actually 2 things, enrol in a college course and to hand in my notice.

It was the time limit that changed my mood though; it was the knowledge that there was a finishing post to aim for. It allowed me to voice my concerns about my future and make it known that I wasn't happy with the way things were going. Because I don't follow through on a lot of things (see categories of 'Stuff' above) and my age at the time, it’s understandable everything I said was taken with a pinch of salt. When the time came, I handed my notice in and suddenly there was an overwhelming desire to offer me more money, better prospects and some kind of career progression but I showed no interest and went off to college.

The first time I went to college didn't work out because I was really quite ill at the time and unable to read or write for much of that year but I went back 18 months later. The year I went to college for the second time was the worst I've ever had for reasons I won't bore you with (because the rest of this is so thrilling!) but managed to complete and get to University.

Point is all of this was based on a decision and a time limit I set myself. There was no time limit on when I should be done by just when I should start by; I had a start point and an end point. The start point was 'leave this job', the end point was 'get qualified, get a career'.

That seems to have worked - not everything went perfectly along the way, indeed a lot went horribly wrong but that's the beauty of not having a plan.

I am now in the fortunate position of having a decent job that I am good at and that I am currently valued for. There have been ups and downs here that have made me question whether I want to continue doing what I am doing, so I used the whole timescale thing when that happens but things have always changed for the better before those points come up so I carry on doing what I am doing.

There is a bigger timescale I have in my head that puts everything else into perspective, so the job and the career I currently have have become much more something I can be flexible with because there is an end point if I need one when the time comes, I only have a vague idea of the changes I may make but the timescale is there so I don't really care that much at this point.

OK so it was quite life story-ee, but no one forced you to read it did they?!

Jerry's final thought - Most of the things you think you can't change, you can, and if you can't - why the hell are you worrying about them?!

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