dalliard.net

He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.

Flogging a dead horse

Retail chains come and go. This one should go - and go now. I’m looking at you, PC World... Read More...
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Modern Kids TV = Mostly shite.

There - you’ve read the title. Move along now. Read More...
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Comfortably numb

Some ramblings on my personal experience of jailbreaking my iPhone. You may fall asleep reading this, or you may get very angry. This article is like blog Marmite. Read More...
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Goblins

For the last few years now, I’ve had a certain amount of money saved up. This was my special “rainy day” fund for the house, enabling me to get all those things that needed to be done, done. If you know what my place was like when I moved in, you’ll also know that it’s had something of a transformation. I’ve had the windows replaced, had a completely new bathroom, a chunk of the kitchen done, soundproofing work, interior doors placed and I’ve created new storage spaces. It’s coming on nicely, but my attention has been drawn to the exterior of the building, which has been suffering in the recent bad weather.

In short, I need new guttering, fascia boards and soffits. This is no small job. To get access, the job would require a significant amount of scaffolding, along with the added complication of trying to build it over my neighbour’s property. It’s not an easy one, but there’s plenty of work there for the person who wants to do it. I know it’s not going to be a five minute job - and I don’t need any bloke to suck breath repeatedly through their teeth to tell me that. Hell, all I care is that an expert does the damn thing before the house starts to leak, bits fall off or my neighbours lose their rag with me. Easy enough, you’d think - especially as I’ve got the cash up front.

So back in December, I started to source a builder to do the job - I made six phone calls to different builders to get a quote for the work.

  • Of the six, three didn’t even return a call.
  • Only two actually came to have a look.
  • Only one finally wrote a quote on a bit of paper.

When I asked the final chap for a breakdown on his quote, he never returned my calls either.

So I tried a couple others. One who did return calls quoted a price that was plain stupid - evidently to put me off using him. One guy turned up, looked at the job and never put the paperwork together - maybe he was just bored and wanted a look around someone’s house? Who knows. One other guy, who said he would be here on Wednesday came a week later, then said he’d provide the quote after a few days - I’m still waiting after two weeks. It’s slackness of the highest degree.

I find this all rather hard to understand. Builders are essentially a law unto themselves. I can’t think of any other industry in which it would be tolerated if the company didn’t give the remotest fuck about the customer, fobbed them off with craptalk, didn’t do what they said they were going to and just picked to do what the hell they wanted. Most firms would go under - which I suppose leads me to my next point.

With gloom and doom aplenty in the media on the subject of the economic climate, we are also informed that the construction industry is finding life hard at the moment. I’m not surprised. If they can’t return calls, are workshy, have the administrative abilities of a poorly-trained chimp and the customer service skills of a goblin, then my sympathy is very short-lived - possibly even non-existent. What they’ve failed to compute is that one good job probably deserves another, that actually I could just be dipping my toe into the concrete to see how they fare, with the potential of a whole pile of other work in the offing - I’ve got plenty to keep them occupied. There’s a significant amount of work that needs to be done and I just want someone competent to do it, is that too much to ask?

It would seem so. Of course, if you’ve got a good builder recommendation, feel free to drop me a line. In the meantime I’ll sit tight, ready and waiting for the leaking to start, until someone deigns they can be bothered to get off their arse.
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Bullies

Nearly five years ago, I got rid of my television - a lifestyle choice that I don’t remotely regret. Whilst the item largely sat in the corner of my front-room collecting dust, that was only a minor point - I objected to paying a yearly tax for something that didn’t justify its expenditure. There seemed little point in paying over £100/yr just for a screen to play DVDs and a games console on.

That’s not to say that a certain agency won’t nag you, though.

Over the course of that five years, I’ve had about ten letters from TV Licensing, threatening me with a £1,000 fine if their mind-probe devices ever found TV reception equipment in my house. They’ve threatened me with fines, house-searches and body-cavity searches* if they found any hint of me watching Eastenders at the time that it was actually broadcast, God forbid.

But every so often when the threatening letters turned up, I continued to put a deft finger in their direction and ignore them.

Until my last letter turned up - and that just got me angry.

To quote the offending paragraphs:

Our standard practice is to now visit your address to confirm that no type of television receiver is being used there to watch or record TV programmes as they’re being shown on TV. This includes the use of a TV set, digital box, DVD or video recorder, computer or mobile phone. Our visit should take no longer than a few minutes.

If you are still not using TV receiving equipment at this address, you needn’t take any action. Just expect a visit from us soon.

Does anyone think these guys are pushing their luck here? Not content with trying to tax TV users, anything with a screen would now appear to be suitable prey - and how long before you need a licence just to get internet access? Does that mean we’ll soon need a TV licence to access the likes of iPlayer? (You don’t at the moment). If so, this change is just the tip of the iceberg.

As for me, well I’m going to continue ignoring TV Licensing’s bully-tactics - no matter whether I’m on their database or not. I don’t have a TV, or a device that looks like one - it’s as simple as that. In the meantime, I just hope that the recently instigated review of the licensing authority actually comes to something meaningful, before loads of OAPs have the shit scared out of them...

...but of course, this is nothing new. Just don’t expect to get in my house unless you’ve got a warrant.

On a final note, I recently got a DVD of old public-service broadcasts (remember Charlie and Splink, anyone?) - and I saw this. The criminal bit isn’t the owning of the telly, it’s the watching of Columbo...



* maybe not the body-cavity search, but they’d give it a go if they could.
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Pah

Blatantly obvious alert: There are 364 other days in the year that allow you to show appreciation of your partner. Do it.
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Food-Porn

I like food. I think we can all accept that as a given.

However, that doesn't mean I want to see food-porn. Maybe I'm just a food-prude. Perhaps I've not been liberated yet.

No idea what I'm on about? Well, food-porn isn't porn with food, just food presented in a pornographic way. Like chocolate cake? Well, you can get lots of food-porn of that nature. Perhaps if you like your hardcore food-porn, you can watch a video of the cake being sliced, close-up, with the chocolate cream dribbling down the sides.

It really does get on my nerves. I know what chocolate cake looks like, for God's sake. When I buy it, I don't hold it an inch from my eye and get a good eyeful - I eat the bloody thing.

Not sure what I'm about? Take a look at the current Christmas food adverts from Mark's & Spencer, or have a look here for a site filled with XXX Food-Porn.

There's just something rather wrong about it all.
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Rage

As I jogged along on the treadmill at the gym tonight, I discovered a new form of rage - it's called X-Factor Rage. Forget road-rage and office-rage - this is the new one. It'll be all the rage, believe me, because if you've got any sense, you'll condone it.

It all started as I started running. No - it wasn't my aversion to exercise, but more the fact that X-Factor was on the telly in front of me. As luck would have it, I had some music with me so I could shut out the audio, but unfortunately I still had to put up with the sight of the smug judges. I guess you can't have it all - I've been praying to see Simon Cowell destitute and asking me for some spare change for ages.

After what seemed only a few minutes, various people appeared on the screen, mostly in tears. I assume that this was because they were sad fuckwits with a deluded sense of talent, but the sight of eyes welling up continued - and it seemed relentless. After fifteen minutes, even Dani Minogue was doing it. I was hoping that Sharon Osbourne had been killed in a freak hairdressing accident, but no. On and on it went.

And it was starting to piss me off.

The unfortunate thing about running on a treadmill is that with a screen directly in front of you, it's hard to avert your eyes - a bit like A Clockwork Orange and after twenty minutes or so, I was starting to have enough. The blubbing continued. Perhaps they'd told the entire line-up of contestants that they should lose the will to live? I had no idea.

And then, for some reason, after about twenty-five minutes of running, I'd had enough. I'd not run far enough in my session, but I didn't care - I quit and went for a swim, not because I couldn't complete the distance, but because I couldn't cope with the onslaught of bleating tossers. In my head, I'd been wanting to shout, "PULL YOURSELVES TOGETHER!", but had showed exceptional self-restraint. Escape was the only option.

On the plus side, if it's like that every week it'll probably get taken off the air. Even the great British public will get bored at some point.
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Top-Notch Dough

Today I bought some bread rolls, such is the exciting life I lead. They were Kingsmill "barbecue" rolls. I wasn't having a barbecue or anything, but they were just a bit larger than usual and I needed some man-size rolls. Us men have healthy appetites, you know.

On the packaging, it said they were "Limited Edition".

What the fuck? So, does this mean that I shouldn't eat them, write down each roll's serial number and keep them in an attractive faux-veneer presentation case, Wanklin Mint style?

Note: My spell-checker insisted I use bareback instead of barbecue. That makes for an interesting read.
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Cheeky

Buying stuff online can be a bit of a lottery... Read More...
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Filing & Clipping

In a similar style to Oz, my feathered friend, my partner has decided that she would also like to have a pet bird. As she lives in an apartment block, we've had to do a lot research to find the ideal variety. She wanted something that was extremely colourful with a good personality, but nothing that was noisy.

This pretty much rules out lovebirds, cockatiels, sun conures and many larger parrots - a macaw, apart from the obvious financial implications would have the neighbours complaining in no time.

During the course of our research, we stumbled upon many different varieties of parrot, which naturally leads on to investigating the recommendations for their care/diet/etc. I can't believe so many people advocate the filing down of a parrots beak, or the clipping of their wings. It's just plain wrong.

Parrots fly and nibble things. That's how you know it's a bird. It's part of their personality. To stop a bird from flying through wing-clipping is like removing three toes from each foot to stop a human from running. Just the mere discussion/suggestion of the subject is enough to get my blood-pressure rising.

And don't even get me started on filing beaks. Give your bird a good diet and something to chew on and this won't be an issue.

I've read all sorts of rationale for these activities:

1) Behavioural - Wing-clipping eases training and reduces aggression. Maybe this is true, but in effect you've broken the birds spirit to get it to do what you want. Hardly positive enforcement, is it?

2) Safety - Stops them from flying away or into things that are dangerous. The reverse of this is also true. If the bird can only fly down, it can't fly away to escape a predator or escape something else that's dangerous. It also suggests that the location of the bird's cage is not entirely in the safest of places.

It seems that people can justify mutilating their animal for conveniences sake. Grrr.

Anyway, my better-half has now purchased a peach-fronted conure (sometimes called a petz conure) - there's a picture of the little chap below. I've never known a bird so cheeky and relaxed, even during the car journey on the way home. She's undecided on his name as yet. I'm sure something will come to mind. Oh, and the ruffled feathers are from him being damp after a shower.

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Incompetence


This evening, I received an e-mail from my friendly ISP, explaining why all of a sudden from Sunday my e-mail address (which previous received not spam whatsoever) had started to get full with spam. Naturally, I was not impressed.

From:
"PlusNet Customer Support"
To:
[removed]
Subject:
Important information about your email address
Date:
Wed, 16 May 2007 22:35:15 +0100

Username: [removed]

Dear [removed],

This email contains important information about a problem with our
Webmail service which may have lead to your email address being exposed to
a spammer.

If you are affected by this, you may have noticed an increase in the
amount of spam received since Sunday 13th May. This includes spam to
email addresses that were previously spam-free. This increase in spam is a
result of a security issue on our Webmail service. You can read about
this on the Service Status pages of the Usertools website:
http://usertools.plus.net/status/archive/1179240249.htm

I would like to make it clear that the Webmail platform is separate to
the systems we use for storing personal information such as credit card
numbers and none of this type of information has been exposed as a
result of this issue. However, purely as a precaution we would advise you
to change your account password by visiting the Member Centre then
clicking Account Details then Change Password.
Please note if you change your account password this will need to be
updated in your router or modem as well as your browser and email
software.

I am extremely sorry that a malicious third party has managed to gain a
list of email addresses from one of our Webmail servers. On behalf of
PlusNet I would like to sincerely apologise to you for this security
breach and the increase in offensive spam emails that may now be affecting
your email address. We understand how annoying and upsetting spam email
can be and we are treating this with the utmost seriousness. My team
and I will continue to work round the clock to reduce the inconvenience
caused to you by this problem as much as we can.

When we learned of the attack on our Webmail service, we identified the
source of the vulnerability and implemented a fix as quickly as
possible. However, following a full audit of our Webmail service we identified
a number of additional security vulnerabilities that it has not been
possible to patch. While these potential vulnerabilities have not been
exploited, we are not prepared to compromise on customer security so we
have removed our Webmail service.

We intend to replace our current Webmail system as quickly as we can,
and this is one of the next priorities for my team at this time. In the
meantime, if you use Webmail to check your PlusNet email from your own
PC, you might find it more convenient to use an email program which
runs on your PC instead. You can find information about setting up most
popular email programs at
http://www.plus.net/support/email/setup/email_setup_guide.shtml

If you have been receiving spam email to any of your mailboxes, then
you could also reduce this by taking some or all of the actions
recommended here:
http://www.plus.net/support/security/spam/spam_problem.shtml

This incident has highlighted the importance of keeping systems as
secure as possible. It is important to ensure that you always have the
latest operating system updates and patches installed. Windows users can
obtain these by visiting Windows Update, which is linked to from the
Tools menu of Internet Explorer. We always recommend the use of fully
up-to-date third-party anti-virus, firewall and Internet security
software, particularly for Microsoft Windows users.

Again, I would like to be clear that we fully recognise the impact this
will have on our customers and indeed the internet community in
general. All of us here are taking this week’s security breach extremely
seriously and we are doing everything possible to resolve all outstanding
issues. We will be publishing a full incident report and plan on what we
intend to do next to our website before the weekend. This will explain
exactly what has happened and how.

As you might imagine at this time, our Customer Support Team is
extremely busy. I would be most grateful if, during the next few days, you
could avoid contacting us unless you have an urgent issue that is not
answered by any of the FAQs or elsewhere on our website. You can also find
more details on our recorded information line 020 7517 8754 (please
note that our Customer Support team are not available on this number).

Kind Regards,

Phil Webb
Networks Director
PlusNet

...and for this reason, you will understand that I'm now looking for a new ISP. I can't believe their slack attitude. Anyone got any recommendations?
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Motorway Spotters

What is the obsession with middle-aged men feeling the need to discuss the anatomy of their dull motorway trips?

"Well, I came here via the M5, M6 route - but was delayed by 20 minutes worth of slow moving traffic at junction 6. I therefore came off the motorway at junction 4 instead and saved myself 2.4 picoseconds. It's a much more efficient way than going by the M4, M5, M78 route that everyone else takes."

Honestly, does anyone give a gold-encrusted crap?

The next time you have a go at train-spotters, think again.
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The Lavender Mafia

Every bank-holiday in National Trust establishments all over the country, they lurk. You cannot escape them...

...for they are The Lavender Mafia - old women who volunteer their services to press-gang innocent members of the public into parting with fifty quid. It's like having religious fanatics knocking at your door.

"Would sir like to join The Trust?"

No sir bloody wouldn't. Piss off, leave me alone and I might just go to another National Trust site another day...
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Car-crash web design.

I've never ranted about a web-site before, but MySpace seems like it will receive the dubious accolade of being my first... Read More...
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Schnö

So, six inches of snow, eh?

Get a grip.


That's barely past your ankles. Deal with it. Jeez.

There's places in the world that are sub-zero degrees Fahrenheit, let alone centigrade. Their trains probably run on time, too.
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Mneh

Everyone's got a nightmare story about a company they've had to deal with - here's mine. Read More...
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Humbug

Am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy when people complain of rising energy prices, but then cover their houses with 10 megawatt arrays of festive lighting and giant glowing snowmen?

Energy conservation is for life, as well as Christmas.
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[Insert expletive here]

It's official, the great British public are officially stupid.

3.5 Million people voted for three random people on ITV's X-Factor tonight. At 35p a text, it doesn't take the brain the size of a planet to work out that ~6% of the British population were willing to spend over £1m on such a brainless piece of drivel.

What's the chances that such a sum was spent in texts/calls on the previous program on their schedule, Extinct? Slim, I'd guess.
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The letter "s"

So for anyone who has heard far too much about the intricacies of my septic-tank, I shall give you one final instalment. Lucky, lucky you.

My problem with "slow-drainage" magically went after the man with the sucky-sucky-truck came and emptied the tank. Unfortunately, that wasn't it. The bill came to £200 (much to my annoyance) meaning that once split I was having twice as much extorted out of me as originally thought.

Although that wasn't all.

The company said that there was a problem with the tank. Apparently the "soakaway" isn't working too well, meaning that the tank doesn't really ever drain properly. To ensure that it does work properly, this will require lots of very expensive work to be done (we're talking thousands). The worst-case scenario is that the tank needs replacing (were talking several thousands) - this isn't really what I wanted to hear.

Bugger. Bugger. Bugger. Bugger.

But probably the bit that really bugs me - the thing that irks me the most, is that the company calls itself a "cleansing" company. No, it's not a cleaning company, it's a cleansing company. That word really, really bugs me. If you were to say the word, "cleansing", to me in a word-association game, I'd come back with,"ethnic". It is not a nice word, much like gusset, flange, moist and embolism.

Cleansing suggests purification, perhaps of a spiritual nature - and last time I checked, sucking shit out of a hole in the ground was not a spiritual affair.
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Think

Lots of signs such as this are popping up in my local area, pointless as they are.



The sign doesn't state whether the deaths are attributable to car-driver ignorance or biker negligence. Will the number get changed each time someone gets killed, like some sort of sick scoreboard? Does telling road users how many bikers get killed actually change anything?

Of course it doesn't. Educating people, changing behaviour and improving safety will do that - but that might cost significantly more than a dumbass sign.

Footnote: To the biker guy I know who confesses to regularly doing more than 130mph - given enough time, you will be number 7.
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We'll be right back...



...just as soon as we can remember how to spell our name.
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Arses

Tomorrow, after many years of cranes, pneumatic drills and hairy-arsed builders, the Drake's Circus Shopping Centre will open. This is not a good thing.

I'll be honest and say that I'm hardly looking forward to this. The opening signifies the start of a very slow, painful death to some areas of Plymouth's City Centre, as people become less bothered to shop in the high-street.

The building itself is the disastrous evidence of what happens when a committee of architects get together and can't make their mind up. How about a bit of glass here? Or a bit or giant terracotta here? Or perhaps some random bits of wood sticking out? Add some cheesy blue neon lights? Ick. Make no doubt about it, the place is an eyesore. Prince Charles would be turning in his grave - if he were dead.

Not forgetting of course, that poor old Charles Cross Church has been somewhat dwarfed by this concrete nasty. Wasn't it supposed to be a memorial, or have we all forgotten?

The skyline of Plymouth is changing - and for the worse. In the last few years, higher buildings have been popping up - slowly depriving the streets of sunlight. A few years back, one of the chief architects of Plymouth said that the city should have more skyscrapers. Idiot. Drake's Circus was commissioned because apparently, "Plymouth was now the only remaining city in the UK not to have an indoor shopping mall".

Sorry. I actually thought that was rather good. It meant that Plymouth hadn't been genericised (if such a word exists) to look like every other city in Britain.

Anyway, for those of you who are further afield, you'll be wanting to have a look at this link. (*clicky*). This gives you photos of it all, along with some amusing video prior to the areas last development back in 1967.
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Banging Against A Wall

As like most people, I've got more than one e-mail address. Usually this is so that people who I know can actually e-mail me without problem, whilst all the spam/crap gets diverted elsewhere. For about the last three weeks, one of these has been dropping into my mailbox, probably at the rate of one every 12 hours or so:



What sort of complete retard thinks,"well, I've had 20 e-mails from Barclays, asking me to confirm my bank details - and here's number 21, so I think I'll go do that now."?
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Queue Jumping

Overheard from a young-ish woman in a restaurant today:

"Of course, to get myself into my council flat, I had to be pregnant. My G.P. had to put it in writing. Although I only got a one-bedroomed place...."

So that's what babies are for.
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Hold Music Hell

(Quicktime is required for this one - download the filename below and open it up in Quicktime Player)

I had a somewhat bad experience on hold today - and probably discovered the most subtly annoying hold recording yet - have a listen.

The key points from this hold recording:

1) Please go away, stop bugging us and go to our web-site instead, where you'll be promptly ignored.
2) We're short-staffed, please stop bugging us and go to our web-site and apply for a job with us.
3) We pride ourselves on a high level of customer service - you just called us at a bad time. Why not go to our website instead?
4) Our phone lines are open between and , but why not go to our website and contact us there? If you must be a total pain in the arse and actually want to speak to a person, hold away.... you'll be there a long time.

All nicely spoken by two people who barrage you with information relentlessly until your head explodes. Nice.

<holdhell>
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A tip for car salesman...

...harass your potential customer on a daily basis, by phoning them up after the demonstration and saying, "you going to buy it?", repeatedly.

Yeah, like, that's really going to work.
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Tractors

If you lived or schooled in the Westcountry, you'll probably remember that great un-pc playground taunt that children used to say, "Can't read, can't write, but oi can droive a traaaactor". (Sorry, read with a blade of grass in your teeth). Whilst it was never proven, all school children used to believe the notion that for want of a better phrase, all young farmers were, well, retards. It was awful really and went to show just how cruel and bigoted schoolkids could be.

But were all adults now, so that couldn't be true at all, could it?

Well, yesterday, I went out. Being Father's Day, I decided to take mine out to a random pub in North Cornwall. The place was empty, bar a couple and five farmers, aged in their late 20's. However, on sitting down with one's beverage, you just couldn't take your ears off the fact that the five guys could not stop talking about who had the best tractor - how one would see the other off in his Massey Ferguson and how another guy could clear a field in the time that it took one of them to do just a few furrows. Wonderful stuff, the stuff that stereotypes are made of. You couldn't ignore it.

What bugged me, though, was the way these guys put their beer away. Not normally a big deal, unless of course you intend to drive. A somewhat bigger deal if you intend to drive something as big with the capacity to kill such as this:




I have my views on drink driving, namely that the alcohol limit should be reduced to virtually nothing and that offenders should be shot, but that's another story. However, I feel that in this circumstance I am going to support the retard line on the basis that nobody should be driving this after such a large amount of alcohol.

On my way home, I noticed at least three police cars hiding in lanes, ready to jump on those that insist on driving their way back after having a few, which was reassuring, at least. However, if this is your tractor and you did get caught on the way home, then you'll find me somewhat lacking in the sympathy department - you are a genuine retard.
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It's Eurovision Day! ~:/

I love Eurovision. For me it's a yearly ritual. Not having a telly should have made no difference, as the webcast was available.

But what's this? I require a plug-in called "Octoshape"? WTF Is this?

...and to cap it all, the damn plug-in doesn't work - "You can't connect at this time - you can try again later". Grrrr. Oh no I can't.

Denied my yearly fix of Euro Wogan goodness! Damn you Octoshape!

Foot-note: The United Kingdom's entry this year (as every year), was bilge. I note that it came 19th, about 5 places too high. The British public who voted for this song should be rounded up, taken to a large multi-storey car-park and stoned to death with Milli Vanilli CDs.

Foot-note 2 (23/5/06):I should give thanks for Bittorrent, which enabled me to watch it after all. Amazing - if that's the word to use. My favourite entry had to be Lithuania, simply for bringing a song to the competition that took the piss out of the entire thing - and Wogan should be given a knighthood. And if he's already got one, just give him two. Gasp)
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A suggestion...

...to old women who go to swimming pools.

SWIM

This will ensure that you actually manage to do something called exercise (which I assume is what you actually went there to do), whilst allowing the rest of us to actually do a full length without continually bumping into you and having to endure the story of How Edie Got Her Windows Done.

Thank you.
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Irrational Hate

Something has been making me ponder lately....

I'm usually a rational person. I do rational things (most of the time), for normal reasons. However for some strange reason, I have formed an irrational hate of two people (not Linda Barker, I should add - this is rational).

They both go the same gym that I do and I can't help but feel loathing as soon as I see them...

One guy is a pretty average thirtysomething sort of chap, who I usually see in the steam room. He's one of those guys who looks like he was spoilt as a child and doesn't understand the concept of courtesy. Does he come in and say, "I'll adjust the temperature - say if it gets too hot"? Course not. He just stomps in, does his own thing and buggers off again. It wouldn't matter if there were another 20 people in the room - he's the most important.

The other is a sorta Mediterranean looking chap who is usually on the machines, virtually non stop. In fact, I don't think there's been a moment where I haven't seen him there. The problem is, he's got this ego. He struts around in that sort of fannymagnet sort of way, whilst the instructors fawn over him. It's vomit inducing. And my, you should see him when he goes past a mirror.

This probably sounds like I have extreme jealousy. Those who know me, know otherwise. I hate egos. The thing is, I'm sure they're very nice people outside, who are wonderful people.

Problem is, I just want to stick pins in voodoo effigies of them, which is a shame.
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Snip-Snip



It's November, chaps - and it might have crossed your mind that Christmas is coming soon, which invariably doesn't bring us to discussions about the son of Christ, peace and goodwill to all men, but to good old consumerism and gift ideas. Huzzah!

I've been asked by a few people about what I want for Christmas, which this year, like many other years has been a quandary that has made me scratch my head. I would have been perfectly happy with a satsuma, a lump of coal and a copy of the 1976 Whizzer and Chips annual, but no, not this year - I've decided what I really want.

  • If you can gift wrap me a contract killing - superb.
  • If you can gift wrap me a contract killing of any D-list "celebrity" of my choice - splendifferous.
  • But if you can sod the gift-wrapping and bring me the severed head of Linda Barker on the end of a spear, fan-fucking-tastic!

This woman is pure evil. Her viciousness knows no bounds. In two months time, I shall have been television-less for a whole year - a marvellous thing. I have largely avoided her Changing Rooms, Changing Gardens and Changing Clothes in Bombay. However, it seems that her irritating mug has invaded cinemacommercialand, in the form of the latest DFS adverts. I feel a strongly italic letter coming on.

Dear Messrs Pearl & Dean,

I feel I must strongly complain - your lack of taste and discretion has resulted in me vomiting into my popcorn.

Yours sincerely,

Disgusted of Devon.


Sofas, by top-designers. Bolllucks. Is she a "top-designer"? Is she, my arse. Has she won awards for her work? No. Has she been given a knighthood for her home improvement endeavours? I don't bloody think so.

Take a long look at this photograph - you all have about seven weeks to make a man who historically loathes Christmas believe again....
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Spot The Difference.

I live near a place called Plymouth. Plymouth was bombed a lot during WWII and for that reason, needed rebuilding.

The local council (in their infinite wisdom) bought shares in the "Gray and Nasty Concrete Company PLC" and decided that concrete was the new shrubbery.

Such a fine example of the Nasty Concrete Company's work is Drake's Circus - a shopping centre that never seemed to get full occupancy, adjacent to an office block that never seemed to have tenants. The shopping centre looked like the first little image on the left. Isn't it just lovely?



The council, seeing the error of their ways, allowed it's demolition. Hurrah for the council.

Unfortunately, the council didn't see the error of their ways at all. They allowed planning for something larger, more concretey (is that a word?) and had even more potential to get even grey-er in a few years time.

Ladies and Gentlemen, here's Drake's Circus, Version Two!



Isn't progress wonderful? (Version one cost - £1m, Version two cost - £200m)

I think I'll go and take a lie down now.
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Useless Television Programs

Top of the pathetic TV program stakes tonight had to be "Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes". For non-UK readers, here's a breakdown.

If you can't be arsed to click, here's a synopsis - The program is pure unadulterated bilge. A c-list star gets to dress vaguely similar to an a-list song star they're trying to impersonate. The similarity is usually only vague in appearance, singing is atrocious and not in the style of who they're trying to mimic. It also follows a format that should have been long gone before the dinosaurs were made extinct. Cat Deeley doesn't do much for it either. At least Matthew Kelly had vague comedy value. To make the torture worse, they spin it out with numerous commerical breaks. All I can say is, hurrah for the BBC.

ITV must be busy pulling all those splinters out of their fingers from their recent barrel-scraping sessions. In addition to the celebrity chefs, celebrity wrestlers and celebrity jungle survival experts they've created, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how the boffins at ITVs "ideas" department work.

Before you state the obvious, no, I wasn't held at gunpoint to watch it, but I was present in somebody else's house - so it would have been extremely rude for me to shout out, "this is shit, change channels".

I also do not have a television. This reminds me why I do not have one. My decision to get rid of it was the best New Years Resolution I ever made.
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Copy Protected CDs - Why?



Prior to it's release, I ordered Royksopp's, "The Understanding", so you can imagine my subsequent delight when it plopped it's way through my door this morning (a review will follow soon). As I ripped off the packaging, my jaw dropped when a saw a little logo plastered all over the case. It was stuck on the front, on the spine, on the back, on the inlay card and the actual CD itself.

This logo indicates that the CD is copy protected.

Reading on the back of the case, it gets better. Apparently, one is supposed to use a piece of software included on the disk to play it on your computer. There's also an additional note...

"On some equipment, for example car CD players, playback problems may be encountered".

Bloody marvellous.

So, theoretically, you can't play it on a computer without the right software and you might not be able to play it in your car. So what exactly is this lump of plastic that I've just bought - is it a CD, or isn't it? Like myself, CD Player manufacturers should be ranting that companies such as EMI aren't even manufacturing CDs that stick to the standards.

To to it all, I've popped the CD into both my Macs, opened up ITunes and used Lame to rip the tracks as MP3s. Huzzah!

So the truth is, it's a copy protected disk that isn't, that might not play on half the equipment it's supposed to. What's the point? All it does is piss off legitimate purchasers - and you can copy the disk anyway.

As a consequence, I've decided that this will be my first and last purchase of a CD that displays this logo - let the CD manufacturers rant that sales are down. As far as I'm concerned, they've nailed their own coffins by selling me an inferior product. Copy protection is the spawn of Satan's bottom.
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