Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Guardian wants you to be taxed for using the internet!

As you know, it is very rare for me to pay for news via a printed newspaper.   I was mighty impressed when The Guardian broke the story of the swindling members of parliament and then the phone hacking that saw the closure of the news of the (SCREWS) world. Absolutely no loss to the world at all.

But even the Guardian couldn't entice me back to being a full time reader of news through the medium of news print.  It is only on occasion that I am drawn to them through their free to all, on-line news service still preferring to get my news from on-line newspaper articles suggested to me from others or the TV.

I am not alone in this, not reading newspapers, as the Internet has given us the choice not to need them.  On my way home this evening I was listening to The Media Show on BBC Radio 4 and heard Mr David Lee, Investigations Editor of The Guardian newspaper pontificating on about his idea of introducing a Broadband Internet Levy to raise an annual fund to be handed out to all newspapers. You can listen to the new breed of street beggar here

Clearly we need choices in anything that is out there to be able to get different views and perspectives.  First it was word of mouth and stories were passed along from person to person, village to village and town to town. Then came the written word or pictogram on rock, then slate then paper with one page news, then newspapers, then telegraph, radio and finally TV.  Now, I understand that when papers where in their heyday they were making vast fortunes and creating rich dynasty's, so it's a bit rich when one of these dynasty's who year on year and in some cases decade after decade, are producing their very expensive and loss making pages, and I understand that the prats at the Guardian are losing about £100k per day are now suggesting that a £2.00 per month levy on broadband internet users and this should raise about £500 million per year to be used to bale out the newspaper industry?  What a bloody nerve, if they can't operate profitably - close down.  So, I don't read newspapers and if I did want to read one in paper form, I can walk to the local shop and pay across the counter for it, but what I shouldn't be asked for, is to pay a TAX that is going to prop up failing businesses that I can live without to pay people who cannot run a profitable business.  Some may argue then that we should have left the banks to their own devices, but that is another argument all together, but, newspapers,  NO, NOT NOW, NOT EVER!

We have TV, Radio and the Internet, if newspapers are a loss making medium how can they continue to pay, presumably high, salaries and dividends each year but expect to receive funding from the TaxPayer when it is not a company providing  a critically required service to the nation, a bit like Channel 4, a commercial company, also funded by the Taxpayer.  Just think how much we could shave of the license fee if we stopped funding A COMMERCIAL COMPANY.

So, to Mr Lee and The Guardian, start making a profit or shut up shop, but don't ever ask me for a hand out, I can watch the news or read one of the great blogs out there on the internet for my daily dose of news without baling you or any other commercially failing company!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Book Review: Gabriel's Return by Steve Umstead

Look inside Amazon UK
Look inside Amazon US 
Book 1 in the trilogy of Commander Evan Gabriel was reviewed by me earlier, a link to that review is shown below and in which I commented;

"Gabriel's Redemption tell us the story of Commander Evan GABRIEL from the NAF, North American Federation, which comprises America, Canada, Cuba and Mexico and is head quartered in Toronto after most of the seaboard states have been swept away. The South American Federation largely made up of Brasil and Argentina after that continent is blown apart by nuclear war is a bit player with ambitions. GABRIEL is on the run, just because he doesn't want to be found, and hiding out in flea bit hotel in Jamaica after being dishonourably discharged when an off world mission on 'Eden' goes horribly wrong and he is (believed to be) the only survivor. We don't get to learn to much about this previous mission, which maybe we could have done as it left a big gap in the character of the 'hero' " 
Gabriel's Return,Book 2:  After being reinstated into the NAF in Book 1 and carrying out a successful mission, Gabriel is posted to Mars along with his new team to help and assist the local Mars governments and the Mars Defence Force to clean up the corruption on the planet.  After receiving opposition from the locals he and is team come to be accepted as they clean up the criminality without imposing penalties on the honest traders in the domed cities.

He is summoned to the office of the Governor of the largest city and finds that she wants him to take his team back to Eden where he lost 'all' of his team on his first mission to that planet.  The terrorists are still operating there and the governors son, studying at the university, is taken hostage along with all of the other students in residence. Also received is an apparent call for help from the only other surviving member of Gabriel's first visit to the planet, who was found alive and until the moment the message was received, thought to be dead! If it wasn't for the other surviving member from his first mission there, Gabriel would probably have declined the request to rescue the kidnapped student, as the mission wasn't sanctioned by the NAF!

As they set of on their mission Gabriel has to brief his team and tell them that not only will they have to fight the terrorists but that almost all of the indigenous plant life is as deadly as a terrorists bullet but what they don't know is that the kidnapping is all part of a bigger plot that trebles the chances of this mission being as deadly as the first mission to the planet!

Umstead writes flowingly and the book moves along at a cracking pace keeping you interested and turning pages.  It's not a terribly long book, just over 300 pages and as the narrative keeps you going, it will not take long to finish reading.

You can connect with Mr Umstead via Twitter @SteveUmstead

Related Posts - 
Book Review: Gabriel's Redemption by Steve Umstead

Editing for Kindle /iPad: 5 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Page length on kindle /iPad: 321
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Friday, 14 September 2012

Bruce Willis - Apple Terms and Conditions

When I opened up my browser this morning the Apple software had new T&C attached to be read and agreed with before taking me to itunes.  Now like most people, I suspect, when we download programmes and simply click on ' I agree' or 'I accept' and then get on with downloading.  Now, until I saw the recent article informing the world that Bruce Willis threatened to sue Apple over the fact that should, or rather when, he dies, he would be unable to leave his many thousands of songs, videos and films to his children in his will as he has not actually purchased the items, but is only renting them, I too was unaware of this fact! After all when you 'rent' anitem from the itunes store it actually states 'buy album, single, video, film'.

It does not say 'purchase license' or redirect you to a note stating that you are not actually buying the item selected but rather, you are only buying or purchasing a license to keep the item, in your life time!

So, interestingly when this popped up this morning I had a look at it and I wonder if the mighty Apple have decided not to take on Mr Willis:

3. Transfer. You may not rent, lease, lend, redistribute or sublicense the Apple Software. You may, however, make a one-time permanent transfer of all of your license rights to the Apple Software to another party, provided that: (a) the transfer must include all of the Apple Software, including all its component parts, original media (if any), printed materials and this License; (b) you do not retain any copies of the Apple Software, full or partial, including copies stored on a computer or other storage device; and (c) the party receiving the Apple Software reads and agrees to accept the terms and conditions of this License.

But, as the license only allows you transfer to 'another' person, will Mr. Willis continue his threat to sue as he wants to make his collection, worth in the region of £40.000 (GBP), to all three of his daughters?  Watch this space.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Essex Police: Incompetent or just plain lazy

Just how incompetent or lazy are ESSEX POLICE?

For a number of years now I have been asked by them to provide CCTV footage to assist in their investigations.  And for years I have burnt off CD's with the required information, of which at least 3 out of every 5 discs burnt to disc from the system are never collected.

Now burning off discs from images saved on the system is a relatively simple enough task but it does take time to do it and so, my time and effort is a wasted exercise initiated by ESSEX POLICE.

Now, when you think about it, no POLICE force would look kindly upon any person or group, who time after time, made a nuisance of themselves or wasted their time by phoning or contacting them on issues which were deemed to be time wasting.  In fact I would go as far as to say, that after a couple of time wasting calls or contacts the person wasting POLICE time would be arrested and charged for doing it!

So why shouldn't the POLICE OFFICER who phones me, not be treated in the same manner they would treat me, if I were guilty of that offence?

The most recent example of this was a phone call from an ESSEX POLICE Detective Sgt 'L' based in Rayleigh.  She called me on 31st August 2012, concerning a break in to a games shop in the market.

I had reviewed the CCTV but had no discs available to burn off, so suggested that if she wanted a copy that someone come down with a blank disc and I would do it for them.  I also explained that the two scrotes responsible for the break-in had originally turned up at the back of midnight to suss the place out and that during that visit there was probably at least two good facial images.  I further informed her that on their return to carry out the actual break-in at 2 AM they were on site for over an hour and that there was a couple of good facial shots during that time too!

She asked when I would have new disc to burn on to, and I told her Monday, she replied that they could wait until then. I suggested that she wait until the Tuesday as there was no guarantee what time the office ancillary items would be delivered by the courier.  I also informed her that I would be off from the Monday night, but that she would still be able to collect on the Tuesday, by visiting the office.

So, off I went on Monday afternoon 3rd of September, returning to the office on 10th September, and guess what, go to the top of the class if you guessed that the disc is still sitting on my desk 10 days later!   And this, after me informing her that someone in the POLICE force might well recognise the criminals if their images were emailed around the district to other stations, So just how much of a screw up are ESSEX POLICE?  You hand it to them on a plate and there is no hope of them actually following through, as I said this is not the first time, but it will be the last time.  I will not now be burning off CCTV footage for them unless they turn up with a Request for Disclosure of Personal Data Under Section 29 (3) of the Data Protection Act 1998 and there has to be an officer on site waiting for the disc to be burnt off.

On another incident recently a PCSO phoned me and said they wanted footage of another incident that had taken place, I asked why they needed it and she said in case there is an insurance claim, WTF! So I asked why, are ESSEX POLICE  now taking on the liability for insurance cover for the property? In the end a Sgt phoned me and when I explained my requirements he threatened to come to the site and seize it by way of trying to bully me into just burning it off for him.  So, not only do they appear incompetent and lazy, but if you do not give the item without complying with the rules, i.e. without the aforementioned 'request for Disclosure' which is a legal requirement, even for ESSEX POLICE to comply with, they try and bully you into submission..

On another incident today, after reporting that some of the local worthies had hidden a video recorder under a stall, after having been refused to have it bought from them by the local Cash Converters (pawn shop), two PCSO's from ESSEX POLICE arrived, caught up with them in one of the car parks and one of the PCSO's was eating her sandwich while questioning the 'suspects'! I know they have to eat, but in the street dealing with people. Maybe next time they'll pull out a fold down table and chair and invite the person being questioned to join them in a snack lunch!


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Book Review:The Valley Walker by TW Dittmer

Look inside Amazon UK here
Look inside Amazon US here 
First book by Indie Author Tim Dittmer.  I follow Tim on Twitter and looked at his book a couple of times before 'taking a chance' on purchasing it.  Lets just say it looked interesting and it had been on my Kindle for about two months before I got round to it, well that's not strictly true, as I opened it a couple of times, read the first couple of pages, was slightly confused, put it down, read something else, opened it again and re-read the first couple of pages and put it down again.

To be honest, after putting it down for about the third time, I nearly put it into the archive file on kindle to be lost and forgotten but, I didn't, and after getting past the first couple of pages and then into the book proper, I enjoyed it immensely, but with a couple of reservations.  I was advised by someone, who had looked at the books on my review page that The Valley Walker would probably not be 'my cup of tea', and to begin with I thought they may be correct and it wasn't going to be when I discovered that ancient Laos Mysticism was involved and was actually at the heart of the story; not that I knew much about Laos mysticism, or any other mystical based cultures for that matter, but there you go, one can never quite tell until you dip your toe, as it were, into the water and then fully immerse yourself in the full experience.

So, what was it all about?

John Walker Michaels volunteered for the US army when he was 18, to go to Vietnam, we don't know how or why but while there he may have become part of the CIA or he may not! What we do know is he seemed to become a law unto himself and not many questioned him or what he did.  He attached himself to units and it was accepted by commanders that he was what he was, an enigma who came and went as he pleased, disappearing and reappearing like a ghost weeks later.

He picked up languages, Vietnamese and  Laotian by listening to conversations. He appeared to have almost mystical field craft skills and with weaponry too.

He was posted Killed in action turning up years later in a drug store in a town in Michigan where Terry Altro or Miss Altro or just plain Altro as she preferred to be known as, was waiting to have her prescription for contraceptives filled.

Altro was a special investigator with the Governors newly formed Drug Interdiction Unit and Walker, as everyone who new him before, had come to know him, was watching her closely, studying her and reaching out with his mind to make a connection, The Mysticism  .......

When Walker had been declared KIA, he had been adopted by the Hmong peoples of Laos an old race of peoples who started of tall and white with blue eyes, but over the years of moving through the furthest parts of Asia and China, hounded and exploited, they finally settled in the mountainous region of Laos, where over the centuries their features changed to that which we recognise as Asian today.  Theirs was a culture steeped in deep mystical belief a belief that the spirits can inhabit the body, both for good and for evil.  It seems that Walker discovered or was empowered by his adopted and 'ancient' Hmong mother to channel one such spirit and when doing so a tattoo of a dragon would appear on his head that seemingly come to life.  When he moved while in this possessive state it was to fast for the human eye to follow and made it easy for him to kill.  He could appear in a room and disappear as mysteriously, in the blink of an eye. If you can suspend belief while watching a film about ghosts, or witches or even vampires and enjoy what you are watching then you can enjoy this book.

The story centres around Walker and his fight with the Laos drug lords that started in Vietnam and Laos moving to America years later.  Altro who has recently been appointed to the newly formed Drug Interdiction Unit is targeted for assassination by them and their American backers, although the story doesn't quite get round to explaining why, she alone, of the new unit is singled out? Walker following her is vaguely explained in that he feels her presence but is pretty vague about why the connection was made.

The other four members of the unit are introduced.  A Pakistani who seems to be good at making very strong coffee and knows about every weapon under the sun.  A Vietnamese computer wizard who likes to sit with his feet up on his desk looking at Altro's ass, when he thinks she isn't looking, the 'Princess' who is gorgeous but good at her job whatever that was and Mallory the unit boss who it turns out was the last platoon leader that Walker attached himself to, before disappearing in Vietnam. That's about as much as can be said about them as their involvement in the story seemed to be just as gap fillers and completely incidental and who really appeared to play no major part in the story.

There were a couple of issues with the formatting, I read this mainly on the ipad and there seemed to be a lot of white and blank pages, and wasted space for example the 'Chapter 1' heading appears just below the centre of the page and then the first three lines of the first paragraph and this happened a couple of times and in a couple of places you got a complete blank page at the end of a chapter before the next chapter begins, same on the kindle as I opened it up on that too as a comparison.

Having said all of that though and ignoring the weak characters and the slight formatting errors I did, once I got into it, enjoy the story for what it was.  It also seemed at the conclusion that someone else may have similar abilities as Walker that may have been an opening by Mr Dittmer to write more about the realms of  mysticism ........

There are 97 chapters in this book but they are relatively short ones, but I believe in some books, this works well, and this is one of them and as it is a particularly well written with a flowing narrative it makes the book zip along at a good pace (except for the four hangers on), but their appearances, while interspersed throughout the book, is soon forgotten as you move along with the rest of the story.  Dittmer does write well and I believe as he learns his craft he will only get better.

You can connect with Tim at: http://twdittmer.wordpress.com/
or at: @TWDittmer

Editing for Kindle /iPad: 4 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 4 out of 5
Page length on kindle /iPad: 374
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Julia and Oscar

How many friends have you made on Twitter with whom you interact with but have never actually met?
Well, in the case of Ishbel and myself we have around 400 followers between us and a fair proportion of those that we interact with.  The ones that we haven't interacted with is not to be judged, we hope, as rudeness on our part or we trust on their part.  It's just that you get 'talking' to and engaging with some and you and the ones that don't always interact are following each other hopefully because we like what they say, and how they say it, and again, hopefully, sooner or later we will each catch up with the other and have a bit of chit chat and really get to know each other.

But, how many of them do you personally know and make real, rather than virtual friendships with? Well, obviously we know family members and close friends. But for many of us we may have 'friends up and down the length of breadth of our country and many many more all over the world.  A large proportion of them we might be fortunate enough to meet in the country and we may even get to meet and get to know a few more across the world if we are fortunate enough to be able to travel to their country of origin/ residence.

If you do get that opportunity, will you worry that when you actually meet that you might not 'click' in person. Or that on meeting you, or they might take an instant dislike to the other, it happens in real life sometimes, you meet someone for the first time and there is just something about the other person, you don't know what it is, you can't put it into words, but there is something there that you don't like. Or you meet up and invite them back to your home and they don't like it for whatever reason and they can't hide a hint of disappointment and that serves to make the visit a little awkward, it happens, I'm sure......

But no worries on any of that score when Ishbel and I met the totally gorgeous and beautiful Julia Barrett and her equally handsome other half, Oscar.  They had planed a trip to do a bit of trekking in Wales but couldn't get a fight to Manchester which would have been a better airport to fly into and then a short trip to Chester before meeting up with their guide and starting their trekking from their tomorrow. So they flew into Heathrow and we offered them a bed for the night and duly met up with them at Heathrow Airport.

Surprisingly, it didn't take them long to get their baggage and get out onto the concourse to meet up with us, with everything we hear about arrivals and the time it takes them to clear customs after landing at 11 AM they were out and clear by 11.45, so well done to Heathrow for that.  And then knock me down with feather but the M25 was surprising fast moving and with no hold ups or delays going round clockwise and we were back in the house in an hour.  One can only assume that the Olympics and Para Olympics have had such a positive effect on the country which has even been embraced by road users, it'll probably be back to being Europe's biggest car park on Monday tho!

As soon as we met we met and introduced ourselves we were chatting like long lost friends who had just got reacquainted, and that was the theme throughout the short visit.  Interestingly we also found out that we share the same wedding anniversary, we each have three kids of similar ages to our own; girl, boy, girl and their youngest is a Jennie too, who knew we had that much in common, we like similar TV shows but like me in the past, their faces contorted on learning that beautiful smart Ishbel likes WWE wrestling, although I suspect it is the hot ( or so I believe) sweaty muscular bodies more than anything else that attracts her, the only question is why when she has me?

Last night, not worrying about the effects of jet lag we had booked tickets for The Jersey Boys about Frankie Valli (with an 'i' and not with a Y as Italian names must end in a vowel, as we discovered) and it was a great show thoroughly enjoyed by us and the rest of a very appreciative audience.  Before the show we went for a meal in a Thai restaurant at 42 Rupert Street overlooking the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue before heading round to The Prince Edward Theatre on Old Compton Street

After the show we meandered back down the street and went for a PINT in The Duke of Wellington which was loud noisy and very very busy both inside and out with the 'doormen' continually trying to keep the large number of drinkers on the pavement off the road! It was only later that Ishbel informed us that it was a GAY bar, she does know these things, but hey who cares!

A quick stroll round Piccadilly Circus and then it was back on to the underground, the train and home by midnight before we all turned back into pumpkins.  Julia and Oscar were by then beginning to feel the effects of their long flight but clearly Oscar has less stamina then Julia as I had, eventually to prise both her and Ishbel's death grips from their wine glasses and send them off to bed at 1.30 AM, gosh, even when knackered women refuse to stop talking, WHAT!

We were all up around 8 AM today and then had a nice leisurely scrambled eggs and salmon with a glass of bucks fizz and more talking  before heading back in to London for them to catch the train to head of on their trekking and hiking ( no one will mention the fact that I missed two turn off's and we missed the train they were to catch - No one will mention that - and any way the women were still gassing while me and Oscar on the other hand were having some intelligent conversations, WHAT!)

SO a great time was had by all and Ishbel and I had a fantastic time with our new REAL friends and hope that it is not to long until we meet again.....

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

For the Zombie ladies, Penny, Julia, Jaye and Zcomposition

While sneaking off from Ishbel as she has me clearing junk, again ahead of H and I arriving from California later this week, I came across this posted on Facebook from one of my nieces in Inverness, who is also a Zombie freak,  Freak as in the verb and used in the nicest possible sense to describe some of the ladies in my life who have a particular love of all things Zombie and who are just a little bit frightening in their zealousness in awaiting the apocalypse with excitement so that they can start to blast and cut away in a blood soaked release of anticipation of murder death kill.  Mind you as the Zombies are, for all intents and purposes, already dead, it's OK to do so.  It's just the joyous descriptions of what they will do, come the day, that is a little bit scary and one can only hope and prey that they all manage to hold themselves in check until then and not let loose on the general populous in frustration... Although I think some of them may mistake a certain Ms James for a Zombie and despatch her, if met ......

So this is what Leslie posted over on her Facebook page that I thought may have the ladies drooling