Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I'm a blogging 'evangelist'

I'm busy preaching the word about how many of us 'everyday' folks can have blogs too. It isn't just for those who are computer geeks or crave attention, nope we can all enjoy keeping a blog and here's why:

1. Blogging helps remind us what we are actually doing with our time... And as you can see from mine... Far too little!

2. Blogging helps us keep in touch with people we don't see often. Why email when you can leave a nice comment on someones post?

3. Blogging helps us to express ourselves in new ways. Who knows who will be reading?

4. Blogging helps us to use the internet to connect with people and not companies. I remember when it all used to be about that but not anymore, unless you count blogs that is.

And finally, it is possible to make contact with new people... So do you visit my blog often? Ahem!

Just before I dash for today, may I also mention that my message has fallen on 'good soil' and borne 'much fruit'. A friend of mine, Joe Heyes has made a start on his blog so if you have a few mins, why not be kind and pay him a visit oh! and please be sure to post an advert for your blog here.. Xanga, myspace, blogger, flickr... Everyone is welcome to post a link!

Ps... As its Halloween, if anyone missed todays revamped google logo (now a tradition) here it is...

Spooky eh!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Healthy eating starts HERE!

(Wholesome burger pic is from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/popcornography/)

Now this might look good (and by jove it does!), but have you any idea what this kind of food actually does for you?

We all may be used to counting the calories and considering the cholesterol, we may even only eat food like this once per day (!), but a cursory glance at google soon brings the news home, and its not good.

If your diet looks more like this than something nice and green, then you could be losing anything from 20-30 years from your lifespan. Wikipedia also hints at heart disease soon after 40 but whats out there for us bloggers who actually want to survive to see web 2.0?

Well lets start here. This blog makes big claims: "How to never feel hungry again". If you read deeper though, the article seems to just say 'eat what you want' (highly paraphrased), now that sounds like the healthy lifestyle for me but I don't think that I could trust myself with this kind of rulebook.

Over at The amazing adventures of dietgirl the plan seems to be to use your blog as some kind of honesty journal. Own up to whatever you eat and maybe you'll 'shock' yourself into losing weight. It seems like a good idea but she seems to posting quite regularly at the moment so I wonder, does that mean shes honest and overweight or just compulsive and HUGE! (actually its WORKING!)

And finally, how could I justify this post unless I could offer some free stuff? Well I can't really promise it will work but here's a website thats got to be good for you. Healthyfreestuff.com may promise you free things but maybe with all that Omega 3 oil thats floating around, I can't help smelling something a bit 'fishy'. I'll finish my post by making my blog the DEFINITIVE guide to HEALTH, WEALTH and HAPPINESS.

1. Only eat veg and even then, not too much (HEALTH).
2. Take any website that offers 'free stuff' with a pinch of salt (no more than 6g per day though) (WEALTH).
3. HAPPINESS? Well make sure to get your regular dose of this blog of course... What more could anyone ask for?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Adobe 'Soundbooth' FREE BETA!

Big news for anyone working with audio... Here's some free software for you to try.

Adobe systems have today released an open beta version of a program called 'Soundbooth'. The software promises to offer some direct competition to Apple's 'Soundtrack pro'. Soundbooth beta is available for both PC and (intel) Mac here.

Currently on the Mac (my platform), the best sound editor is probably 'Audacity' which is another free download but I will certainly be beta testing this one with interest.

***UPDATE*** Anyone looking for MP3 support will be disappointed with this beta as the encoder is not licensed for use in this beta version.

Microsoft 'hacked' off already

We really should be used to this now, Microsoft's latest version of Internet Explorer has already suffered a security compromise. The browser is less than one week old.

The loophole allows a website to 'masquerade' as another which could lead to end-users supplying sensitive data to unauthorized third parties, commonly known as 'phishing'.

This latest security issue is embarrassing for Microsoft as IE now includes 'anti-phishing technology' which obviously may not be as robust as the software giant had hoped for.

The best advice remains to keep your personal data to yourself and never follow links to supposedly 'well known' sites which then ask you to log in or provide bank details. Instead, visit webpages directly.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The long arm of the law, with only a short reach

As some of you may know, my car was broken in to last week while I was working in Manchester and just when I thought it had been an expensive week for me to be a car owner, I saw the yellow fluorescent jacket of the Traffic cop telling me to pull over.

My offence was going 48 in a 40 at 11.02pm on a quiet dual carriageway, in fact there were more cars queuing up to be 'processed' than there were on the road... Anyway, as I drove off with a 60 pound fine and points to accompany it, I couldn't help noticing that the £60 fine equals the amount I had to pay for new glass when my car was broken into.

Isn't it rather ironic that the police don't seem to cracking down on crime, rather catching motorists unawares at 11pm?

Where were they at 4pm last Thursday?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Biased afterall?

The Daily Mail reported yesterday that the BBC is institutionally biased, by their own admission.

This type of thing is often reported and commented on but on this occasion, some of the BBC's top brass and journos seem to agree.

In this article, the Daily Mail quotes Andrew Marr (Political journalist) as saying

"The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It's a publicly-funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people.

"It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias."

Ok, so its not exactly earth shattering. Surely even the BBC should change with the times? But should this be counted as liberalism?

I tackled this whole topic of bias myself a few months ago here but for those who need to cut to the chase, I feel that true impartiality is impossible. How can we report crimes involving vulnerable individuals or mass murder without overtly stressing the opinions of the victims?

In essence, impartiality has little to do with fact however it may effect how journalists go about looking for them.

But what about comment and analysis? The BBC dedicates some of its news and current affairs output on individuals expressing personal comments on the big issues of the day, and you can take it from me that most have their own agenda in doing so. Here the BBC relies on balance. We can't expect politicians to comment with impartiality but by giving equal measure to different parties etc, they hope to strike some degree of 'fairness'

The Daily Mail's article also looks wider than the just the news remit though. In the article, they also claimed:

Senior figures admitted that the BBC is guilty of promoting Left-wing views and an anti-Christian sentiment.

They also said that as an organisation it was disproportionately over-represented by gays and ethnic minorities.

It was also suggested that the Beeb is guilty of political correctness, the overt promotion of multiculturalism and of being anti-American and against the countryside.

During the meeting, hosted by Sue Lawley, executives admitted they would happily broadcast the image of a Bible being thrown away - but would not do the same for the Koran.

Now that's a whole new ballgame. The BBC's idea of impartiality only really centers around news reporting, some of these issues would probably be considered under 'Taste and Decency' And that's a whole new topic completely...

Do you think the BBC is biased or do you feel they do a good job?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday night down at the Tavern

Have you ever stopped to think about what tales float around your local pub?

I visited a friends pub this evening and was in the unusual position of knowing quite a few of the patrons propped up round the bar and as I chatted to some good old friends, I began to think about how things in life change for everyone, not just me.

from the Landlord who's music career appears to be going quite well thank you very much, to other people who have recently made some pretty momentous decisions in life. It seems that wherever I looked, there was a tale to be told and it may be the journalist within, but I really enjoyed hearing each and every one.

There are millions of conversations that flow around those four walls, from cars to careers and holidays to honeymoons. My friend Elliott was holding a special wedding party and as he was telling me about his wedding day two-weeks ago, down comes his new bride, wedding dress et al! My congratulations to them both and as he told me about eating pate on crusty bread with Champagne by the sea, my senses momentarily left the licensed premises to join them, an invided guest to their special beach picnic.

Not all the talk was happy, but it was all wholesome and as I write the final lines for today, may I encourage us all to take notice of those around us, especially if we call them 'friend'.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Rx2008's amazing video! (a MUST see!)

The question is: Did he do the voice over himself? Its SOOO good!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Should newsreaders wear religious jewelry?

The debate of religion within societies continues to run and run here in the UK, but in a bizarre twist, the media storm has momentarily turned inward.

Readers may be aware that the Muslim veil is never away from the front pages at the moment, but the issue seems to have reached the desk of the news studio itself.

BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce wore a cross on her necklace and a BBC Blogger asked the wider question of what would we do if a Muslim presenter chose to wear the full veil?

Its worth noting, The BBC has not spoken on this matter so lets not throw any BBC PC comments round at the moment, rather I think the blog raises valid questions.

Does something like this affect impartiality? Or does this insult the professionalism of the journalists involved? And should we even be looking at issues like this? Do they not add the the sense of separation that is already far too wide in the UK's religious communities?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

1 Picture per day... for 6 years

This has been doing the rounds over on YouTube and its well worth a look for anyone who hasn't seen it before.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

KFC anyone?

This post has been prompted by desparation. I feel I must speak out and express my utter dispair. The Colonel would turn in his grave.

I have reached the conclusion that eating at a KFC restaurant here in the UK is largely a day long affair. Please don't anyone call this fast food.

How many times have you experienced this time-wasting scenario:

1. Enter KFC via door and join queue which begins a few inches over the threshold.

2. Contemplate leaving but the pull of the chicken is just too strong.

3. You notice that there appears to only be one person serving whilst there are four vacant tills.

4. The queue goes down very slowly as everyone in front appears to be ordering for twelve.

5. Just when you begin to lose all hope, its nearly your turn. Alas! someone is now trying to pay with an obscure credit card/voucher/cheque.

6. Nearly there! But what's this? Someone pushes in to complain that their drink has too much/not enough ice or the chicken is too hot/cold or just for an impromptu chat with the person who is 'supposed' to be working.

7. You get to the front of the queue but the person has disappeared... you wait while in all probablility they are using the restroom (without washing their hands).

8. Its YOUR turn... Your mind goes temporarily blank while you try to remember what you came in for.

9. The staff member has little to say while you order but seems to scowl.. Surely all this food can't be for one person?

10. After taking your order, they don't move on and take the next order... Oh no, they disappear again to manhandle chicken and chips onto a bun or into the box. At this point, you also notice significant gravy stains on the persons uniform and wonder... how?

11. You are relieved of far too much money in return for your meal which has inevitably lost some of its original appeal.

But wait! Even I was shocked yesterday as I visited a KFC which will remain nameless. Yesterday, while I was at Festival Park near Newcastle, I decided to visit a KFC restaurant and after waiting for nearly 30 mins for my food, I nearly choked on it when I heard the attendant announce to those who had been waiting 30 mins to reach the front... "I'm sorry, we have run out of Chicken"

Now I thought that I wouldn't finish my post on a negative so here's a few suggestions that I think the KFC crew could find useful.

1. Make sure you have chicken in stock - This one's important

2. If you have 4 tills... Why not push the (gravy) boat out and use them...

3. After taking someone's order... Serve the next person and the next, so on and so forth.

4. Get ANOTHER STAFF MEMBER to prepare orders using those handy monitors, Is that not what they are for?

5. Don't think people don't mind waiting... we do!

And finally... You may wonder why I have titled this post with the word 'Conspiracy' Well, basically I have found that regardless of the venue, the experince at KFC seems to be identical. Now I can't figure out why this is the case so I'm prepared to consider the possibility of some kind of KFC conspiracy.

And as for me, If any employees see this... I could be consuming the 'Hocker' burger unawares the next time I visit...

Monday, October 16, 2006

A big day for Mancunian Bloggers

With award categories including 'political' 'personal' 'arts' and 'culture' its going to be a mixed audience attending tonights first EVER Manchester bloggers awards bash.

I'll be there (of course!), loitering by the buffet table to mingle with my contemporaries and also to find out 'what the hell' an RSS feed actually is...

I've also hit upon what I think may be a totally unique idea. What if I take my sexy black Macbook down with me and actually blog from the event? I'll bet no-one else thinks of that idea... Sometimes I suprise myself with my creativity and originality.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The battle for hearts and minds... and YouTube

Am I the only person to notice a distinct increase of serious video's over on YouTube?

Its out with freakish 'near-fatal' accidents and in with party political pieces which try to sneak under the 'cool' radar to register with people who think that Senator McCain makes chips for a living.

I'm not saying that its a bad thing to drop the old political pill in with all that sugar but I do wonder if YouTube really is the place.

Here in the UK, the leader of the Tory party has set up his own blog, podcast and, vodcast too. He's trying to reach people who don't normally take much interest in the political world unless they start banning apple products which contain too much Mercury. (Airport base station anyone?)

I'm watching with interest to see if the medicine reapears up the YouTube, or if its swallowed, hook, line and sinker.

But what if all these political podcasts eat up too much precious space on my beloved iPod?

Well that would be too bitter a pill to swallow