Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Too much information?

What a hectic day! We've had a series of arrests in Birmingham which seem to be spurring wall-to-wall news coverage live from the scene (there really is 'nothing to see here' though). Why couldn't this report be presented from the TVC studios?

We've had DC calling for TB to chuck in the towel and take early retirement (or possibly exile?) and we've had the shocking news that this January, the UK has seen the hottest average temperatures since 1914 (didn't realise global warming was a problem then, did you?). So even the seasons seem to be moving along too fast.

In all honesty, this kind of pace is far too quick for my little brain. How am I supposed to take all this in, even if it is presented by the lovely Joanna Gosling?

I am going to politely request world leaders, political groups, militants, football transfer window officials and overpaid pop stars to SLOW DOWN!!! Oh and if its hard for people like me to ponder on events like these, how hard must it be to report on them?...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Blogging on WebCameron

The leader of the Conservative party in the UK has today been talking about 'building a cohesive society' and racial integration. I thought I'd take a few minutes to write down my thoughts for his blog and this one too.

So just how do we build a cohesive society? How do we tackle prejudice and racism in a way that is both realistic and robust?

It seems that hardly a day goes by these days without the word 'racist' being thrown around by one group or another. If its not in the Big Brother House then its in the even bigger House of Commons, but as I sat and watched a debate on TV tonight, I felt compelled to share some of my feelings. I hope you don't mind.

Despite all of our best efforts, todays society seems far from cohesive to me. In fact I'd say its adhesive.

Cohesive means to 'join things together', it takes effort on both parts, but our society seems to be quite different. In our adhesive society, groups and communities have merely been 'stuck onto' a wider base. Thanks to this one-sided effort, we have communities within communities and the less we understand about each other, the more everyone feels threatened.

So how do we go about fixing this? Well firstly I think it starts with you and me. Kindness, compassion and respect for those around us makes a huge difference. As a Christian, I believe that this 'love' isn't just about being nice, meek and mild. I think that this forms the basis of a coherent society, no matter what faith we practice, if any at all.

I care about people, I want to see those around me to be happy and to reach their full potential. That isn't a religious principle or a political mandate (although it makes an excellent basis for both), no its the desire to see our society join together to combat crime, to share in the arts and to build a positive hard-working economy. To improve life for all.

Now to some people reading this, you may see it as 'pie in the sky' politics. Surely this kind of principle can't make a difference in our 'asbo ridden' society. Well I think it can.

As part of my work as a freelance journalist, I teach in secondary schools and due to the nature of my projects, I work with groups of pupils, some of whom who are on the brink of exclusion or segregation. Its amazing to see these young people respond to the opportunity to express themselves creatively and also, more importantly, to be heard.

When we take people seriously, when we listen to their views and opinions and when we welcome their contributions to our communities, we actively engage in cohesion. We bring two different groups together. Of course this is social cohesion with the disaffected but I think the principle is the same.

Lets take the challenge to build a cohesive society by taking the first step. Lets come together in our communities to deal with the challenges together and lets stop tryig to 'shoe horn' someone else into our mould. Lets expect the same from all the different groups within this Great Britain.

Lets make a difference. Lets lead the way.


Aside from these being my thoughts, I am seriously considering a career in political speech writing. I wonder how someone gets started in that type of thing?

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Rock Bus Blog is done...

For anyone who's interested in seeing yet another blog based project that I've been working on. Take a look at

The aim of the blog is to highlight what's what for the Rock FM bus and to also showcase the work that we do in the schools and communities.

My involvement with the project has steadily increased over the last few months. I now work pretty much full time on media training and teaching across North West schools and communities.

If you'd like more info on the bus then drop me an email and I'll be happy to answer any questions.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

***Surely not ANOTHER blog!***

Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the internet... I'm blogging AGAIN!

Yup, ever the blogging evangelist (as well you may know), I am now in the process of designing and deploying a blog with Rock FM.

The blog will cover all the events that take place on the Rock FM bus and there will be pictures and audio in the mix too.

The Rock FM bus has been visiting schools all around the North west of England and will soon officially launch beyond its current 'pilot' status.

I will post a link to the new blog address when its all finished but in the meantime, if you need a blog and you think no-one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you should call the B-Team!

Monday, January 22, 2007

The blue screen of... shopping

Yes, I couldn't resist capturing this photograph as I wandered around Newcastle recently.

It seems that although M$ may power 90% of our IT infrastructure, there are quite a few examples of BSOD which are duly noted, and recorded by the public.

In fact, this flickr group is made up entirely of photographs of crashed computers in very public places. So if you catch a glimpse of a PC in distress, why not grab a quick pic and don't forget in a few days, we'll get to see what the Windows Vista one looks like too...

Fancy a go at blogging?

I'm still on the lookout for posters over at

I do have some posts on the way and things are starting to take off for the new site but I'm always on the lookout for interesting posts from interesting people.

If you'd like a go, why not email me ( and we can sort something out.

You don't have to register and I'm happy to post a biog at the end of each post so you can link to your own blog if you are an established blogger and if your new to all of this or just blogless then what better way to dip your toe in the water?

If you have any questions or are interested then give me a shout.


Friday, January 19, 2007

That stinks!

Ever wondered why the price of perfumes is so high? It turns out that making something smell nice isn't quite as easy as you'd think.

You see, smells generally speaking don't hang around. They may last for a while but making them stick takes a bit of clever science. Don't worry, I'll keep it simple.

Basically the perfumes are made up of lots of smelly ingredients mixed with an oily base (sometimes taken from rare animal glands). The composition of the mix works out like this...

100% Parfum

EDP - Eau de parfum

EDT - Eau de toilette

Apres resage- Aftershave

The higher up the scale, the loger your smell will last.

And finally, your fragrance actually is designed to smell different as the time goes on. The ingredients are mixed to peak out at different times, three for the price of one.

Sharp edge- For the first 15 mins, your fragrance is at its fruitiest. Citrus smells pervade here.

The Heart- You fragrance carries this smell for about 2 hours (EDT or above) and the mid fragrances pervade. The smell loses its edge and becomes more refined.

Bass edge- Any stronger, smoky smells linger around and for the final hour-or-so, your perfume will bottle out with all the richness available.

The main fragrance lasts until the oily essence has evaporated and this mix also determines the price.

Any blokes out there, here's my recommendations...

DKNY EDT - citrus bite with a fresh easy going feel, much like CK One (EDT).

CK Euphoria EDT - a sophisticated smell to this one

JPG 'Le male' EDT - Very popular, this fragrance lasts the longest so if its value for money and a fine fragrance you need, you'll probably like this one.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Life in the city, web 2.0 style!

Looking for some social software thats just a bit different than the rest? Citypixel will probably be right up your street.

The format is based around an 80's 'pixel art' isometric city. You sign up and create your virtual citizen which can wander round the 'sim-city-esque' streets and nip into the odd building here or there.

You'll pass lots of other mini citizens along the way, and if they have a green line underneath, they're online.

Now just before your mind conjers up thoughts of animated isometric characters smoothly walking around your web browser, I must point out that your journey is done via clicks and as such, contains no movement at all (the gridlocked cars are fully animated in that regard).

So the main reason this site exists, as far as I can tell, is to dress up the rather tired idea of social software into new clothes and as such, I did find myself wondering why I was clicking around a very poorly designed navigation section just to reach user generated biogs etc. That was until I stumbled across a really, really neat feature.

Anyone who's played the 'sims' will be familiar with the house design element of the game. Well its here on this website! The tedium of statically navigating around the clumsy city was broken immediately as soon as I realised that its possible to claim your own 'virtual apartment' and even a 'virtual office' too. Your little avatar moves in and can drag, drop and arrange your furniture to your hearts content. Not only that, you can even create your very own website to allow visitors to peek through your keyhole.

My 'apartment'

'The office'

This kind of customisation really breathes promise into the Citypixel idea. You can visit anyone's apartment and rate them and you can even watch their YouTube videos if they have installed the little 'plasma screens' on their walls, I was impressed by what I saw here.

I suppose you could sum up Citypixel as a web-browser version of Second Life it has a cut-down feel of this kind of persistent world social software. I'm really hoping that the day will come when these incredibly cute (and detailed) pixel art characters and buildings become animated but until then, the customisable nature of my Citypixel home, will keep me popping back. Even if its just a holiday home away from Myspace or Second Life itself.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The BBC college of Journalism

Hot off the press, the BBC college of journalism (CoJo) has launched amid 'internal' fanfares today.

The reason why the launch didn't garner much attention to anyone outside of the BBC's 'Gateway' intranet site, is probably due to the fact that the college cannot be accessed by us mere mortals in the outside world. Its a bit like Hogwarts...

The new online facility aims to ensure that the standards are kept high (for BBC staff only) and this is reinforced by a physical facility too, (for the 'muggles' perhaps?) apparently over an Italian deli in London.

On a serious note. I find it interesting that in this age of mass-media and rolling news, the BBC are still interested in not only keeping a presence in what's becoming a fairly busy marketplace, but the Corporation clearly intends to reinforce the strong journalistic principles on which the NCA department was built. As such, I think this is licence fee money relitively well spent (easy on the deli takeouts though please).

As part of my teaching in schools. I have been asking the media students "what makes a good news channel on TV?" It's amazing how many get caught up with the bells and whistles before even considering the framework from which the actual content is gathered.

I am worried that the new Al Jazeera news channel, may fall under this banner. Yup they may be gearing up for HD broadcasting. And its pretty impressive to see a wall of reporters and correspondents waiting to 'bring us up to date' immediately, but I'm slightly concerned that there's an anti-Israel bias that has already crept in. Maybe its not in how the news has been reported as much as the stories that they are missing out.

In this day and age. The media is playing an ever increasing role in how we perceive or world and indirectly how politicians deal with things on our behalf. I hope the BBC's college is quick to remind its students of the ethical responsibilities which accompany their reputation as one of the most trusted news providers on the planet.

(You may read a more detailed mandate on this blog post from the CoJo Editor. should you wish. Or check out biased BBC. Maybe they could assess some of the coursework?)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Here it is...

In my last post, I mentioned that I'd been thinking about the future of this blog. I am unsure as to who reads it and why and I was thinking, do I blog for my own benefit or do I actually want people to read this?

I've decided that the answer lies somewhere in-between, and that got me thinking some more...

Here's the outcome. I've decided that this blog will not change. I will continue to write as I please, regardless as to who (if anyone reads...) my blog is primarily personal and its main reason for existing is merely to allow me an excuse to write. So nothing will change, well, almost nothing...

I can now reveal that I have set up a new blog over at This blog will not be written by myself (although I may post). Rather I will invite people to write posts for it. This way the content will vary and it may make an interesting read, something which personal blogs sometimes do not.

You can visit the site at and although anyone may leave a comment. The posts are by invite only so you must forgive me for having a bare site at the moment.

In closing, I'd like to encourage you to keep reading this blog (should you so wish) and also to pop along to the new one and 'leave comments'!

***EDIT: If you'd be interested in posting then email***

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Something BIG is on its way...

Thanks for dropping by to my blog...

This blog has been around for a while now and I have been thinking recently about how it can be improved.

I have made a few decisions about where I want things to go in the future and I'm almost ready to come clean. I will be making an announcement shortly.

In the meantime, please feel free to 'nosey' around some of the content and keep popping back to catch up with the goss.


Did Steve Jobs break the law?

Yes its the iPhone, yes they will sell lots of them and yes, its aaages before they are released outside the USA but did Steve Jobs, just break the law in his keynote speech?

With usual gusto and 'boom', Steve was keen to show off his new toy and entice us away from our iPods to crave after his latest gadget but he may of gone just a little bit too far...

As I watched the Keynote, I noticed that Mr Jobs appeared to place a few calls on the new handset but according to Apple's own website, he might of fallen foul of telecommunication protocols.

According to the Apple website, the phone "has not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission' The website then goes on to point out that, as a result of this lack of authorisation, the handset may not be sold or leased. The burning question must be does it carry the appropriate FCC certificate to be operated or are they waiting on that too?

I'm sure that Apple wouldn't drop such a clanger as to break the law, blatantly infront of 4000 spectators and then webcast the event further afield to pent up bloggers such as myself but who knows, maybe in all the fuss, something was overlooked? (conspiracy theorists awake!)

On a slightly more serious note, if Apple are to face court proceedings surrounding their new mobile, its more likely to be in the civil courts between Apple and Cisco who seem to already have an 'iPhone' on the market... hmmm the future may not be quite so bright for the Apple handset in the short term.

***EDIT: A few people who work in the mobile industry have commented that phones can be tested in this way and that FCC compliance seems only to be required once the device is intended to be sold so I suspect that if this is the case... No laws were broken at all. I also have it on good authority that Apple and Cisco are close to brokering a deal on the iPhone name too!***

Monday, January 08, 2007

Is this what we are made of?

Scientists in the USA say that they have made 'significant progress' in solving some of the core questions which surround the formation of the universe.

According to a NASA spokesperson, the famous Hubble Space Telescope, has been able to map the whereabouts of invisible 'dark matter'.

Scientists think that this mysterious matter makes up over 70% of the universe, yet we don't really know where to find it, let alone what it 'looks' like. Until now.

We are told that this discovery will ultimately unlock many mysteries which still surround the 'creation' of the universe.

I am reminded that when push comes to shove, there's still so much that we simply don't understand about the universe. Nor about this place where we find ourselves cobbled together. The third rock from what is a relatively insignificant star (although to us it is the most important by far!).

I was speaking on this topic over the weekend with one of my friends. He has an upcoming college exam surrounding the whole 'hot potato' of proof of the divine.

Many people have tried to argue, that the sheer complexity of our universe must point to the existence of a God or transcendent designer. I'm not too sure though.

The world, no the universe may be magnificent! But that in itself doesn't point to the divine. If thats the only proof then I'm signing up for atheism tomorrow. No, the existence of a God must be based, for me, on something more substantial, more measurable, more personal (maybe like God becoming man and being born of a Virgin?)...

So the question remains, how can we, as mere mortals hope to comprehend an incomprehensible God? If God made this universe, what chance have we, as insignificant as we are, of understanding his existence? Surely we could know nothing of such a God unless He (assuming he's a personal God of course) reveals himself to us?

I will watch with interest as the scientists try to figure out what this latest discovery means for mere mortals such as myself. I'll also spare a thought for the theologians who are trying look for traces of God amongst the stars and despite what I have just written, I'm also thinking of something which Einstein once wrote.

"We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different languages. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not even understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books - a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects."

The most incomprehensible thing about the universe, as he once put it, is that it is comprehensible at all. Maybe thats the proof?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

MyBlogLog - Web 2.0 essentials

Web 2.0 is revolutionising the way in which we think about and use the internet and I'm always on the lookout for great 2.0 sites and services. Let me introduce you to MyBlogLog.

To sum up this site quickly, its a bit like a 'Myspace for Bloggers'. Its a site which allows you to make contact with other bloggers from all around the world, add them to your contacts portfolio and obviously view their blogs.

The service is free to use and so far, I have found it to be a great utility for finding new blogs about any given topic and also making some kind of meaningful contact with its author beyond firing off an email into the invisible 'ether', posibly never to be seen by human eyes again.

The blogging community is growing daily and with over 55 million blogs to choose from, anything which helps an audience to find their blog-based information promptly is a bonus. Couple this with the fact that it allows bloggers to attract a larger audience too and you really do have a recipe for success.

If your a blogger, register for the sake of your wider audience of fellow bloggers and if you are looking for some specific topic based blog, then you'll do far worse than to make this your first port of call.

Friday, January 05, 2007


It may look just like water to you, but to your mind, its much more than that.

According to 'All in the Mind' from BBC Radio 4, your brain makes hundreds of sub-concious decisions every minute. And you won't believe what happens when you're thinking about water...

In her programme, Claudia Hammond says that our direct state of cleanliness, has a lot to do with how we act and what we decide to do.

For example, you may behave differently in situations where help is needed if you have just washed your hands. Yes apparently if you have clean hands, you are less likely to get stuck in and it can be a direct consequence of your cleanliness.

The programme is well worth a listen so tune in and let me know what you think.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Fancy a photoblog?

When blogging doesn't quite hit the spot, how about a photoblog instead?

Most of us have mobile phones with camera's on them and providing that we are sensible in how we use them, there is no excuse for anyone not to have some kind of blog. In fact most young people I know, are already on myspace although most don't use the blog bit on there which is quite understandable.

Most people will know that for both business and pleasure, I take photographs and a good friend of mine has just started his own, dedicated photoblog. Over at you can keep up to date with his pictures as he posts them and I can promise you that you'll see some absolute crackers as the days roll on by.

I think Marcel is aiming to post a new picture every day and as a photographer myself, I know that this is no mean feat. Its really tricky to capture a decent picture every single day but in a way, I started my post by encouraging you all to do just that...

Here's the deal... If you can't or don't want to write your blog then why not use your cameraphone instead? If your a pro/semi-pro photographer then why not try to post one top-quality photo as often as you can? One thing is for sure, everyone will benefit.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The BEST Indian restaurant in Wigan!

Now this isn't an advert but I couldn't get too far into 2007 without sharing a little secret as to where I spend my days dining out.

The Buraq restaurant near Wigan does some mighty fine food and I've been eating there since it opened a number of years ago. In fact I started eating there when it was just a humble take-away.

I was there the other day and my friend took this pic so I thought I'd write a litle about some of my favorite Indian dishes, so here's how my menu looks, you may call it top of the popadoms if you like...


Popadoms - I like the lime paste and the mint yoghurt

Tayeef Kebab


At the moment, my fave is Beef Korai but also up there...

Chicken Makhani

Chicken Bahlti

Lamb bhoona

Aside from the grub, you can't beat a large bottle of Cobra to wash it all down wish and my good fried Talib (pictured) is usually on hand with some 'drinks on the house' to bring my dining to a close :-)

So as I start 2007, may I wish Talib and all the staff, a great new year and keep up the good work!

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007


It seems the Iraqi authorities are trying to find out who recorded the execution of Saddam Hussein on a mobile phone before posting it online. 'Amazingly' it appears that the actual footage of his execution is causing 'tension' in the country.

When the authorities released a muted version which fails to tell the whole story, they hoped it would make everyone think that Saddam's execution was somehow a dignified affair, maybe even graceful. The ex-President accepting his lot and finally bowing out while the USA look on with glee. Instead, the actuality of his execution shows that no matter how deplorable he was: nothing appears to have changed.

The death penalty is savage and inhumane and even if Saddam was 'hung by his own petard' (he built those gallows), no one should be fooled into thinking that there are not stll bloodthirsty individuals running Iraq.

Then, right on cue, to comment on this state-sanctioned-killing, steps the UK heavyweight, deputy PM 'two-jabs' Prescott, who (in between state sanctioned croquet) has this to say...

In a BBC interview, UK Deputy Prime Minister John
Prescott called it "deplorable" and "totally unacceptable" that video
clips of the execution had surfaced on the internet.

Mr Prescott is in charge while Prime Minister Tony Blair is on holiday.

"I think the manner was quite deplorable really," he
said. "I don't think one can endorse in any way that, whatever your
views about capital punishment.

"Frankly, to get the kind of recorded messages coming
out is totally unacceptable, and I think whoever was involved and
responsible for it should be ashamed of themselves."

Tut tut!!! it appears that Mr Prescott's concern does not center on the act itself, rather the recording of it! Am I the only person to feel slightly disgusted at this level of duplicity? How can we ever hope to encourage democracy around the world when really we are only operating superficially at best? We say one thing yet do another.

Sure I can write a blog and protest 'electronically' but my country and its leaders really do need to either keep quiet on this issue or be very careful what they are saying... How about this...

"I'm really disgusted with what this person has done. Its unacceptable that a state-sanctioned-murder was recorded and shown publicly.

We wanted Saddam dead (although officially we cant say that), and we hoped that the matter would disappear from the international conscience, once the tamed down version of Saddam's murder had been released. We had a suspicion that it may cause a few hundred deaths, but we thought it was a price worth paying. but now the truth is out?...

Its disgusting that someone recorded this event of brutality and then had the cheek to actually show everyday people what a shambolic, debased act it actually was... Shame on them! They will have blood on their hands!"

... My advice in this situation? Maybe Saddam should not have been killed in the first place?

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Monday, January 01, 2007

New year greetings

I just thought I'd take this opportunity to wish everyone all the very best for 2007.

Regular readers of this blog will know what to expect this coming year but if you are visiting for the first time today, you can expect comment on just about anything.

In the meantime, I will leave you with some video footage which was taken a few days ago when I went to watch the 'Blue Planet Live'.

The BBC filmed over 7000 hours worth of footage for the series, and during the performance, some of the highlights were shown on a 60ft screen whilst the musiical score was played in realtime by an orchestra and choir.

This was all lead by the composer, and it was a great evening of stunning images and music.

It was fantastic!

Best Wishes,