Showing posts from 2006


Now look, when you smash your elbow with something or back your car into a wall, I can perfectly understand the temptation to exclaim something short and sharp, a choice word or two. But the youth of today seem to have taken the infamous shock F*** word of the 70s and used it instead of most of the adjectives in their limited vocabulary. Initially their intention was to shock, I guess, but it's now used five times in every sentence and it's anybody's guess what it's supposed to mean. It's just sheer laziness, with the speaker unable to express themselves properly. And movies don't really help, with 'stars' made to talk in the same way. English is a wonderfully expressive and diverse language, so come on guys, let's use it to the full....

Window Cleaners

Now, don't get me wrong. Window cleaners are often very cheerful and very friendly people - certainly our neighbourhood one is. But it's a job that simply doesn't need doing. Like most people, we had our cleaner 'do' the outside of our windows every month or so for years. Then he put his prices up and, on a hunch, we said 'no thanks' and decided to do them ourselves. In fact, we never got round to it and the outsides of our windows haven't been cleaned now for 3 years - yet, looking at our house, the windows don't seem any dirtier than the houses around us. Wind and rain seem to do the job just as well, and for free. 90% of the muck that accumulates on windows is actually on the inside (especially in the kitchen or if you're a smoker) - and that's a job that we all have to for ourselves anyway. Outside window cleaning - another job that just never needs doing?

Travel time

I've probably ranted about this before, but why oh why do people forget all about time when they decide on a new job? OK, so someone's offered you a job that pays £35,000 p.a. in the big city, but if it takes an hour each way to get to and from the office, that's likely to be at least two hours of each day completely wasted (OK, you could perhaps read a book or listen to an audio device, but it's still not exactly leisure time), not to mention the stress involved with travel delays and the considerable cost in travel expenses (petrol, rail fares, etc). Factor all that in and most people would, I'll warrant, consider that a local or from-home job at £20,000 would actually be preferable. Me, it takes me 10 seconds to get to my office, 6 if I run. And I can work (or not work) according to my own iniative and inclination. And if I had to go out and get a 'proper job' again, I'd only consider something local - it's the travelling that costs and the travel

Going fully digital

Phew! It was with a sigh of relief that I finally bagged up our VCR and carted off all my old VHS tapes to the local charity shop. Yes, there are a few tapes that I wish I'd had time to digitise via the PC onto DVD, but the vast majority can be picked up on DVD at some point in the future, if ever. The replacement? We're now fully digital, having picked up a budget (but stylish) PVR . For the unitiated, this stands for Personal Video Recorder, although I hate the name and prefer HDR or Hard Disk Recorder . Anyway, it means that we can record directly from the built-in digital TV receiver to its hard disk, watching one channel while recording another and generally cherry picking programmes from the week ahead and letting the HDR do the rest. Really, really, cool, and no more clunky VHS tapes to take up space and let us down with poor recordings and chewable media!

Watches alive and well?

I'm staggered that the humble wrist watch is still doing so well in 2006. With the time (and Calendar reminders) on every phone, I haven't worn a watch since about 1990. Clunky, restrictive things. And yet a friend of mine runs TikTox and is making a go of selling wrist watches to the millions. Clearly there are messages of style and general 'coolness' here - and I've never been considered 'cool' by anyone who's not themselves a geek!! Do you wear a watch? And if so why, if you also carry a phone? Interested in any comments!

Crowded Shopping Malls

Yes, yes, these are probably a teenager's dream - to have retail opportunities AND the ambience of loads of other excited shop-worshippers. Meanwhile, for a grumpy old man like me, there comes a point in each shop's capacity where there's so much gridlock in the aisles, so long queues at the checkouts, such a wait to get into (and out of) the car parks, that it's not worth actually being there - it's just such a colossal waste of time. My best tip is to get to the shopping mall at 9am sharp, when everything's opening. Most people are generally lazy and won't be as organised, so you'll have the place more or less to yourself and will have no traffic or parking problems. Or, even better, shop online!

Pets - Who needs real when you can have FurReal?

I'm staggered by the realism of some of my daughter's electronic FurReal pets. The premise - she really, really, really wants a puppy. Or a kitten. etc. I really, really don't want the mess, the hassle, the smell. etc. Solution: get her a FurReal pet. She's just as happy, maybe even happier, as these pets can be cuddled all you want and never complain or scratch back. Highly recommended!

Games, games

I've been waiting and waiting for decent games to come along for my chosen smartphone platform (Nokia S60), but back in the real world I've discovered that convergence isn't always the best path - shock horror. To my chagrin, I've been bewitched by the quality of some of the games on my daughter's Nintendo DS Lite , specifically Touch Golf , which knocks spots off any other golf sim I've ever played, on any platform. OK, so it's another box to pack when going on holiday, but it's worth it....

Greedy restaurants

Look, this is how it's worked for hundreds of years: you eat your meal, ask for the bill and then pay it, adding a little extra as a tip if you've had good service. But restaurants have obviously decided that people aren't being generous enough and have started being very sneaky. I went to Ma Potters in Reading today and, in a bit of a hurry, glanced at the bill and then paid it, adding roughly 10% in my head. The bill seemed a bit high, but I didn't want to cause a fuss because the restaurant was crowded, so I left before examining the itemised bill in more detail. They'd added on 10% automatically, INCLUDING it in the final bill total. So they'd sneakily managed to get two tips out of me. Grrrr.... The moral: examine the bill more closely before you pay. And I'm going to protest by deliberately removing the 10% from restaurrant bills that include this 'optional' extra - and not returning to any of these establishments.

Clueless managers

So there I was in Toys'r'us. And by the checkout they had a huge pile of crisp packets, with a sign saying '5p each', with best before dates about to expire. No worries, I thought, and picked up a handful. When my turn in the (only) queue came, the checkout operator had to call the store manager over the tannoy and get him to come over and authorise the 'special' purchase with his master key. This took around five minutes, during which time customers behind me in the queue were giving up on their pile of would-be purchases and leaving the store in frustration. What an absolute farce - it would have been far cheaper for Toys'r'us to have simply binned the crisps, or (better) given them away in a big pile saying 'Please take', and generating a little goodwill. This was the second similar retail experience I've had in the last week, in each case demonstrating that there are people in business who have absolutely no idea what they're doing...

It's not about the money - wind and sun power

Hopefully a few people will agree with this rant at least.... I keep hearing about why our governments, companies and householders shouldn't bother with renewable energy sources (wind/sun/tidal, etc.) because they don't make financial sense. What rubbish and how short sighted! When other energy sources are failing in 30 years time and electricity and gas are 10 times the current level, there are going to be billions of people regretting not investing (yes, INVESTING) in alternative energy sources NOW. What on earth are we going to run our civilisation on when the gas and oil and coal run out? All nuclear? Hope not. Those dismissing renewable energy installations because their 'pay back' time is 20 years (at most) should realise that the 20 year figure is at current energy levels. Multiply your current fuel costs by four and then the payback time becomes an awful lot more attractive. Renewable energy is about investing in the future, not saving a few pennies or cents now

Sun worshippers

So I'm in the middle of the UK summer and a real 35 degree heatwave. As soon as you step out of your air-conditioned car or shady house, the heat hits you like a wall. Well, this is novel for the UK, at least. It physically hurts to be out in the direct sun in the middle of the day and you can almost feel the ultra-violet rays damaging your skin and kicking off all sort of mutations... Yeah, yeah, I know, an over-active imagination, but at least people all over the world are starting to realise that prolonged exposure to the sun for people with fair skin can be very dangerous. So why oh why do a significant number of fair-skinned UK residents lie down in the full sunlight for hours at a time? If they don't use sun-cream they'll burn to a crisp. If they do, it'll take hours and hours to get any kind of a tan and the damage is still being done to their skin in any event. I was stopped by a market research lady a year or so ago and chatted to her for a few minutes. My atte

Trivial amounts on auction shows

Maybe it's a UK thing, but we have lots of TV shows where people dig up stuff from their attic and experts coo over them and then help them put them up for auction. Now, so far so good, it's marginally interesting to see what junk people have got and how much it's worth. BUT - then the auction starts and we see the highly paid presenter, arm round the shoulders of the featured contestant, going 'ooh, it's up to £15, wow, we made a £10 profit' and so on. Come on, this guy is being paid £20,000 an episode, I'm waiting for the programme where he (or she) says 'Stuff this, it's peanuts, couldn't you come up with anything more valuable in your loft?' and then walks off. Or maybe it's all just 'showbusiness'. It's certainly all rather false, anyway.

Begging politely

And, while this blog's getting lots of wonderful (/kind/generous) AllAboutSymbian readers, can I ask anyone who knows me and wants to help this blog along, to add to your own blog roll or links pages? Every little bit of link love helps, you know? 8-)

Blogging from your smartphone

Excuse the test nature of this entry, but I'm generating it as part of a tutorial on blogging from any email device, such as a smartphone. If you're interested, the tutorial's over on Normal service on rants and raves will resume just as soon as I've worked out what is normal anyway.

Not much of a (Windows) Vista

I have to say that I think Microsoft have lost the plot with Windows Vista. I can see where they're coming from, in that they've got all these programmers hanging around and they're trying to make money etc., but honestly, isn't Windows XP complex enough? Isn't XP good enough? In many ways, Windows 98 and ME was quite sufficient for hosting the work of 99.9% of computer users. XP added benefit in that it rolled in the guts of Windows NT, with enterprise-quality innards, but surely there comes a point when enough is enough. I'd much rather Microsoft directed its programmers to squashing the remaining bugs in XP (as opposed to disclosing and fixing them in a drawn-out series of updates) than invested millions of man hours in yet another new operating system. Will Vista be better than XP? Probably. Will it need new hardware to run properly? Definitely. Does Vista offer any concrete benefits over XP? Not really. There is absolutely no way that most people/businesses

Too big and clunky and... oh, not any more!

Having borrowed a Nintendo DS a while back, I thought it was too large, too clunky, too plasticky, the battery life was too short and the screens were too dim. Perfect fodder for a rant. Except that Nintendo have listened to its users and are launching the Nintendo DS Lite this month in Europe!! It's smaller, brighter and generally better in every single way . So consider this a rave (a good one). Highly recommended.

Alright m8?

Leaving aside the truly horrible way language is descending into SMS-speak ("c u l8r", and so on), I just hate, hate the way totally unknown people use over-friendly words. It's just about bearable when a more elderly lady calls you 'lovey', perhaps in a shop when she serves you, but when another man who I don't know and who most certainly isn't a friend calls me 'mate', I just want to shout 'I'm not your mate!' The dictionary says that a 'mate' is a friend or partner and I abhor the word being used for no reason at all.

Oh, to be young and flexible again

So I'm in my forties. It's not that old, honest, and I can stride down the street looking fairly trim. But it's all pretense. You see, I have a smallish daughter (age 7) and when she does these simple tricks on the trampoline or zooms round corners on her Heelys (incredibly cool trainers with roller skate in the heel), I suddenly feel very old indeed. I've tried the trampoline tricks - every one has resulted in my falling 'a over t' and looking extremely silly. And I wish I had the courage to get myself some Heelys - but I just know that I'd again be flat on my back in very short order. Another example. Some kids on my block were kicking a ball around and it came in my direction. I joined in the kick around and was enjoying it for all of a minute when suddenly I slipped and landed awkwardly - and my 40-year old back put me in agony - this was last summer and it took 2 months for my back to feel normal again. In my head I feel 25. I'm sure I'm not alo

England Flags

Now don't get me wrong, I'm as patriotic as the next man and watch England's World Cup games with the same degree of nail biting as the rest of you. But what's with all the flags guys? The whole point of the flags and banners is usually to wave them around at games and generally inspire your team. But the TEAM'S IN GERMANY! So what's the point of every car, every house being bedecked in the Cross of St George flag? Noone in the team can see it. Even on TV, they're locked away training and getting ready for the next game. Who are the flags displayed for, then? It beats me. What a waste of money and patriotic effort. If you really want to do something for your country while waiting for the next game, do some work with youngsters or pick up litter or get involved in local politics or... well, anything constructive really.


I can understand sports in general. I even enjoy playing some of them. But all involve moving around to some degree and getting fit. I can understand hobbies, things you really, really enjoy. But what on earth is the point in fishing? I suppose you could be catching tonight's supper, but I gather that's mostly outlawed these days and it's a 'recreation' thing and you have to stick the fish back in the river. So let's get this straight. You hang around, freezing to death on a damp river bank, waiting for a fish to happen by and get duped by your bait. You then get it lodged on a vicious barb, through its mouth, haul it onto dry land for a while, causing immense stress to the fish. And then after all that you throw it back in, without even the cause of needing it to keep yourself alive. Writing this in the UK winter, I walk along the banks of the Thames and pity the poor souls sucked into this depressingly chilly and soul-destroying pastime.

New year fireworks

OK, so I was up at midnight when the clocks ticked over from 1999 to 2000. And there were fireworks all around the world, and why not? It was a once-in-a-lifetime event. But ever since, we have to put up with hugely noisy fireworks going off in our streets at midnight every single New Year. Yeah, yeah, I'm only complaining because I'm getting old and have a young family, but on behalf of others with small children and who. with them, need sleep, I'd like to rant and say 'No problems with the staying awake and partying and so on - but please leave off the fireworks next year. Thank you'. Glad I got that off my chest!