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Thursday 30 September 2010

Social Media Journeys

An introduction to the new project.

Visit the Social Media Journeys blog:

If you want to contribute, please get in touch & tell us your own story.
I already have one new contributor.

A beach vlog.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

AudioBoo - Hola

Trying to learn a new language.

Thursday 23 September 2010

I Want My DNA.


Any offers to profile my own DNA?

Confidence - Losses and gains.

Yesterday, i posted an AudioBoo in which i happened to mention confidence. This was mentioned in the context of having just been offered a part time job and the potential boost in confidence that this may well bring.

After talking and thinking about this afterwards, i have decided to expand on this topic a little. Partly for my own benefit. But, also because it is a topic that is very relevant to a lot of us.

As i said in the AudioBoo. I have just been offered a part time job. Nothing particularly earth shattering about that, you may think. But, for me this was big news and good news too.
One reason for this being such good news, apart from the obvious monetary considerations, is the fact that this will now allow me to persue some other ideas that i have. One of which i mentioned in the podcast. That is something that i will be talking about at a later date.

But, the other aspect that i also mentioned, was the boost in confidence that a job offer like this gives to you.

I was made redundant in July of this year, after working in the same industry for very close to 36 years. I left school at the age of 16 and went straight into work. I literally left school on the friday and then started work on the following monday morning. And that's where i stayed for the next 36 years.

Now i realise that this makes me fairly unique and also very lucky. Not many people are able, or willing, to stay in the same line of employment for that long. And many more have the decision made for them and are made redundant, laid off, sacked etc etc.
I was also lucky in that i was able to take early retirement, with the agreement of the company. This certainly helped to soften the blow and left me in a better position than some.

But, one potential downside to remaining in the same industry and in the same line of promotion, is that you tend to lose touch with the outside world. I was also in a line of work that was considered to be safe. Obviously, that illusion was shattered for me a few months ago!

So, when i found myself out of work and in need of some form of work. I was totally out of touch with how to go about it.
The fact that you've just lost your job is bad enough. But, the thought of having to find another, after such a long time and in the current economic situation, was not a very encouraging one.

Then there is the added consideration of the circumstances under which you lose your job and the huge dent that this makes to your confidence.
Without going into any detail. I was effectively told that i was not suitable for the new job role that i had to apply for, as my original job description was being fundamentally changed.
I, obviously, disputed the companies reasoning, as i felt that i was a worthy and experienced candidate. But, ultimately they had reached their decision and there was no going back.

As you can probably imagine, i felt rather bitter and even angry about this at the time. But, in hindsight, i now realise that the company might have, quite unwittingly, done me a huge favour.
Maybe, one day, i'll get the chance to thank them?

But, all of that doesn't change the feeling you then get, that you're just not good enough anymore.
Whatever age you are when this happens, it is not very nice. But, when you are in your 50's, there is a very real fear that you may well have been consigned to the scrapheap. At least as far as trying to find a new job is concerned anyway.
Now, that type of thing would, quite understandably, cause a massive loss of confidence for anybody.

Happily for me at least, that huge loss of confidence didn't appear to affect me too much. Yes, at first it was hard to come to terms with and i suspect that it probably affected me more than i actually realised. After all, it is never easy being told that you're considered not to be good enough for something.

So, yesterday's news was very welcome indeed.

The job that i applied for had 52 applicants, for potentially 5 positions. This in itself is a sign of the times, as i can't imagine the job would have got that many applicants in more normal times.
Twelve people were selected for interview. I was, obviously, one of those people. Now, i consider that to be an achievement of sorts.
As i mentioned earlier, i have been out of the job market for so long, that i had not filled in a proper job application form for many, many years.
Believe me, that made me think very hard and was not an easy process at all. So, to get an interview and then to be told that my application form was very good, was a nice boost.

During my recent working life i have interviewed many people. But, to be on the other side of the interview table was a very different prospect.
I don't think anybody likes to be interviewed? You are never quite sure how it is going to turn out and let's face it, some people are far better at being interviewed than others. This can seem to put certain people at a disadvantage. The interviewers themselves can, obviously, make a huge difference to how things turn out as well.
So, to have a good interview was another nice plus point and another confidence booster.

Not having had to get over both the application form and interview hurdles, for many years. Getting through that process was a valuable learning experience, as well as possibly setting me up for the future.
If i ever have to go through this again, i will do so with more knowledge and confidence.

Obviously, the ultimate confidence boost was the one that i got yesterday.
It was only when i started to think about it that i realised that this was actually a big vote of confidence in me.

So many of us go through life thinking that we are not as good as many other people. So, to be told that you are, essentially, better than 48 of those other job applicants can only be a good thing.

I have been as guilty as most people in not thinking positively enough about what i have to offer. Being British can be another disadvantage, as we are notoriously bad at singing our own praises and selling ouselves.

Maybe, now that i've had this big boost of confidence, i can have more faith in my own abilities.

All i need to do now, is to find something that i'm actually good at!

Tuesday 21 September 2010

AudioBoo - Last Day Of Summer?


A walk on the beach, in the sunshine.

Freedom To Read.

Books, libraries, the Internet & learning.
And it's all free.

Support your local library. You never know when you might need it, or want it.

A beach vlog.

Book: John Peel - The Olivetti Chronicles:

Sunday 19 September 2010

AudioBoo - Local Entertainment.


An afternoon spent at a local Festival.
I tried to record some of the music, but it was too distorted on my phone.

Personal Time Management.

How i fill my days & how that has changed, due to recent circumstances.

So, what do you do?

A beach vlog.


Friday 17 September 2010

AudioBoo - No Going Back.


A beach boo.

Where Am I?....

....and do you really care?

This morning i learnt that Facebook had turned on their Facebook Places location device in the UK. Apparently, it's been available in the USA for a while now and is gradually being rolled out across the world. It seems that the UK is one of the first areas to have it enabled. Whether this is a cause for celebration remains to be seen.

This just got me thinking about the whole issue of location applications, or devices and what people actually use them for. And, ultimately, whether they are really of much use to anybody.

There have been several other location based services available for a while now, such as "foursquare" and "Gowalla". But, obviously, now that Facebook have got involved, things have got a little bit more serious.
I suppose that if the big boys have started to get involved in this, the suggestion is that there really must be something in this type of service. I fully expect the other "big boys" not to be too far behind Facebook. After all, they can't afford to be, can they? They are probably all frantically rushing around and finalising their own versions, as i type.

I have seen many Internet friends of mine using foursquare etc over the past year and, to be honest, i just don't "get it". Why do i want to know exactly where somebody is at any given time?
In fact, i've often found those location based status updates to be rather annoying and i've even gone so far as to hide the status feed of one Facebook friend, mainly because of this unwanted information.
I also know of some who have started to use these services and have then come to the same realisation as myself and stopped using them.
So, just who is using location based services and why?

As with most things on the Internet, i suspect that the bulk of users are young. And therein lies one of the probable reasons as to why this doesn't appeal to me, it's not really meant to.

I can see that knowing somebody's location could be very useful, if you were meeting up with them for a night out, or for a coffee for example. And as all updates are done via the GPS system, they are also very accurate.
This could save you missing out on the good times that your friends are having without you.

I can also see how this could be used as a form of security for worried parents. Those location updates might help a parent know where there child is. Mind you, would any self respecting child want their parents to know that?! Joking aside though, this could help prevent some un-needed false alarms, when a child isn't quite where the parent thought that they might be.

But, one security issue that is a potential concern and has come to the fore recently, is the danger of letting everybody, not just your friends, know where you are. Or, to be more accurate, letting the world know that you are not at home. This has already led to some burglaries being committed. Indeed, there was a recent case in the USA of exactly this kind of crime happening.
It has been suggested that some criminal elements and not just in the USA either, have been checking the location status updates of some people and then raiding their homes, when they know they are not there.
In fact, i understand that the recent crime in the USA was actually committed by a "friend".

As with all things on the Internet. It certainly does pay to think about the amount of information you put "out there". As you are never quite sure who might find it and use it.

But, getting back to the point of this blog post.

The loaction based services so far, foursquare and Gowalla etc, are designed to be used on a mobile device. A cell/mobile phone, blackberry, laptop etc etc. But, i would suggest, that the vast majority of Facebook users actually access Facebook whilst at home. So, therefore, where is the real value here for Facebook, apart from trying to knock out the competion?
Yes, i know that Facebook can be accessed easily via a mobile phone app and i've even used the app myself.
But, my first thought, when reading about this this morning, was "Just how many people actually use Facebook on the move". In fact i even Tweeted exactly that point/question.
It was only then that i did a bit of research and found an article suggesting that up to 45% of time spent on the Internet, on moblie devices, is actually spent on Facebook!!!!

Now i get it.
Just don't expect me to start using a location based device, or application any time soon.

By the way, i'm at home.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

AudioBoo - Vroom Vroom.


A new car.

Faster, Faster?

Does change happen faster these days?

Will you get left behind?
The fact that you're watching this video, suggests that you won't. But, many will.

Special guest appearance by Teddy.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Now look what you've gone and done.

Two stories in the news recently have caught my attention and, for me at least, they both show the possible and potential dangers when certain stories get into the mainstream media.

The first, which you may well have guessed already. Is the story of Pastor Terry Jones, of Gainsville, Florida.
I'm sure that we all are pretty familiar with this story now. If you have no idea what i'm talking about, you have either been living under a rock, or out of range of the worlds media. Lucky you, i say.
If this is the case, i suggest you search Google for the answer.

I think the aspect of this particular story that surprised many people, was how a Pastor of a very small congregation (approx 30) can suddenly have the worlds media beating a path to his door?
I suspect the answer lies in the way that other people got involved, or involved themselves, in this story. The very fact that the President of the United States of America and one of his most senior officials felt the need to speak about, or even speak with Pastor Terry Jones, is bound to attract attention. I don't intend to speculate here as to why President Obama decided got involved. Although, i have my own theory.
The last i heard, Pastor Terry Jones, had thankfully decided not to go ahead with his original protest.

The second story, which i heard about on the radio this morning, concerns a young 7 year old girl.
Apparently, the girls parents had been allowing the young girl to cross the road outside of the family home, on her own and then to catch a bus to her school. Nothing too much wrong with that i guess? Especially, when it was explained, by the girls mother, that the road was a very quiet one and that the young girl was very happy with the arrangement.
I know that some people might argue with the girl's parent's decision. But, for the purposes of this blog post anyway, that's an argument for another day.

Well, the local Council got to hear about young girl's arrangements. I have no idea how.
The Council then decided to send a letter to the girl's parent's, effectively telling them that they were not looking after their daughter properly and that they should stop the arrangement forthwith.
My understanding is that the local Council have now backtracked on their decision. Probably because of all of the media coverage and bad publicity for the Council, that this story has generated.

Now, at first glance, it may appear that both of these stories have had happy and probably sensible conclusions. But, in both cases, the damage had been already done before the story concluded.

For example, the parents of the young girl will now have to change their arrangements anyway. This is because every potential child molester and pervert in the UK, now knows that a 7 year old girl might have been standing, on her own, at a quiet bus stop on a country lane. The parents cannot now take the chance of letting their young daughter catching the bus on her own.

The story of Pastor Terry Jones has far more serious consequences. Apart from the fact that many people have already died in demonstrations, around the world, about Pastor Jones and his threatened Koran burning. There are also far longer lasting potential consequences as well.
Because of the world wide media coverage that this story has generated, millions more people now know of it than ever would have done. If certain people had just ignored the mad ramblings of a small town preacher, a world wide problem may well have been averted. Because that is what this has now become, a world wide problem.

Try as the world's media might, to try and brush this whole sorry episode under the carpet. The damage has now been well and truly done.

We all know what happens when allegations are made in the media about certain people, or events. Whether these allegations are correct, or not doesn't matter to many people. They see the original story and that's what sticks in their mind.
I can think of many examples where people have been exposed for an alleged "crime" and it's turned out that the person has been totally innocent of that reported "crime". But, that person has been tainted because of those allegations and often for many years to come as well.
Yes, the newspaper, or whatever, will publish an apology, at a later date. But, nobody sees that, or takes no notice of it.
Once again, the damage has already been done.

And, that's where we are now with both of these stories.

In one, a little girl has had her journey to school changed forever, to protect her safety.
In the other, the USA and potentially the whole western world has had it's reputation damaged and future security threatened.

And all to try and fill up the 24 hour news programmes. Or, because some people just can't keep their mouths shut.

AudioBoo - Startings The Process.


And i didn't even get around to mentioning my job interview on Thursday.

Sunday 12 September 2010

Friday 10 September 2010

AudioBoo: Italian Adventures - Part 2.


My second eventful trip to Italy.

Me And You And An App Named Boo.

I've found yet another way to communicate with the world.
It's called AudioBoo:

This is my AudioBoo page:


Tribute bands eh? Don't you just love them?
Or not, as the case may be.

I've been having some discussions recently, with a musician friend of mine, about tribute bands and their worth. And, because of my involvement, as a compere, at an upcoming local gig, headlined by an AC/DC tribute band, i posted a blog post on the Hastings Rock MySpace site, advertising the event and subsequent gigs as well.

But, after further discussions, since that recent blog post, i decided to share my own personal thoughts about this whole topic and this seemed like the best place to do it.

Anyone who knows me, knows that i am a big music fan and through my involvement as a DJ with Hastings Rock, i've developed a huge appreciation of local music and local musicians generally. But, as a DJ, i've only tended to play original music by those local musicians, rather than any cover versions and that is where my real interest lies.

Like anyone else, i go to pubs and watch the local covers bands doing their stuff and very good the vast majority of them are too. They provide a great service to those who just want to go out, have a few drinks and generally have a good time. And with that i have absolutely no problem at all.

My problem, if that is what it is, is with the, seemingly, ever increasing amount of tribute bands that do the rounds and have probably visited your own town recently.
These are the bands that are effectively a carbon copy version of the real thing. Often going as far as having members who look like the original members and certainly dressing the same as them.  They try to use the same instruments and also copy the stage acts and mannerisms of the original artists.
They also charge you quite a lot of money for the priviledge of seeing them too (I wonder if they have to pay any royalties to the original act? And if not, why not?)

The first band that i remember who fitted into this category, were The Bootleg Beatles. No prizes for guessing who they were copying. I did see them, many years ago and enjoyed them. They even split their set into two parts, to cover different periods of The Beatles career. Complete with a costume change.
Since then, the whole tribute band scene has developed and is now a pretty lucrative business. There are tribute bands to all of the major acts, both from the rock and pop world. These acts can be seen touring all over the UK and beyond. I've even seen whole festivals devoted to rtibute bands.

So, there is obviously a big market for this type of entertainment. But, that doesn't mean that i have to like it.
It's not that iwsh to stop people going out and enjoying themselves. My own problem with all of this is the effect that it might have on the nurturing of up and coming local, original, talent.
The whole world has gone copy cat mad and there is just no room left for new and original music.
I realise that this can be seen a a bit of an exaggeration. But, i do think it does have a noticable effect at a local level.

Local musicians, that i know, speak of their inability to get gigs when showcasing their own, original, music. All of the gigs seem to be taken up by bands doing those crowd pleasing cover versions. And, maybe, that's where, ultimately, the problem lies? People are voting with their feet and with their wallets and saying, "we want to hear familar music".
And, if you're the owner of a venue, the customer is always right. Aren't they?

So, maybe we've only got ourselves to blame for this situation? The problem is, where is all of the future original music going to come from?
And, is this yet another effect of the "X Factor" etc?
Yes, i know that tribute bands have been aroung longer that the "Pop Idol" type of shows. But, maybe those shows have had an effect on the popularity of the many tribute bands around and actually helped to increase their number?

Years ago the tribute bands that were around, like The Bootleg Beatles, seemed to only copy those acts that you just could not see. Whether that be The Beatles, The Doors, or Led Zeppelin etc, who had split up and therefore could not tour anymore. Or, maybe, some of those really big bands who toured infrequently and often only in huge arenas, miles from home and who were, quite frankly, past their prime anyway.

These days, just about everyone seems to have a tribute band based on them. It's probably become almost a badge of honour amongst acts, to have your own tribute band.

And that brings up another aspect to this whole topic.
I can understand why people might want to go and see a good tribute band, for an act like Led Zeppelin, or The Beatles. Those acts, as i said before, that it's just not possible to see live anymore, for whatever reason.
But, i can't see the same attraction in going to see a tribute of an act that is stil going strong, still in their prime and still available to see. For example, a local venue in my hometown recently booked a tribute act to the Kings Of Leon. I have no idea how many people turned up on the night. But, i wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't a roaring success.

I suppose that it could be argued that by going to see the tribute act, of an existing band, that you are getting an approximation of the original band and at least you don't have to sit through all of those boring new album tracks, that you've never heard before! But, personally i'd rather save up and make the effort to go and see the real thing.

As for those bands who are no longer in their prime, or who just don't exist anymore. Maybe, those good tribute bands are a worthy substitute?
After all, what you get to see is a re-creation of whichever band, in their prime and playing a greatest hits set. A band that you quite possibly never had the chance to see in their heyday.

I was lucky enough to see Led Zeppelin in their prime, The Who with Keith Moon, AC/DC with Bon Scott and Lynyrd Skynyrd before the plane crash and i would not wish to spoil those good memories, by paying to see a re-creation of those days.
And maybe, that is at the heart of my objections?

Having said that, is a tribute band any worse than a band using the original name, but having very few, if any, original members in the existing line up? To me, that is just plain wrong.

I've just read that Big Country are re-forming. Despite the fact the band's founder, singer, songwriter and main guitarist, Stuart Adamson, died 9 years ago. WTF?
To me that is just as ridiculous as The Jam without Paul Weller, Thin Lizzy without Phil Lynott, The Doors without Jim Morrison and just in case they get any ideas, Led Zeppelin without Robert Plant.

Just don't get me started on that one!

Saturday 4 September 2010

The Cabinet Minister, His Aide And The Media.

I came home from holiday on Tuesday and stumbled into the back end of a "news" story about the British Foreign Secretary and one of his aides.
I can't pretend to know the full details of this story, which apparently started on the Internet and then found it's way into the national newspapers. But, it seems to centre around the fact that the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, had shared a twin bedded room with his male aide, during the general election campaign earlier this year.
The aide, who is considerably younger than William Hague, has since resigned from his position.

Now, for anyone not familiar with this news item, you might be forgiven for thinking "where's the story here and why has the aide resigned?"

Well, the "story", such as it is, is that William Hague has been married for a number of years now and still doesn't have any children. And we all know what that must mean don't we, boys and girls?

The insinuation is that if you've been married for many, childless, years and you share a bedroom with a young male colleague, well then you must be.... gay. Shock, horror!

These insinuations and rumours circulated so much that William Hague felt that he needed to issue a statement denying that he was gay, or had ever had a relationship with a man.
Worse than that, in my eyes anyway, he felt compelled to tell the world exactly why he and his wife had not yet had any children.
His wife has apparently suffered a number of miscarraiges during their marraige. The latest one being earlier this year, i believe.

I'm sure that i'm not alone in feeling a great deal of sympathy for Mr Hague and his wife, for feeling that he had to divulge this, very personal, information. I'm also a little dumbstruck as to why he felt that he needed to say as much as he did.
After all, do we really need to know such personal details?

I guess this raises a number of issues?

The first, for me, is the way that the press will often put two and two together and make several hundred. And all in the "interests" of column inches and increased sales.

A supposed sex scandal, involving a cabinet minister, will always attract attention and lead to a rise in the sales of your newspaper. The poor victim of the story then has to defend themselves, even if there is no real evidence of any wrong doing in the first place.
If they do not say anything, they are then presumed as "gulity" and if they do say something, that can just help the story to rumble on and on.
It seems a little ironic to me that since Mr Hague's very personal statement, the story seems to have died a death and has been quietly forgotten by the very media that created it in the first place.
It's a pity that Mr Hague doesn't feel that he can persue these false accusations in the courts. But, being a current cabinet minister probably stops him from feeling that he can do that.

Secondly. I find it rather unsettling that there is still a real preoccupation with whether certain people are gay, or not. I thought we'd moved on from those bad old days where people felt that they needed to, or had to, hide their sexuality?
The media's, especially the press', willingness to endlessly persue any supposed story with a gay angle, is something that i find hard to take. Being gay is not a crime anymore and the press and media need to wake up and fully realise that fact.
I'm sure that if these accusations had concerned a female employee, the handling of the story would have been completely different. The general tone would have been along the lines of "well done mate, get in there".

I happened to mention in a Tweet this morning, that maybe William Hague was actually trying to save the country and us taxpayers some money, by sharing a room with a colleague? And when you consider the amount of column inches devoted to the MP's expenses scandal, earlier this year, you can see why he may have felt that way. MP's have probably become rather paranoid about spending any public money on themselves.
Even if this is not the explanation for his actions that night, maybe it should become government policy, wherever possible? After all, i'm sure not everyone really needs a single room?

During the ensuing Twitter conversation that i had about this subject. I happened to mention that i had shared a room with many men over the years and have even shared a room with a gay man before. Now, to the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever accused me of being gay. So, why should this happen to an MP?

If the press and the media generally are going to make these insinuations about a persons sexuality anytime something like this happens. Is it any wonder that ordinary citizens may not wish to become MP's in the first place?

Just think of the many talented, potential MP's we could be losing because of this antiquated attitude of the media. We need the right people to run this country for us and we need to make sure that those people are able to do their job without, improper, interference.

Many spy scandals in the past have been caused, at least partially, because of a persons sexuality and the problems that may be caused if that persons sexuality was revealed.
As i said before, being gay is not now against the law. But, you wouldn't know that sometimes.

Surely the safety, security, economy and future of this country is more important than a persons sexuality?
If it isn't, then maybe i should just close the door on my way out?

Starry, Starry Night.

Light pollution & the night sky.
Some recent experiences.

What's it like where you live?

A, lying on my back on the beach, vlog

AudioBoo - Your 15 Minutes Is Up


"Fame" happens in the most unlikely places.

Friday 3 September 2010

Wednesday 1 September 2010

A Spanish Vlog.

Recorded on holiday in Orgiva, Andalucia.

After a week in it's bag, i decided to get my video camera out & go for a walk up a dried up river valley.

I did record a couple more vlogs whilst out walking. They should follow soon.