Friday, 28 April 2017


Hard on the heels of flying cars and flying boats, we now have a flying man.

Imagine having an itch on your nose when using this contraption. Come to think of it, how does Ironman scratch his nose?

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Flying Slaves

Another flying object makes a debut, but this tie something that makes a bit more sense - a flying boat (if you could call it a boat).

Bristol's Colston Hall, a music venue / concert hall, is to be renamed after a refurb. Edward Colston, who was a local philanthropist in the 18th century, is commemorated all over Bristol with a school and various other amenities named after him - but he was a slave trader. Some of the Bristolian Afro-Caribbean inhabitants took exception to the name Colston appearing on the music venue and Massive Attack have actually refused to play there till the name is changed.

Yes, Edward Colston was a slave trader, but you can't simply rewrite history and eliminate people from the civic roll. I'm sure the Irish would love nothing more than for Cromwell's name - wherever it might appear - to be consigned to the history books alone, but that ain't going to happen; there's even a statue of him outside Parliament. It's basically a rerun of last year's campaign for the removal of Rhodes' starue from Oriel College Oxford.

If historic slave trade associations are anathema, we'll have to close the vast majority of stately homes too. One of our nob neighbours here is the Duke of Beaufort; one of his ancestors voted against the abolition of the slave trade, so are we to rename every Beaufort Arms pub here in South Gloucestershire and in Monmouthshire as a consequence?

Slave trading is bad - we all accept and know that today, but you can't judge times past by the morals prevailing today - practically everyone was a white supremacist a few hundred years ago. Slave trading was simply something we - and Africans - engaged in at one stage in our past. We also created empires, which today are viewed with distaste by most (although not some Brexiteers) - the entire Roman Empire was run using slaves - primarily European ones - but we aren't calling for Hadrian's Wall to be renamed.

Can you imagine Trump Towers being renamed to something less offensive after Trump gets impeached? Of course not. Mind you, there aren't too many Hitler commemorative libraries in Germany.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Zen and the Art of Flying Small God Scammers

So Robert Persig has died. I pulled Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance off the bookshelf yesterday and will read it again, once I've finished re-reading Terry Ptatchett's Small Gods. I remember it with fondness when I last read it, which must be a decade ago.

Yet another flying car has made a test flight.

But, again, I ask myself - who on earth wants to drive a 3 wheeler?

The scammers are active again, so beware. Hayley received a call today purporting to be from BT. A guy with a thick Indian accent, who said he was called John Smith, said there was a problem with our internet and was trying to get her to download something on her computer. He was very threatening and claimed our service would be cut off if she didn’t follow his instructions. Hay knew immediately that it wasn’t BT – their customer service is so crap that it couldn’t possibly be them. Takes you all day to get someone on the phone if you do have a problem - the thought of them phoning you is risible.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Stereophonics

I have a Bose Soundlink speaker that's attached to the TV (due to the TV's own speakers being abysmal) and I also use its Bluetooth functionality to connect my phone for playing music. However, while the sound quality of the Bose is fantastic, it isn't a stereo speaker, a drawback that only struck me over the weekend when I wanted the full stereo experience on ZZ Top's La Grange. 

I had a quick shufti (do people still use that expression?) on Amazon for Bluetooth stereo speakers and found a plethora of devices which looked no different to mine. They're actually advertised as a stereo Bluetooth speaker, in the singular and not in the plural.

Now what is the benefit of an allegedly stereo speaker that's a single box? Unless these speakers are ventriloquistically-enabled (?) and can throw their sound simultaneously in two different directions, what's the point? For the real McCoy you'd surely need two boxes that can be spatially separated by a few yards at least, not just one box 16cm wide with two speakers? You'd have to have the damned thing next to your head to experience any stereo effect, much in the manner of the old Brixton briefcase - or am I  missing something here?

Monday, 24 April 2017


Overheard while trying to find the right path in Lower Woods Nature Reserve in Wickwar yesterday:

Hay: "There's another path over there."

Chairman: "Yes, there are two paths you can go by..."

Hay: "But in the long run there's still time to change the road you're on..."

Chairman: "And it makes me wonder."

Hay has been trying to persuade me for a long time to  cut down on the mowing in our garden by just mowing paths and leaving the rest to nature. Given I have a ride-on mower I've resisted, but spotting this example yesterday has made me reconsider. It all depends on getting wild flowers to seed in the unmown areas.

Just two lanes wide.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Next Election

Mrs May has staked out her wares in the elections game by declaring the Tories as the party of low taxation; however, the irony is that the NHS and care for our elderly are under intense pressure and she wants to give the electorate, rather than critical services, more money. The double irony is that the electorate, which believes the NHS to be sacrosanct, will probably fall for it. Mrs May is betting on the electorate saying one thing in public but doing another in the privacy of the voting booth. and if the referendum was anything to go by, she's probably on to a winner - after all, Brexit is already inflating the weekly shopping bill and the purse is mightier than the mouth.

That said, a few quid in tax rebates to help with the shopping bill isn't going to cut the mustard when the bill for your private health insurance, or massive the bill from the hospital, lands on the doorstep. It's indisputable that the countries with the highest level of tax enjoy the highest quality of life - just look at Scandinavia.

In going for the public's Achilles Heel, she's exposed her jugular to the other parties. No wonder she doesn't want to take part in a televised election debate.

Had to call in at Next yesterday morning with Hay to drop an item of hers off (I swear she returns 90% of what she orders on-line - if she kicked the bucket tomorrow I'd still be returning stuff on her behalf for a year). During the return process, the checkout girl said; "And have you got anything planned today?" in that voice which conveyed the fact she had been instructed by head office to say that (all the Next staff say it), but wasn't actually the least bit interested. She hadn't bargained for Hayley, who launched into a monologue about the Village Hall Comedy Night, much to the dismay of the women in the queue behind her.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Village Hall Comedy Night

Spent yesterday evening preparing the Village Hall for our annual Village Comedy Night tonight. 

Three course meal and a couple of hours of ribald fun for £25 a head - bargain! Hay, unfortunately, will be working in the kitchen preparing the food. There's usually about 3 comedians - last year we were all in absolute stitches and it was a close run thing between whether the Scouse comedian or the Geordie was the best.

There's a rumour that the acts this year will represent the major political parties...

No sooner do I get my new Galaxy S8 Plus than there's a software update from Vodafone. Should I be worried? Found a nice email app - Aqua Mail - I've combined my Gmail and work email into the one app. Looks and feels like desktop Outlook (the app version of Outlook is utter garbage) and the only thing you can't do is drag an email to a nested subfolder in one action. There's even the ability to give different accounts a different notification sound, so you can ignore work emails over the weekend and at nights.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Tech Update

Well, I received the Galaxy S8 Plus yesterday morning. I've jumped from a Galaxy Note 4 to a Galaxy S8 Plus by way of a Galaxy S7 Egde within 7 months, but I don't really notice much of a difference except that:
  1. With each increment the phone gets vastly more expensive,
  2. Each increment is easier and quicker to configure to my desired state, complete with all my apps, data and settings (down from a day to a couple of hours), and
  3. I don't seem to be able to accomplish much more that I did with the Note 4.
The S8 Plus has moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phone, which makes it awkward to use, especially when you have a case on it. The retinal scan security feature would be great, if I didn't wear glasses. To be brutally honest, I don't think the S8 Plus has any advantage over the S7 Edge - in fact it's a slightly retrograde step. I do miss the Note's S Pen and there's no way I've found to recover any voluminous S Notes I wrote on the S7 Edge.

One small advantage is that it supports USB 3.1, meaning the micro-USB charging cable can be inserted either way up. However, it also means I have to replace the cables for the car (although it does come with a small adapter so you can use your old charging cables, but that's just something else to lose between the seat and transmission tunnel, along with vast numbers of pound coins that reside there). You can charge it with an induction charging pad, but that's just a faddy thing and no real advantage. At rest state overnight, it loses about 1% of the battery per hour - which isn't bad. I have read that if you set the device up before inserting the SIM, it does an automatic factory reset the second you insert the SIM - no mention of this in the instructions. Also, the battery is once again integral and can't be removed if you have a battery issue.

I'm certainly not going to root this jobbie before I'm 100% sure it doesn't have an intrinsic fault.

One thing I have become aware of is the different qualities of leather used on phone cases. I bought one from Amazon that was advertised as 'genuine leather'. Now genuine leather is actually only one, small step up from PU leather - it is the lowest quality and thinnest hide. What I should have been looking for is full-grain leather. What I got was cheap and nasty; it certainly wasn't worth £18.99 and looks nothing like the photo on the advert. Just a few quid more would have purchased a full-grain leather one.

It is a relief, however, to hand back the Vodafone courtesy phone, which prevented me doing even the most basic tasks due to the lack of storage memory.

As an aside, I installed an Amazon Fire Stick on my neighbour's TV the other day. She was fed up paying £40-£60 odd a pop for TV series box sets, so I introduced her to the delights of Amazon Prime Video. Since installing the Fire Stick she's not been seen. I suspect she's been watching back-to-back episodes of Black Sails, Vikings and The Bureau. I do like its neat voice-enabled search capability - searching for films or TV programmes using a TV remote is a pain in the arse.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Remember that hardware issue I had with a 6 month old Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge that I'd rooted and flashed with Android Nougat? Well, after submitting a letter to Vodafone whereby I  informed them that a 2 year, EU, statutory hardware warranty existed on the phone, regardless of having rooted it, I received a phone-call last week from Vodafone telling me I qualified for an upgrade, despite having upgraded already last October. Regardless of my protests that I wasn't due an upgrade, the customer services rep said there was no record of me upgrading in October, so I went with it.

OK, it cost me £50 up-front, but later this morning I'm due to receive the latest Galaxy S8 Plus - much cheaper than paying £235 for a new circuit board for the S7 Edge. Vodafone didn't actually admit liability for the old phone, so I guess this is a face-saving way of admitting I was right, without having to actually say so - and possibly opening the floodgate to warranty claims on rooted phones.

If I don't get my original phone back I'll know for certain that is the case. If I do, I'll have a spare phone to sell.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Hypocritical Shopping for a Flying Reliant Robin

Last month Mrs May said; "Another Scottish Independence referendum at this time will detract from the Brexit negotiations." What will a General Election do? I smell the overwhelming stench of hypocrisy. If anything suggests we're ripe for absolute, fixed term parliaments (never mind about 2/3rds majority), this is it. While politicians may enter parliament with all manner of good intentions and a desire to serve the country, power nevertheless corrupts and soon the survival of the party becomes the first priority. It's a consequence of the human condition combined with the party system.

A Dutch company has developed what is says is the world's first flying car. If you ask me, it looks more like the world's first flying Reliant Robin. Wouldn't want to use this for cornering at anything more than 20you end up woth something  MPH on those pram wheels.

Four wheels good, three wheels bad.

What with take-off and landing more than likely to be restricted to registered airports (can't see the police being happy with you taking off from and landing on the M4), it's not going to be a democratic nor inexpensive mode of transport. Might as well have a private helicopter.

The problem that usually manifests when you try to design something that accomplishes two totally different tasks is that you end up with something not really suited to either.

Thought I'd reached peak self-congratulation yesterday. I went to do some shopping and had left Hay's shopping list behind at home. I tried remembering what was on the list and, unusually for me, had perfect recall. When I got home Hay asked where the toilet paper and kitchen paper were - I'd left them on the side in Lidl and never put them through the checkout.