The fall and rise of the goggly box.

I remember a time, long long ago, when we had three television channels, no VCR, 90 minutes of children’s television, and the remote involved my brother throwing things at me with increasing force until I got up and pressed the button that offered a choice of two.

Sometimes it was more entertaining to change the channel than to watch the cherished programming that started with Dr Snuggles and ended with Crackerjack.

And then came the imaginatively name Channel 4, which was the first grains of sand of the landslide towards content saturation.  We didn’t see it coming at first.  BSB and BSkyB brought up the simpsons, which was…different, if not great,  and SKY gave us foreign shit, like RTL, a slightly larger remote, and later a hard disk recorder.  But with new channels simply diluting the good content, disbursing it further, and making it harder to find.  I seems that there is little more quality content now than there was back in the days of three channels and no VCR.  It’s just a bugger to find.

And finally the small trickily of sand turned into a landslide of content, with the occasional gem stone hidden in the shale.

But finally we come full circle.  After two decades of increasing choice, one or two channels have collected some of the better content into simple on demand services.  No more do we have to choose carefully between BBC1 and ITV for 90 minutes, channel hopping to find the best available TV.  We no longer have to juggle tapes and scower the radio times, hungry for the occasional decent program.  It’s all on my on demand service.

But even now, why do on demand services only have content over 2 years old.  Why am I still hunting for decent TV programmes, and why is there still only crap on most of the channels most of the time.

Let’s face it, we like watching TV, but it’s awfully hard to find TV that I like to watch. (199)

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The war on obesity is a big fat lie!

I AM THE AVERAGE ANGRY AMERICAN….AND I’M TIRED…

The war on obesity is a big fat lie! I am so tired over this sham of a war on obesity. PLEASE nobody cares if your fat what they care about is that you’re costing them money. Here’s the truth no one wants to speak….the problem is NOT obesity it’s ECONOMICS and I am angry at anyone saying otherwise. You want a real war, you want to fix a real problem, fix the socio-economic situation that has the poor eating happy meals and the wealthy having private chefs/nutritionists.

This whole obesity is costing us money is bullshit! Being über skinny costs us money too, it’s just private money not public money and that’s the REAL issue at war here. Think about it, you never see fat rich people. Why, because they can afford the nutritionist and the personal trainer, THEY NEVER HAVE TO EAT KENTUCKY FIRED CHICKEN!!! Though I’m sure if they craved some there chef would love to “bake” them some. If they were fat, they were poor, they got rich and they got skinny…Rosanne Barr, Cathy Najimy, Oprah Winfrey, Ricki Lake…get the picture. I am so freakin angry that the oligarchy of this country want you to believe they have your best interest at heart. Oh please, they have their wallets at heart. Has anyone ever added up the cost of healthcare for knee replacements, hip replacements, chiropractors, and all other “getting in shape” injury care. NO! And why not? BECAUSE THEY HAVE INSURANCE.
It’s not fat and skinny, it’s rich and poor and I am so angry that people pretend it to be otherwise!

I’m not saying anyone should ever weigh 400 lbs, but what about the people who are 6 feet tall and 100lbs? Why isn’t anyone having a war on the skin and bone anorexics? How about the “I need to smoke to stay too skinny” models? Where’s the public outcry for their health. It was a breeze banning trans fats, why? No money in it! Tobacco…need I say more. And while I’m ranting about the painfully thin supermodel, when was the last time a super model was discovered in a developed nation? Their not, their from POOR countries. They are not from the land of plenty that’s for sure. I am so freaking angry at the double standard…hell there is no standard other then the gold one.

For Pete’s sake STOP telling me it’s a health issue. STOP lying to me about how your trying to save my life. My obese grandmother lived to the wonderful age of 98 and she never jogged, pilatied, or touched a treadmill in her life! It’s simple economics…If the wealthy have to pay for it, and it in NO WAY benefits them, then they want it stopped. They declare war and put an end to it. Here’s a thought, lower the price of salmon to the price of a double whopper and more people will be thinner and healthier. Give people a living wage to buy chicken that is NOT FRIED and the war is over.

I am fucking tired…maybe I just need a nap (59)

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Egotistical games developers make me angry

I enjoy a good computer game. Most of the games I’ve played tend to be reasonably anti-social, either you blast the crap out of everything that moves or they are very competitive (such as sports games). The exception to this has been the collaborative, non-violent games. Yep I know how can a game be any good it it’s not competitive and there is no gore. Well it turns out that if you add Lego into the mix this can be achieved.

And the best thing about these non-aggressive, U-rated, lego collaborative games is that my wife loves to play them with me. All of a sudden the PS3 is no longer the new golf when it comes to marriages (even though my missus loves to play the ancient and honorable sticks and eggs as well).

But and there is a huge BUT here. These lego games are no longer just about running around a pseudo 3D world of bricks filled will little Lego characters, now they are filled with absolutely horrible little movie vignettes. It can now feels like fifteen minutes from turning on the console to breaking your first lego brick while you watch corny and tedious segments from a movie rendered with the worst possible levels of creative acting and script work. And the creators of these games in their annoying style don’t even give you the option to skip these scenes.

Acting is a skill best left to professionals, it’s an art, and even most of its leading practitioners are not so good at it. So when games developers try, it’s not a pleasant experience. And forcing you to watch their work before you can progress to the actual game play, is beyond frustrating.

These little movie scenes are now getting longer and worse. And in the latest cut of this genre (Lego Batman 2) the characters have progressed from making little grunts to actually talking, and this is infinitely worse. This may be the last Lego game we play unless they either; get better at movie making or just add a skip option to the video scenes.

How difficult can it be to actually think about your user when you create? I may be forced to retreat to the anti-social single play destroy everything that moves games in the future, and my wife will have to just play solitaire on the ipad. Either that or well have to forget computer games and actually do something non-digital together (gasp).

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I’m Angry about the baiting and switchery of air travel.

What was included is now an extra. They now charge you extra for checked bags, that’s been happening for a while of course, and we have sort of become used it. It’s sort of like getting used to being punched in the face, I’m sure if you knew that every time you left your house someone would lay a fist between your eyes, you would on some level get used to it, but I cannot imagine ever getting to the point where you accept it as reasonable. That’s how I feel about being charged for carrying luggage on a plane.

You’re going somewhere a significant distance from where you live, and you going there for more that a few hours. It’s reasonable to expect to carry luggage, and it is unreasonable to be charged an extra lump of readies to do this. Okay if your taking well above the normal, I can see the cost issue and a fair charge is reasonable. But there must be a reasonable expectation of some luggage, there used to be! Some airlines are still “allowing” you to carry the first bag for free, but the path has been forged and this is slowly being eroded.

It’s as unreasonable as being charged extra for your carry-on bag, or being changed extra for a seat with enough room to be able to sit for the length of the flight without losing the feeling below the knees because there isn’t now enough room for an average set of legs. Or being charged extra for using the dunnie, or for being charged extra for a crap meal. All of these are being tested by airlines today.

And it seems that the airlines have realized this, since one thing is unreasonable and people have accepted it, then why not charge for every other possible unreasonable thing. They are trying it out, and guess what the flying public (having no choice) is accepting it.

For most flights you don’t choose the airline, you choose the destination. And given that there is normally very little choice as to which airline you use to go from A to B, you just accept their crappy service.

On the few occasions where I have a choice of airline, and given that normally the prices are almost identical, I choice based on which airlines have screwed me least in the past. It seems that the best an airline of today can offer is to suck least.

And what about the fuel surcharges. The moment crude oil prices increased the airlines passed on the cost to the passengers. But as the prices came down again it seems they forgot to reduce or remove these surcharges. For many flights now the surcharges and extra costs actually are greater than the posted cost of the flight itself.

I know airlines are having a very tough time, but I suspect this is not going to be fixed by screwing the customer. Paraphrasing the words of a very astute management consultant (Peter Drucker) “The purpose of a business is to create and keep customers, only when they are doing this well should they should look at cost an efficiency”. I’d suggest the airline industry has lost sight of the customer.

There are some examples of excellence in the airline industry, and these airlines are the ones that are profitable, safe, efficient and have happy customers, but I think they are focused on keeping their customers happy and then the others accolades are a consequence of that.


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When Barnes and Noble go out of business it will be my fault

I love to read, but finding the right book or group of books is challenging. I find the New York Times bestseller list pretty useless, as it’s written for such a broad audience that 99.5% of its recommendations just don’t do it for me. I read the book section every week and normally find a couple that sound good, but when I start to read the books they were written about, I generally find that in long form the stories either suffer from annoying writers traits or just are tedious.

I’m not a fan of overly flowery descriptions of people or places, or tedious descriptions of family trees, so books about girls with dragon tattoos are totally out. Basically I like stories with guns, tech, weird worlds or things that go too fast. I think that’s a pretty standard bloke requirement for reading matter. But it can be incredibly hard to find good ones. Obviously anything by Gaiman or Pratchett works, but outside of that I find I need to evaluate books carefully.

Once I’ve found a book that sounds along the right kind of a line, I find the best method of confirming if I’ll enjoy reading it from cover to cover, is to randomly open it at a page and read a couple of paragraphs. This ensures that you avoid books that have a good start, but fail by the third chapter. And ensures that you are very unlikely to ruin the story, as randomly selected paragraphs by themselves don’t often tell you who did it or why.

To do this I visit actual bookstores. And since the only chain left seems to be Barnes and Noble, I do visit their stores and trawl their bookshelves. But I never ever purchase books from them, with the exception of the odd technical manual that I may want quickly to fix a specific issue, and am willing to waive the lower price of Amazon for immediacy.

There are several reasons why they don’t get my business. Firstly they are expensive unless you join their loyalty discount program. And since this costs a yearly fee, and I have no faith in their medium to long term viability, I have not done so.

But secondly I read most of my books now on an Amazon Kindle, and not a Barnes and Noble nook. And while travelling around the city or on planes I download audio books from audible.com. So instead of purchasing books at B&N I just photograph the desired book covers on my phone, and pick them up later online.

Every time I do this I know I am killing a little bit of the last bookstore chain in the country. And that one day when they are gone, I will regret their passing, but the simple fact is, I don’t want to carry physical books around with me, and their online services are less suitable for me that the others I do use.

I love real books, and I think I’ll always prefer reading from paper than in any of the various e-forms (my secrets out). But e just works better for portability and accessibility. It’s there when I need it and it’s cheaper to boot.

With a kindle book I can read it on the kindle, my laptop, my phone or my ipad and even move between all the devices. With audible books it’s on my phone, in my car, on my iPod and even in the bathroom when I’m having a bath.

Barnes and Noble do offer me a great service, for which I pay them absolutely nothing. They will die and I will miss them. Sad but true.

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