Cumbria.

2014, Year Of Change!

So! It’s day two of my new and improved life.

Well, I say day two but really it’s day one as I didn’t actually post anything yesterday, regardless though today’s the day that I’m going to list my new year’s resolutions. Exciting stuff. huh? Hmm, well.

My first resolution is to lose weight and get fitter. I used to be 13 stone something and could run up three flights of stairs without losing breath. Now I’m almost seventeen stone and can barely make it to the stairs.

The aim is to be fourteen stone exactly by the beginning of August, with will power that is achievable.

My second wish, er, resolution is to do more of what I’m doing right now; blogging. Also vlogging is something I’m intrigued by so I’ll be making a vlog of this too, although when I’ll have the nerve to publish it I don’t know. Soon though my pretties, soon.

Resolution number three is to record an EP. When I were a lad EP’s were always four tracks long, so that’s the goal, four songs of joy and merriment, written, performed and recorded by me. With maybe one cover too. A bonus track if you will.

My final goal for the year is to write a screenplay. I’ve got a few ideas for movies kicking around in my noggin, one about an alien scientist that saves the world from invasion, one about a werewolf in the wild west and of course I’ve still got all my ideas for a Doctor Who origin movie.

That last one will be familiar to a lot of people as it’s my favourite method of boring people when they’re trapped on trains or in elevators or meetings with me.

Whatever it is I want to get a 120 page screenplay finished in 2014.

There is a fifth and final aim for the year but I can’t really talk about that yet, suffice to say though when it happens things are going to be mighty exciting at Douglas Towers.

Daley and Hazel.

Is Hazel And Daley’s Big Brother Incident Clear Cut?

Having just watched the Big Brother Hazel and Daley debacle I have this to say; Big Brother should have thrown them both out.

Daley was out of order for what he did, he was aggressive and physical, and he shouldn’t have been; drunk or not. Additionally his behaviour the following day was that of an abusive partner. Very scary.

That said, Hazel’s constant game playing and behaviour was obviously going to lead to some adverse reaction at some point. She was very clearly attempting to manipulate him. It’s also interesting that on his exit Daley’s comments about Hazel’s devious nature were the first vocalisation of his feelings about her, and also the first time we got confirmation that he knew she was playing him.

What’s worse is that he was right she is a devious woman, she’s a dangerous woman and above all else she’s a manipulative woman. It must have been a successful tactic for her up to this point in her life, and Daley’s ejection will see her given an additional angle with which to manipulate others, which she will take.

Big Brother's Hazel O'Sullivan, victim.

Hazel O’Sullivan, victim.

We’ve already seen her confide in the only gay man in the house. She knows how to deal with men. Women don’t buy it. Men do, gay or otherwise. Whilst in no way did she deserve it, Hazel is now playing the victim in an incident that she both started and fueled.

She has managed to give the impression of being open and honest by telling Dan what happened, in a rapid, machine gun manner, quickly adding, after her revelation about her sexual assault on Daley; “I got a warning because they have to be fair.”. Not that she got a warning because she too did something wrong but because it was a matter of balance? Curious idea that.

Not only that but she also managed – by way of her uncharacteristic coyness about telling the house what happened – to contrive a means of the story being retold to the house by someone who is generally trusted and without an axe to grind, someone who will be seen as beyond the reach of her manipulation by dint of his sexuality, someone who is thought to be wise, shrewd and capable of seeing through people.

Yet more manipulation.

Big Brother's Daley Ojuederie, victim of a different kind.

Daley Ojuederie, victim of a different kind.

It’s interesting to see that although it has been mentioned on the show, very little mention is now being made of Hazel’s sexual assault on Daley elsewhere? She pulled down his pants. Had he done that to her there would have been an intervention straight away, not afterwards.

What I would say about Daley is that – according to his Big Brother biography – he grew up in care, I would imagine that would colour his behaviour when people threaten him – in whatever manner. What happens when you’re young imprints on your entire personality.

Not that I am in anyway trying to excuse his behaviour but Daley’s probably had to fight for a lot in his life. By which I mean fight not struggle.

Ultimately though the producers of Big Brother have generated this situation. They should have known this sort of thing could happen if they were both put into the safe house. They are culpable for stoking the tensions that lead to this.

Currys PC Word. Doh.

Where In The World? Well, Not PC World

So people think that the high street is on its arse. I wonder why that is? It could be because of shit like this.

Having decided that the Surface Pro is the next laptop/tablet for me I – rather rashly – decided that it might be a good idea to go and see one. Unfortunately I thought PC World might be my best bet. What a mistake.

Arriving at PC World with my little daughter in tow I was approached by an earnest young man.

“Can I help you.”, he said without a trace of irony.

“Do you have the Surface Pro?”, I said, dooming myself to disappointment.

“No. We don’t stock it.”, there was a brief pause. “We’ve got the regular Surface though!”. Clearly this was an inspired after thought.

“Er, no, I want the Pro thanks.”.

“Right. Ok.”, and with that he was gone.

So as disappointed as I was to find out that the Surface Pro would not be fondled with today I thought I’d take a look around anyway. On making my way to the bright yellow reduced section, I passed a gaggle of assistants. “Are you alright sir?”, their leader chimed.

In for a penny in for a pound. “I don’t suppose you’ve got the Surface Pro do you?”, a look of confusion shot across their faces. “The Microsoft Surface Pro? The MIcrosoft Tablet?”, I helpfully added.

“Ah right, no. It’s online only.”, two answers down. How many more to go I wondered. I didn’t need to wait long for the answer.

A third genius piped up, ” No, we’re out of stock, we usually have one in stock.”, I could tell when he said one, he meant one, singular. That was the maximum stock level. One.

“Nah, er, we’ve got one out the back, innit.”, said one of the lackeys. Yes, he actually said innit.

“Great! Can I see it?”, I enthusiastically blurted.

The leader’s face contorted with concern. “Is it opened?!”. Clearly an opened unit wouldn’t do, not at all.

The young upstart was quick. “We’ve got to open it for display anyway.”, he revealingly said.

An interesting one this. Their last unit – or as I later discovered, only unit – was to be opened and put on display. Gosh. I’m lucky. I thought. So off he traipsed to the out back and I merrily waited by the monitors.

And waited.

And waited.

Then after noting to myself the lack of 21:9 ratio monitors – my next purchase after a Surface Pro -I rationalised there was little point in asking any of the sales assistants why this was lest I get a blank yet withering stare, I decided to wait a bit more.

Eventually my enthusiastic young defender arrived. “Sorry. We sold it this morning.”. Great.

“Really?”, my incredulity at their stock management system’s lack of tracking, audible in my voice. “It’s gone?”

“Yeah.”, he was deeply concerned. “We’ve got the Surface RT though?”. As impressed as I was that he knew it was called the Surface RT I wasn’t prepared to be squeezed down that particular line.

“I’m sure you do. You’ll have them for a long time to come too!”, the gag whizzed past his right ear, impacting against a reduced stock display basket full of bright pink JVC earphones.

“I can show you them. We’ve got a few of them in stock.”, I chanced my arm with my next comment.

“Yep, and that’s where they’ll stay.”

“No, they’re just over here.”, he motioned me towards an anemic looking Surface RT, chained to the counter by not one but two alarms.

“I. Don’t. Want. A. Surface RT.”, I enunciated clearly. “I want a Surface Pro.”

“Right. Well, what we can do is”, deep breath here guys, “if you buy a Surface Pro today, we’ll have it here by Tuesday or Wednesday and you can come back in and have a look at it and if you don’t like it we can get you a refund.”. Not a hint of irony. Not a smirk. That was a serious suggestion.

That. That. That. That was his solution to my problem.

I could buy one today. Come back on Tuesday or Wednesday and if I didn’t like it, I could go through the hassle of a refund. Brilliant.

“No. I don’t think so. Thanks.”, and with that I left.

PC World next time you wring your hands and moan about Internet retailers stealing your trade, remember this tale. This is your only advantage and you’re fucking it up by maintaining appalling stock levels and, worse, charging a premium for it.

Let’s look at this catalogue of disaster shall we PC World? In one thirty minute period you told me:

  • You don’t stock the Surface Pro.
  • The Surface Pro is online only.
  • You only ever have one Surface Pro stock.
  • You have a Surface Pro out the back.
  • The one Surface Pro you stock has been sold.

Realistically I give you five years. Ten at the most. Then you’re gone. It’s not quite suicide but at the very least it’s death by misadventure.

If you want to survive get your act together. Seriously. Get your act together. You’re an embarrassment to retail.

The NSA's badge.

Is PRISM The Darker Side Of The NSA?

Broadly speaking the adage that if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to be afraid of, is something I agree with. That said what I’ve been reading about PRISM is more than a little worrying.

The collection and collation of data from almost every major provider on the web, by a foreign power, is terrifying in the extreme. Not because of anything I’ve said or done but because of the potential for the rules to change, for the data they’ve already collected to retrospectively become suspect, for my life to be turned upside down by a change in the rules.

President Obama has of course addressed the good people – or folks as he would no doubt have it – of the United States of America to stress that PRISM – which is one of the most far-reaching internet spy programs ever seen, a program that sucks data from Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo and other monolithic US technology companies – is nothing to worry about. Yay! He said:

With respect to internet and emails, this does not apply to US citizens and it does not apply to people living in the United States.

Well, that’s a comfort. Right? Oh, hang on no, no it’s not, it’s no comfort whatsoever, seeing as I’m a British citizen I’m one of them there people that this applies to. Great, I’m being spied on.

With effort I can almost understand why access to this volume of data might be necessary in certain situations but they are so very extreme and exceptional that I can’t honestly believe the efforts that have been made into the creation of this system have been made with simply the protection of the people of the USA from foreign powers in mind.

To my mind PRISM’s ability to monitor, what appears to be the world’s communications, will be – or perhaps already has been – too much of a temptation to the US government not to be used for its corporate associates. That’s more of a worry than anything else.

Whichever way you cut it though, PRISM’s existence is worrying but not entirely unexpected. We should watch for any further revelations, as I have a feeling things are only going to get more uncomfortable the more we find out.