I may not like them but they ARE rather good.

I may not like them but they ARE rather good

And, further, on my post below.

I really try NOT to buy using Amazon. But I can understand why they’re taking over the world.

First, they tend to be the cheapest supplier of “stuff”.

Second, they offer free delivery.

Third, so far (I’ve used them twice), they beat the customer expectations. They promise delivery within a week or so, when you place the order, and then deliver within 2 days! So, I placed the order two days ago, they promised it would be delivered Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and then they have delivered today!

I hate them more.

I would never pay for Amazon Prime since the delivery, in any case, is so good. You can see why everyone uses them.

But I will still only use them when I really need to. I get my books from Wordery, who have wonderful customer service. I like to book my hotel and flights directly (I phoned the hotel in Rome and got a much better deal than I would have online, for example). But, you know ……

Amazon ARE doing something right. Cheap and efficient.

I still hate them though :'(

Car break-ins, Cancer or Not to Cancer, iPhone software bugs.

It is about 7.15 a.m.

I am, as usual, hardly what I could term as “awake”. However, as usual, expecting something bad, as I do often, surprised to see the car where I left it.

As I walk towards it, I press the button on the fob and the indicator lights blink, as they usually do, to inform me that the car is now unlocked. Now, unlike yesterday at about 6.30 p.m., there are no “youths” hanging around in front of the car. Last night, as always, after locking the car (using the fob and not the key), I had checked that I had locked it properly by trying to open the back door as I passed. Only last night, I had made sure I had done it (it’s such an automatic thing that sometimes I cannot, within a few seconds, remember if I have checked my locking by this method) because of the group of four of five youths in front of the car. They were innocuous enough but, you know, I’m an old man now and you can’t ever be too careful, can you? And, anyway, I’m British and youths hanging around with little to do are always a bad sign.

I get to the car and open the door, taking my bag off my shoulder as I do so to slip it into the passenger footwell.

And I noticed something slightly strange. On the front passenger seat is the emergency first aid box that is permanently in the car. The reason it was strange is that I had not moved it from under the front seats and so it was completely out of place. I looked behind my seat where I put various thing, most of them in some cheap yellow shopping-style bag. And sure enough it was a little in disarray, and the umbrella could have been moved and my “summer driving shoes” had almost certainly been moved.

I checked each of the windows of the car. No, none had been smashed.

So, someone had got into to a car that I absolutely, certainly KNOW was locked without having to break any windows. They had rummaged around a bit and, from what I can tell, took two or three lighters (that I get for free anyway) but nothing else.

Not that there was anything to take. The yellow bag holding things like a bottle of water for the dogs, some additive for the windscreen wiper water and some other fairly crap items that are only useful when making car trips.

However, it did give me a slightly weird feeling. It’s not as if I can really report anything? I mean, what could I possibly say? But now I doubt the security of the car, of course.

And the reason I was parking in that particular place was that I had been to the doctor. And I don’t have cancer, of the lungs, at least, although I’m not entirely convinced I haven’t got it. However, because the heart doctor had panicked, I’m now on pills for blood pressure, which doesn’t really please me, and I have some further tests to do next year (the first booking I could get). So bugger a bit but relief as well.

The doctor suggested that I try and cut down my smoking. She also added that I was a “lucky man” – but, then, I’ve always said that, haven’t I?

In other news, Apple phones are just as crap and unreliable as other phones. iMessage doesn’t work with phones that aren’t other Apple phones. A long conversation with Apple Help, which included resetting my telephone, didn’t help and they told me it must be my provider. It didn’t really make sense as it HAD been working and, then, sometime around April/May it stopped working – which, for a while I thought was because the phones I was trying to text were in the UK and I thought it was a UK problem – until a colleague had a problem sending a message to me.

I’ve now found that this is a known problem (well, known to the world except for Apple, it seems) and, although I’ve tried every trick given to sort the problem – so far, no good. Which doesn’t please me much. It’s something to do with an update to the operating system that they did a while ago, it seems. Let’s hope the next update fixes this. I thought the guy from Apple who was helping me was quite OK – until afterwards when I realised that he, like nearly all helplines, actually knew nothing and was just doing the equivalent of “switch it off and then back on again”

So bugger.

I will add a photo later or tomorrow.

Nearly there.

So, to keep you up to date.

The blog move is completed. The posts have been updated and, with any luck, I haven’t missed correcting any links. Some posts have been deleted and some draft posts deleted. Other draft posts are now published or about to be published.

There’s just a couple of things left to do:

1. Redirect certain old posts on the old blog to this blog.
2. Delete the old blog, putting a “this blog is closed” notice up.

And, of course,

3. Promote the blog – letting you link to it and putting it on the other websites for it to get “noticed”.

Nearly there.

You also might like the new pages I’ve put up (see the pages bar at the top) to enable people to “find their way around” a little easier. I’ve amended About this blog, All about me and added My Best Writing, Most Popular Posts and Information for Tourists/Visitors to Milan – just in case you’d care to have a look.

Twitter focus change

As time goes on, I’m finding Twitter much more enjoyable than Facebook.

But I’ve noticed a change – or, maybe, it’s something to do with how I’m interacting on Twitter – I’m not sure.

People have followed me in the past and I’ve looked at their profiles and not bothered to follow back. After all, I’m not really what you could call a “serious” Twitter user. I’m not really interested in numbers of followers or, that much, in who follows me. I don’t normally tweet very much, just doing the occasional retweets.

But then I started promoting Altern-i-life, the musical film that I helped to fund through Kickstarter. An I was tweeting and retweeting several times per day. And I saw that I was getting more notice and that more people were following me. And I decided to change the way I interacted by automatically following back. Then, after a little while I would see some had unfollowed me (so I would unfollow them since they weren’t that interesting) or my feed would be filled with rubbish or things that I didn’t like, so I would unfollow them first.

But, what I have noticed is some people are using Twitter as a way to promote something they’ve done. I first noticed it with Matt Haig who wrote The Humans. He, unselfconsciously, promoted himself by retweeting short (Twitter) reviews from people who had read the book. It seemed an interesting book, so I bought it. As you may know, I prefer a “real” book, made with paper and this was one of them. It became my favourite book of 2014. I absolutely loved it. So much so that I bought 2 copies (one in Italian) for Best Mate and F as presents and encouraged someone else to buy it.

As a result of that, maybe, I’ve been followed by other authors, each one promoting their book. Some are self-published and others not. And I’ve also been followed by musicians (singer-songwriters), some of whom have “given” me downloads of their stuff. So far, no one has had the impact of Matt Haig (so much so that I will definitely be buying his new book, out very soon) but I’m sure that, somewhere along the way, I’m going to find some more interesting stuff and something like “The Humans” (either song or book) that I will go “Wow!”

But, this was not what I thought Twitter was about, so, for me, it’s an interesting change of focus.

I still follow the people that I know IRL, those that are funny or give me information that I want to know about and, a very few, with whom I disagree with their politics or thoughts but who are interesting enough to keep me hooked. But now I have a load of people on my timeline that also have something to “sell”. If they are engaging enough, I keep following them anyway, even if I’m not that impressed with their product. After all, you never know!

Christmas Decorations are UP! And other Christmas-related things

The Christmas decorations are up!

No, don’t worry, not in our flat. I mean in a street which I use on my way home from work.

They aren’t switched on but they are up.

And, talking of Christmas, I have still to do the cards. This weekend, is the plan.

At the moment, F is talking about doing a house-warming party around the middle of December – when he has decorated the flat! :-) Bless him.

As an aside, I tried, on Monday evening, to get my computer to display films on the TV. We already have the HDMI cable punched through the wall and I had bought an adapter to attach to my MiniDisplay Port. So, it should have worked just by connecting. Although the picture was fine, the sound only came from the computer which, being in the next room, wasn’t really any good. After hunting around, I found that Macs built prior to 2010 didn’t have a proper HDMI slot and no audio was passed through.

Wednesday, I found an adapter that WAS supposed to do the job for Macs of the age of mine. Except that the company making them had stopped making them. However, I found one on Amazon and bought it. It’s “on its way” now. Should be here by Monday but I’m hoping Friday – then I can try it at the weekend!

In the process of trying to make the sound work on Monday, I found, on Tuesday night, that one of my programs wouldn’t work anymore. After hunting around a bit, I decided to re-install it. So that was that.

Except, on Wednesday night, I found that, as a result of my re-installation, Firefox wasn’t working properly and what-seemed-like-spam pages kept coming up. After much pratting around, I found the solution. Let’s hope that the new adapter I’m going to be getting doesn’t end up messing up other things on my computer. It’s not that I can’t fix it, it’s just that everything then takes so much longer.

It will be nice if we can watch films in the lounge, especially for Christmas!

The adolescents have taken over the Internet

It seems as if we’ve lost the art of “discussion.”

Words like misogyny, troll, anti-Semitic, sexist are banded around, it seems, for every occasion that there is some disagreement.

The latest I saw was for something called #gamergate. And, on that point, how come, after Watergate, does everything have to have “gate” tagged on? They aren’t the same thing, you know?

It seems (and please mind that I said “seems”) as if it all started when some unhappy person spouted off about their former partner and their breakup but has developed into something else. I choose my words well. I did not say “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” because, actually, that’s not important (although it seems to have become so.)

So, this person called their former partner a liar and accused them of having several affairs.

This is very sad. Made more so by the decision to publish the details online, in a blog post. This was, apparently, to “make people aware” of what their partner was really like. So that others would be able to decide whether to trust them or not. But it strikes me as more of a “washing your dirty laundry in public” and it certainly didn’t make this person look good.

The partner was a “big shot” in the the world of computer games, having developed at least one themselves. Apparently, to get good reviews, this person slept with a journalist (who, I have read, didn’t actually do a review of the game!)

This partner also, it would seem, somehow managed to scupper some other thing, set up in direct competition to the partner’s own business.

So, there we have it. A person (the partner) is, apparently, a) a shitty person to have a relationship with (according to their ex-partner) and b) runs a business; trying to get favourable press and destroy the competition. That’s all it was or, rather, all it started out as.

The problem is that the original post is not a happy post. It reminds me of something one does when one is 20. A relationship breaks up and one side is more hurt than the other (which is normal as it’s rare that both sides “decide” to split) and being more hurt, they want to make the partner hurt too. It’s a normal reaction. But, unfortunately, adding a post to the Internet is a little like whispering it to everyone in the world. It becomes “public property” and, at that moment, because it’s the written word, a little like Chinese whispers, it takes on a life of its own.

It morphs into something different.

And, from what I’ve read, what could have been a discussion on how the gaming industry (let’s not forget that this is BIG business, now, not some nice little community of like-minded people) works and how it should work and what’s wrong with it, it developed into a fight between two camps and, at worst, an attack on women which it never started out to be. It started as an attack on one person who happened to be a woman but could have equally been a man.

So, what started as a rather sad individual trying to get some retribution for the break up, ended as something completely different – a fight between people with the minds of adolescents.

I mean, “death threats”? “Attacks on women”? It’s not normal, fair-minded people who do that, surely? And, yet, hidden behind the anonymity that IS the Internet, it seems we can ignore “discussion” and go straight to hate-filled rhetoric.

Guess what? The Internet is NOT a safe place for your private things. Who knew?

So, according to the DailyHateMail, there has been O U T R A G E about some “private” photographs that have been “stolen”. People are comparing it to rape, stalking and the rest.

Well, in my opinion, don’t put anything anywhere on the Internet that you wouldn’t be happy to leave lying around on your coffee table when you’re giving a dinner party with complete strangers. And, by that, I mean any device that can access or be accessed by the WWW. This includes telephones, pads and computers.

Worse still is to entrust the safe-keeping of those personal affects to a storage place that is not, physically, in your house. That’s like leaving something important and personal in a secret hiding place somewhere down the road.

In the “old days” this was easier. After all, we were not “connected” and if you took a photograph on your camera and you developed the photograph yourself, you had complete control. If it was anything other than that, you were not in control. I’m not sure how we got to a place where we thought, even for a moment, that the Internet was safe? After all the stories in the recent years, too!

And, so, do I “feel sorry” for these celebrities that have had some nude pictures stolen and banded wound the Internet for all to see? Well, no, not really.

First: Why are you taking nude photographs of yourself? Or, why are you allowing someone else to take nude photographs of you? If it was for your personal pleasure, then they should be kept (safely) on your computer or camera.

Secondly: Why did you think that it was OK to put them on some central storage place or send them via email or message? Haven’t you heard about the revelations by Snowden about people screening all these places? Did you not stop to think that, if the NSA/GCHQ can do it, so can other (?less scrupulous?) people? If not, are you some kind of stupid?

Thirdly; You’re a celebrity. You can expect the rags like the DailyHateMail to try and get these private pics. And, if they can’t get them first, then they can be “outraged” that someone else got them first! Did you not hear about the News of the World hacking scandal? Have you been living on some distant planet?

So, the upshot is that it’s entirely your own fault.

But, I really want to know: Have all these celebrities really been busy taking nude pics of themselves? Am I now so old that I find it really quite strange? Have we developed into a civilisation the likes to create its own porn?

And, tell me why it is that (apparently) so many people are interested in seeing certain parts of celebrity bodies?

Let me go and have a look for some to find out ……….


Fastweb and Tennis

Finally, summer is here. Over the weekend it was nudging the mid-thirties (degrees centigrade) and the next few days, it may get as high as 37° – or that’s the forecast – before dropping down to hovering around 30°.

This was the weekend where I got away with something – but I know I won’t be getting away with it for much longer. I got away with it because he is living in “my flat” – when the “my flat” becomes “our flat”, I know it won’t be tolerated.

It involved some stuff on the microwave. The microwave sits on the washing machine and is a very handy place to drop things that I must look at or do something with later. At one point he replaced the “general mess” with a shoe box. Now the top of the shoe box becomes the place to drop the stuff. He wanted me to clear it away. I explained that I needed to sort the kitchen out first as some things had to be put away when I find the boxes with like things inside.

He wasn’t happy but “It’s your flat” was the response. I know that I won’t have these choices in a month or so’s time. Ah well. enjoy it whilst it lasts, I suppose.

As part of the “getting ready to move”, I threw away lots and lots of clothes. And sorted out my shoes.

And we went and ordered Internet connection via optic fibre as it will be faster (and, in fact, the engineer is coming on Thursday). I mention this because, over the weekend it was the French Open Finals and, now that I can watch British TV, it was a delight.

Well, I say “delight” when, in fact, given the speed of my download, it kept hanging every few minutes. In fact, I tried my phone for a few minutes and got a much better reception via that!

The Fastweb connection, providing I cable my Mac to the modem, will be more than 30 times faster and should mean no more “hanging”. Unfortunately, we shan’t be in the new flat in time for Wimbledon – but there’s always next year :-)

Nearly there …. in more than one way.

OK so the problem I had with the websites that I have been working on (and off and on) over the last couple of weeks is finally solved. I think. I hope!

It included over a week of inactivity whilst the hosting company detected and solved the problem with some (I suppose) hack on their servers and then me fixing the WordPress parts. The main thing is that the hack that made the Dashboard really crap (for both the customer and me) has now gone away, which I like. I had a few hairy moments today but, now that’s it’s fixed, I am so much happier. It’s been weighing on my mind somewhat.

Now, once the backup is complete, I shall do a bit of tidying up on that one site and then, maybe, update my site.

So, I think that’s nearly done.

The editing I have been doing in my waiting times is also nearly complete – although that is no chore but rather lovely, to be honest. But, I reckon on finishing it by tomorrow. So that’s nearly done too.

And, then, this lunchtime, I went and paid the deposit and agency fee for the new house. Tomorrow evening, we go to sign the contracts and, in theory, it will be ours to furnish and sort out from 1st June. This is good because, as I may have mentioned, F’s flat has already been rented to someone from 1st June.

So the flat “getting” is nearly done. Obviously the moving part isn’t but that’s not so bad.

But I’ve stopped worrying (for now) about the moving in together thing as I was sorting out the website and that was much more of a worry.

So that’s good too.

So, nearly there in more than one way! :-D

From Top Of The Pops to Nursery School – timetravelling backwards

I’m what you may call a “quiet” guy.

Those of you who’ve read my blog long enough will know that, although on the surface I seem quite well-adjusted, sensible and, well, just plain ordinary, I am, underneath it all (or, rather, in my mind), quite seriously screwed most of the time.

I have conflicts and dilemmas most of my waking hours. I find it really difficult to be “close” to people.

I have friends, of course. Well, I should say, people that I quite like and that I speak to quite often. But, what I consider “real” friends – no, not many.

And a recent post from one of my links got me to thinking about relationships with people and friends, in general. More specifically, it took me back to when I was younger (much, much younger.)

When I was 12 or 13 or maybe even before that, my Nan bought me my first record (single). The reason was that one of the members of the group came from where she lived and, this being rural Herefordshire, not famous for it’s proliferation of famous rock stars, was a very big deal. From my Nan and Grandad, I learnt about Top of the Pops – because they used to watch it every week.

Apart from this making them very cool (although we didn’t use that word then – maybe “hip” or something), they got me interested in music and the radio and Top of the Pops. So, then, I used to watch it every week. And I got a radio for Christmas or my birthday which enabled me to listen to Radio Luxembourg under the bedsheets at night.

The thing about this was the charts. All these programs worked on charts. And charts I liked. I was, for some reason, fascinated with charts and the moving up and down of songs based on their popularity and sales. And I wanted my own “charts”.

Obviously, I was young and didn’t have any buying power so I came up with the idea of a chart for friends. To make it real, they were “marked” to different criteria (which I don’t remember now but possibly something like – how nice they had been to me this week, had they shared any sweets with me, did I share any sweets with them, etc.). Each would be given a mark (quite possibly out of 10). The marks would be added up and, from that, the week’s chart compiled. This would mean that I would know who was my “best friend”.

I really don’t remember how long I did this for. I had a little exercise book and dutifully recorded the “chart” every week, watching how people moved up and down. It made me feel better if someone had been horrible to me and they dropped sharply down the chart and better too if someone who had been “middling” shot up to number one because of something nice.

Obviously, reading this now, I was set to be on a psychiatrist’s couch as soon as I was old enough :-)

But, then again, I was at school. And children are quite horrible. Friendships are made and broken on a whim. “I won’t let you play with my toys. I’m not your friend anymore. I’m going to tell my Mum.” These are all the things we say and hear. We’re learning about the value of people, how to trust them, how to read them.

So, let’s bring that up to date. Today we have a new Nursery School. But this one is for adults, it seems. In broad terms it’s called social media. In the olden days, we became friends with people that we met, face-to-face, people that were physically in our own circle.

Then, with the invention of the telephone, we could become friends with people that we spoke to a lot.

In fact, I remember, as a buyer, many moons ago, I became “friends” with a guy who was employed at one of our suppliers. We used to chat a lot and, when I left that company, we arranged to meet up. Of course, we never spoke after that. Not because he was a horrible person in real life but because I think we were a bit disappointed that the guy on the phone was not really like that in real life.

Social Media is another revolution. We can become friends with people so easily. Maybe we like their photo or the things they write or the pictures they post.

On Twitter, a while back, I would follow anyone who followed me. So it was that one person followed me and I followed her back. The problem was that, in real life, given the nature of her tweets, I wouldn’t have ever spoken to her after our first meeting. She was (is), in a word, vile. Nasty, small-minded, arrogant and always making out that she was cleverer than everyone else. I decided that Twitter was the ideal platform for her and that, in all probability, she had been the most hated person at Nursery School – she had (has?) no social skills. Zero. Nada.

How grateful was I when I discovered that she had “unfollowed” me – permitting me to unfollow her! She still appears on my timeline from time to time (being retweeted by others on my timeline) and, occasionally, I visit her profile to see if she’s changed. Needless to say, she hasn’t.

There’s a guy that I follow that reported on the Grillo-Renzi meeting, for example. Now, I’ve been following him because he tweets some interesting stuff about Italian politics and the economy. When I read what he wrote about the meeting however, I realised that he was also quite stupid. But, then again, he’s not my “friend” (I don’t even know if he follows me and, to be honest, care less) and, after the tweet about the meeting, is surely never to be.

Facebook too – I have friends on there that are my friends because we used to (or I used to) play games through Facebook. Now that I don’t, I do wonder why the hell I don’t just purge them. I have other “friends” on there that I’ve never met who have become “friends” via other means (they might be friends of friends that I have at Hay Festival, for example.) Again, I sometimes query why they are there, taking up space on my timeline. But I don’t want to be the first to cut them off! Stupid, eh? But, although they aren’t really my friends, I don’t want them to feel hurt – unless they really piss me off, of course. Then there are “friends” who I’ve never met and know little about but who I have some sort of interaction with. I can class them as “real” friends in that we do interact, of course. Whether they would be real friends in real life is another matter – and I simply don’t know the answer to that – I’ve never met them and don’t know enough about them.

Of course, when V “defriended” me on Facebook a few years ago I was both surprised and a bit disappointed. But not so as you’d know. After all, we’d split up in real life and, to be honest, he was right in one way. Still, it’s a shame.

But I really can’t lose sleep over someone who defriends me nor unfollows me. it’s up to them. They have their reasons. I have a real-life friend who I follow who doesn’t follow me on Twitter. Should I get upset or be offended?

Well, no, I don’t think so. Firstly, it’s not like my tweets are so fantastic. Secondly, whether she follows me on Twitter or not doesn’t actually change the way I feel about her and doesn’t make her a horrible person. In fact, she is one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever met in my life – and whether she follows me or no doesn’t change that.

The thing I DO know is that a “friend” on Facebook or Twitter is not really a “friend” but more of an acquaintance – like someone you know at work. I really can’t take it all too seriously.

But, people do. People get upset and rant and rave. People follow me on Twitter and then unfollow me if I don’t follow back. Well, like Facebook friends, it isn’t the quantity but the quality that counts in my book. If people have interesting timelines/profiles, I follow them. If not, well, I don’t. It’s really as simple as that.

But it is a little like a Nursery School – or it can be. People take offence at something someone says and it blows up out of all proportion. Someone defriends or unfollows someone else and that someone else feels hurt and “excluded”.

But, it’s not real. It’s over the Internet. A true “friend” relationship takes time to develop – over months and years with ups and downs along the way. Physically being in front of someone smooths those ups and downs as you can see, sometimes, the real person. On the Internet, all you have are words and words don’t show feelings and, worse, can be downright lies.

We’ve a long way to go before we are out of the Nursery School that is Social Media. We have (and it has) a lot of growing up to do – made worse by the fact that in this Nursery School, most people are adult and so have already “grown up” and have their fixed ideas on what is right and what is wrong.

So, perhaps, we’ll never grow up!