iPad – An expensive fashion statement!

I’ll start this quick post by being completely honest. I don’t own an iPod, iPhone, Mac or iPad – and never will. Simply put, I don’t like Apple’s business model of controlling customers and am not persuaded by the hype and marketing.

The new iPad so many people are raving about is just one more gadget to draw in the fashion victims, rather than something to take us away from our beloved netbooks and laptops. Apple may wish you believed otherwise, so I thought I’d just comment on the things I’ve read about the iPad recently. If I were in the market for something like this, these are the cons that would have me looking elsewhere.

To add to their woes, it appears there may be issues with at least some iPads failing to connect to and keep a wifi connection…as reported by the BBC here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8606727.stm

Some of the following reasons I’ll spend my money elsewhere also apply to other Apple gadgets, such as the iPhone:

  1. Multi-tasking – What decade are we in again? I remember having a multi-tasking OS on my Commodore Amiga over 20yrs ago. Yet, Apple can’t manage to include something so fundamentally necessary in the year 2010. Seriously? This glaring omission alone is enough to stop me ever buying an iPad or iPhone. I’ll stick to Android on my mobile phone, thanks.
  2. Apple in control – Another huge deal breaker is the control Apple has over any of their products I might own. If I buy a netbook, I can expect to install any OS or software on it I wish. Not so with the iPad/iPhone. If Apple don’t approve of your choice, tough. Sorry, but if it’s my equipment, then I won’t be told what I can and can’t do with it.
  3. No Flash – WTF? Flash is used in a huge number of websites and seems to be one of the benchmarks for judging smartphones, yet the iPad doesn’t have it. Another nail in the coffin for me!
  4. No removable battery – The iPad is meant to be a portable device. For me, having the option of inserting a fully charged spare battery into my netbook/laptop is a must when I’m away from home. Yet, you cannot get to the battery in the iPad. FAIL!
  5. No camera – A normal camera is probably a silly idea on the iPad granted, but what about a webcam? Isn’t that another normal feature on most mobile devices these days? Oh dear.
  6. No standard USB port – Well, what can I say? Unforgivable. Not conforming to the industry standards is just stupid and arrogant.
  7. No external memory slot – Music, movies, ebooks etc. Was it so hard to add even something like a MicroSD slot? Another FAIL!

So, in addition to the pain of constantly quitting one app to allow you to open another,  and not being able to view a good percentage of modern websites properly, and not being allowed to run any software you like, or unable to plug in your own standard USB peripherals or SD memory card – it looks like a great bit of kit. Yes? No actually. It looks like a very expensive fashion statement to me, the same as many Apple products.

All in all, the iPad might be very desirable if you’re in the market for a portable device, no doubt because it’s got the Apple name engraved somewhere prominent. However, in practical terms, my Acer Aspire One wipes the floor with the iPad for all the reasons given above, and more besides. Granted, it’s not an Apple product, but that’s my point really. I wouldn’t swap my freedom for the shackles provided by Mr Jobs and co.

Let the fanboys come….!

Jim

UK Politicians – Sack the lot!

I wonder…let’s say I decided to put in a claim for tax relief on something to which I’m not entitled. Or, how about something that doesn’t exist? Better still, what about if I submitted an expenses claim to my employer for say £10 that was for something which doesn’t exist or for something I actually paid £5 for? What would happen if I claimed hundreds or thousands of pounds in benefits to which I was not entitled? Let us supposed I was subsequently caught for any of the above? What would happen? Could I expect to be let off? Would the police be called in to investigate me for fraud? I doubt I’d walk away from something like that, and quite rightly so. Yet, those people we elected to run this country have done essentially the very same thing in principle, and have the nerve to say sorry and walk away. Or, in at least one case, stated that if it weren’t for the pesky Freedom of Information Act, us peasants wouldn’t have our sticky mits on the incriminating evidence of their very wrongdoing! Arrogant bastards! They ALL deserve to be dragged through the mud. Every last one of them. If they weren’t complicit, they at least knew the system was rigged and had an ethical duty to put a stop to it from the inside. NO excuses are good enough. That is what we pay them for. That is why we elect them!

Imagine all those scenarios above, where I was in reciept of money each month or even just once when I really shouldn’t have been. Firstly, I’d have to be exceptionally wealthy NOT to notice such large sums being deposited into my bank or to NOT notice and question them! I think I would probably notice if I was still claiming money for a mortgage which no longer exists. I wonder how many of you wouldn’t take note of the date upon which your mortgage is paid off? Probably none, I’m willing to bet! Yet, our beloved politicians have done exactly that. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t notice the few hundred quid entering my bank account each month. Silly me! So sorry. Let’s just forget about it eh?”.

Every single politician who made a claim for expenses they were NOT entitled to, should be made to pay it back, apologise to their electorate (and the rest of us) and be sacked immediately. In any other sector, they would be held accountable for committing gross misconduct at the very least and possibly even fraud.

To clarify that point, let me quote the definition of the word “fraud” from Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
“Deception deliberately practiced with a view to gaining an unlawful or unfair advantage”

I wonder how closely that definition fits?

It was reported today that poor old Gordon Brown admitted to having a tough time of it recently. So sad, isn’t it? The poor fellow is getting up to go to work every day and finding it all a bit stressful. I wonder why? Could it be that he and his cabinet are NOT up to the job of running this country? The cracks are certainly getting much wider. Are the conservatives any better? Nope. Few of the UK’s politicians deserve to have jobs at all right now. At least some of them had the decency to bugger off to find gainful employment elsewhere! I wonder how long they’d get away with claiming expenses like that in their new private sector roles? Five minutes at most, and they’d be out on their arse. Says it all really!

Jim

How to claim £16,000 for a mortgage that’s paid off? Become a Labour MP!

Yep, you read the title correctly. Our beloved Labour MP’s are falling over each other in the queue to outdo themselves on what absurdities they have claimed expenses for. I think the prize really must go to Mr Elliot Morley. Apparently (according to a BBC story posted here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8049096.stm) Mr Morley had to pay back a whacking £16,000 for a mortgage that was already paid off and which presumably no longer existed!!!

To be fair, Mr Morley did realise his genuine mistake and paid back the money. So, that’s allright then, yes? Well, er, no actually. What amazed me most about this latest in a long, long line of the comedy of errors that is our current UK government is that the mortgage payments were £800 per month. Do you see where I’m going here?? The eagled eyed readers amongst you, which obviously wouldn’t include Mr Morley, will already have done your sums. Yes, £16,000 divided by £800 equals 20. So, our Mr Morley MP appears to be so hopeless with his household income that he didn’t notice the £800 per month coming into the old current account, for TWENTY months?!?! I’ll say that again, for those who missed it the first time….he claimed 20 payments over 20 months, which is almost 2 years, of £800 per month and didn’t realise it was for something which didn’t exist?!?!?

Obviously, I’m not quite as well off as Mr Morley MP because I think I’d probably notice an extra £800 per month. Not to mention the odd fact of having no mortgage with which to pay the money towards tends to be a bit of a giveaway!
The really scary things about this story and all the many others is that not only are these morons getting away with it by apologising (which makes it all better, of course), but that they, as a collective set of idiots, are supposedly running our great country. They cannot seem to manage their own finances, so you’d think that the UK should, by rights, be in some kind of dire straights financially………..OH!

What a crazy world we live in eh?! Oooo, I wonder if you can guess which party I won’t be voting for at the next, long overdue, General Election??

Jim

The Rich Get Poorer – How Sad!

Browsing the BBC news website this morning led me to two interesting and contrasting stories, which I really must comment on.

The first is about a 19yr old woman called Suada Hamidi who has to live on £50 per week. Out of that, she has bills to pay and travelling costs in order to sign on as unemployed. By the time she’s finished, she has less than £5 to spend on food and living expenses for seven days. She has done a video diary for the BBC about her plight and search for work. The thing that amazed me most is that she manages to smile through the obvious pain and fear she must be feeling. I have so much respect for her courage in the face of such hardship. At her age, she should be earning a reasonable wage and going out enjoying herself while she’s still young and free. The government has absolutely no clue at all. How can they say they are helping people like Suada? If she takes a full time job on the minimum wage, she’ll actually be worse off financially because she would then become liable for payment of the full amount for her bills as she’d lose the financial “help” she recieves via state benefits. Her story and video diary can be found here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8015182.stm

Which brings me on to the next story I read and the one which made me feel sad. Apparently, many of our richest pop stars are struggling with their finances because of the current downturn in the UK economy. As many of them rely on investments to fund their so modest lifestyles, they are finding themselves losing money, hand over fist. For example, Sir Elton John has seen his tiny bank balance drop from £235 million to £175 million (yes, that’s pounds sterling!) in the last year. Well, how will he manage? Where is the next Porsche coming from? How will he feed himself on £175 million pounds? I feel so sorry for Sir Elton. Really. If it carries on, he’ll be so poor, he’ll have to sell a mansion or two. My heart bleeds for Sir Paul McCartney too. He’s really suffering. According to the story, he’s seen his measly £500 million drop to a terrifyingly low £440 million. What on earth is he to do? It’s dreadful to think that he’ll have to seriously reconsider purchasing that yacht he’s been eyeing up or the tenth holiday in Bali this year may have to be downgraded to Monte Carlo. What a crying shame. This story can be read here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8015303.stm

I’m not sure whether the BBC story about those poor music stars was meant to garner sympathy or was dripping with sarcasm. You decide. The point is that it makes me sick to think of the people out there in desperate need of help, with nowhere to turn and the contrasting wealthy elite are crying into their Amani suits about the loss of a few million quid off their immense fortunes. Who cares? Yes, some of these people do have incredible talent and deserve to be earning lots of money for their artistic contribution. However, it still saddens me to think of the people at the opposite end of the spectrum, who are promised help by our government, to no avail. Empty promises of help getting back into work and retraining and financial support for their plight. It clearly doesn’t work. So, although the rich are currently getting poorer, I would contend that many of them have no idea what the word “poor” really means, government ministers with their second homes least of all!

Jim.

Christianity – Why I won’t be a part of it…Pt I

I’ve already posted a couple of times about Christian fundies and how much I dislike them, so this post just adds fuel to the already huge fire.

This post has been prompted by a report on the BBC website about two seperate groups of monks in Jerusalem who ended up having a mass brawl outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The BBC page linked below contains the whole story, along with footage of the event. It doesn’t really matter to me why they did it or what sparked it off. There is no reason good enough. As supposed devout Christians, they follow the Bible. Really, do they?? I think they need more lessons in how to read, not to mention the meaning of humility! I always thought Jesus is supposed to the be the role model for Christians? Isn’t that what’s shouted from every pulpit? So, what on earth were these monks thinking whilst punching and kicking each other? It beggars belief.

It was sickening to watch and just reinforced my disgust with the way people behave who are supposed to be leading the life as exemplified by that famous, mild mannered pacifist; Jesus. It’s a crazy world! I know they are of different sects, but please. These guys are not only monks, but also supposedly Christian!! Yet again, we have violence in the name of God.

If I wasn’t put off by lots and lots of other things about Christianity, this would certainly make me think twice about associating myself with the religion. No matter what reasoning you use, there is absolutely no excuse for people – who should really know better – doing something like this. When was the last time you saw Buddhist monks kicking seven bells out of each other?

How very, very sad.

The BBC news item is here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7718587.stm

Jim.

Big Brother!

Here’s a very good example of why the UK is fast becoming a scary place to live!

Poole council spied on a family for two weeks using The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). This Act is designed to govern the use of covert surveillance of people who are suspected of committing crimes, particularly terrorism.

So, what were this family doing so suspiciously that it would warrant invoking this Act? They applied to have their 3yr old daughter attend a local school. The council wanted to ensure they were legitimately living within the catchment area according to their application! I kid you not!

Is this a justifiable reason to spy on a family for two weeks? Is this a legitimate use of taxpayer’s money? I think not. It is an invasion of privacy and the council should be held accountable for misuse of their power.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/dorset/7341179.stm

For more information on privacy issues, visit:

Liberty – http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) – http://www.eff.org/

Jim

Royal British Legion & Poppy Appeal

Well, I’m very disappointed in the Royal British Legion. For the past two years, I have tried to volunteer as a poppy collector and for the past two years, they have not taken me up on the offer.

If you look at the website, it seems they are desperate for volunteers. Fair enough, I have time to spare at the moment so offered my services. I feel a strong urge to do my bit for a number of reasons. Not least of which is because I have relatives who fought in both World Wars and I think of all those people who gave so much, for us to live in freedom. You can’t put a price on that and volunteering is a very small way of showing respect for what they did!

I filled in the form on the Legion website and followed up with an email last year when I got no reply. The appeal came and went with no word from them. So, this year, I did the same and hoped for the best…twice. The response? Nothing, yet again. I gave my name, address, telephone number and email address, so it’s not like I’m hard to get hold of!

It’s a damn shame, but perhaps the Legion is short of volunteers, in part, because they aren’t following up on offers from people like me. The question is: Why?

There are only a few days left before Remembrance Sunday and I’m sad to say it’s too late for me to become a volunteer. Another year, another missed opportunity.

I don’t think I’m going to do it again next year.

Jim