Month: October 2009

The Power of Outrage

It started with a kiss… no (I’m doing it again), a tweet. The first I saw of it was a fairly subtle and obscure tweet from Stephen Fry (it could have been that I just couldn’t see through the fog of intellectualism, but hey – that’s why we love him so much) saying that someone somewhere had written something horrid. I was hooked, and the floodgates suddenly proceeded to open. Jan Moir (lascivious hack from that well-known breeding ground of all hacks, the Daily Mail) had penned a not only poorly-thought but particularly vitriolic (can I use lascivious again?) piece about Stephen Gately’s death. This type of hack (there I go again) journalism – no, wait, it’s anything but journalism – does the industry no credit whatsoever, and it’s been wonderful watching the way the web has been able to convey the abject disgust felt by all and sundry.

Apart from all the sniping, sarcasm, and wonderful put-down humour, my favourite has to be the fact that the headline this Moir creature used started life as Nothing ‘natural’ and suddenly jumped to Strange and Lonely and Troubling in a heartbeat. Almost as quickly as most of us out here hope her career is ending…

I now see that someone has written what I want to but can’t (the constant switching of active windows in an otherwise busy office is taking its toll on me being able to string a coherent paragraph together). This is terrific: http://enemiesofreason.blogspot.com/2009/10/why-there-is-nothing-natural-about-life.html

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Just another weekend in France

“We’re back!” I shouted, with undisguised glee. Well, I sent a text – not quite the same, I realise, but inside I felt like a small blond child… no, wait, that’s not what I mean at all … inside, I felt like I was leading the hoards of the underworld stomping up the garden path to the front door of an unsuspecting country, singing some long-forgotten old-time religion song. No wait, it wasn’t that either…

I do love France; I just can’t stand getting here. I’d rather spend an hour and a half in the Strictly Come Dancing audience, listening to Brucie in all his drivel-ridden glory, than travel via Ryanair ever again. Three hour drive to the airport, 4am start, adverts dropping like bombs on Belgrade, and a landing that should have earned the pilot the nickname of “walk away” (well hey, they say that any landing you can walk away from is a good one). And all for one quick weekend in the everything’s-closed-cos-October’s-out-of-season countryside of the Haute-Vienne! Seriously, you thought Sunday’s in France were ‘quiet’? Try a Sunday in October out in the rurals! Nope – the next weekend is going to be somewhere with a little more verve.

Win7 Free Upgrade? – it’s a money-grabbing SCAM, is what it is…

… well, ok, so “scam” may be a bit harsh, but here’s the thing. If you buy an eligible PC/Laptop between June 2009 and March 2010, with Vista on it, you’re entitled to a free upgrade to Win7. Go check it out. I’ll wait… OK, so you saw that, and we’ve established a fact. Good. Now try and get it … get it “free”, that is. I bought a Compaq laptop a couple of weeks ago, and over the last few days I’ve ended up in a bit of a flame-war with HP (they own Compaq) Customer Service over their £21.99 charge for the “free” upgrade. Yep – £21.99! It’s a DVD data disc, no doubt with some fluffy paperwork telling you how you’ve just upgraded to a cool OS (i.e. this one might just actually work properly), but even so… I emailed them and asked how they justified charging £21.99 for something that is advertised everywhere as free.

Now, I understand that they are perfectly entitled to cover costs of shipping/handling – no problem, I’m comfortable with that, so I asked how come it cost this much to ship a DVD. They said that it comes directly from Microsoft in America (what – they couldn’t burn a few thousand DVDs here in the UK?) via a “third party” (er, that would be the postal system). I went to the Royal Mail web site just to see how much it would cost to go the other way… In order to actually spend £21.99 sending something to the US, it would be the size of a small stack of glossy magazines, and weigh over a kilo. Oh, and I get insurance (£500) with that, too, along with a “sign-for” service. To anywhere in the US.

When you consider how many DVDs will ship, and how many instances of £21.99 that equates to, this is nothing short of profiteering. Now, I know some of you will be thinking “£21.99 for an OS? – Hey, that’s pretty good value”, and you’d be right to think that – I think that. I will, of course, shell out the bloody £21.99, but what sticks in my craw is the fact that it’s being touted all over the tinterweb as a free upgrade. It’s not, and this needs shouting from the rooftops (or at least in my kitchen, at my girlfriend, or anyone else who’ll stick around for me long enough to rant at them).