Friday, 19 February 2010

Hoodie gangs - Someone is to blame

I called in at my local Waterfields shop this lunchtime and in front of me were two hooded teenagers. Clothed in the usual drab colours their "street soldja" image includes dark hooded top or coat or both, scruffy black tracksuit bottoms and dark coloured trainers or boots usually untied.

I was close enough to hear one of the creatures try to communicate "ow much are those like?" to which the lady serving replied, " They are £1.20 or 2 for £2.00" the creature then responded without making eye contact, "bangin' gis two den" . His street soldja comrades meanwhile were loitering outside communicating with each other at around 90db about the ample chest of a girl who had just passed by. After the creature had "bort his dinna" he joined the other pondlife and proceeded to generally be noisy, anti social and menacing to the "normal" people who were shopping. 

On the drive home I got to wondering how we can rid society from this gang culture that is now affecting every city, town and village in the UK. Look at the picture above, look familiar? Youths in drab clothing making stupid handgun gestures and generally being offensive and threatening to normal citizens.

I started first of all to think of the influences that these kids have. TV, music, movies and so on. I then discounted that as we all have influences. How many of you have watched the "Saw" movies? How many of you then have gone on to torture people beyond belief? exactly? So how about lack of opportunity? Ok I guess that is a problem. So why not bring back national service?

I'm serious, If a kid leaves school he should have 6 months to either secure further education, or employment. Failure to do either would result in National service. They would then be trained, shown some discipline and taught some respect for themselves and others! In return they would receive a training allowance. After 2 years they would have the choice to continue in the armed forces on full pay. 

Ok so that would deal with those of school leavers age but what about those who are still at school? Well this is where it gets simple. Who buys their clothes? who on Gods earth would allow their son to dress like the creatures in the above picture? Come on own up! I certainly wouldn't, My kids have worn some odd stuff over the years, In fact my son on nights out regularly wears Versace velvet jackets with multi coloured bowler hats! He lives in London and works in the city, He buys the clothes, he chooses to dress that way at weekend! When I was buying for him though there would simply be no way he would dress like a hoodie. 

I like hooded tops per se. As "sloggy" wear they are great, I own a few of them. I'll wear them on a Saturday maybe with combats and trainers. I own different colours, They are versatile. It's only when combined with all the other accessories such as black tracksuit bottoms with elasticated ankles, and black trainers etc, oh you know the script look at the photos above!

So, If you are one of those parents who allows their child to dress in such a way then do yourself, your child and the rest of society a favour, bin his clothes right now, even if he has to wear a dressing gown until the next pay day just get rid of them. In addition, if you see your son doing that stupid handgun gesture thing or talking like that Dizzy rascal bloke then 
1) Slap the little shit across the face, 
2) Ground him for a month, 
3) Remind him that he is not 50 Cent or Snoop Dog
4) Congratulate yourself for putting your foot down and accepting some parental responsibility.

Seriously and all joking apart, If your kid looks remotely like the ones in the top picture then aren't  you ashamed? If not then maybe you need to take a long hard look at yourself! This look just screams ASBO! which brings me onto another point. The parent of a child who receives an ASBO ( anti social behaviour order) should themselves be cautioned and warned that if it happens again then they shall have charges brought against them too. If an Employer can be held responsible for the actions of employees then I'm damn sure that parents should be held responsible for the actions of their child.

If you know someone who's child looks like this then PLEASE email this post to them. They need to be shamed.

Rant over! :)
PS If your child does look like this and this post has in anyway offended you, then GOOD! get a grip!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Brit awards - knobheads and fat f*cks


Last night the Brit awards were televised.  As usual it was an entertaining evening for all concerned  and this year the controversy came from the ego of  Liam Gallagher.

For those of you who have been cryogenically frozen for 20 years, Liam and his brother Noel were part of the incredibly successful Manchester band Oasis. Last night Oasis and in particular one of their albums "what's the story morning glory" were nominated for an award Best Brits album of the last 30 years. Liam made a surprise appearance to collect the award. 

Walking on stage with that daft swagger similar to that of Harry Enfield and Kathy burke aka Kevin and Perry you could just tell he was on a mission. The broadcasters chose to mute part of what was said but it is understood that between expletives Liam thanked his former band members but omitted to mention his Brother Noel. He then tossed his microphone into the crowd and left the stage. It is unclear if he also threw his award.

Oasis split up last year after Noel left saying "I could not work with Liam for a day longer".

The awards were being hosted by funny man Peter Kay who slightly lost for words at this bizzare action tried to lighten the mood by saying "what a knobhead" which seem to get one of the biggest laughs of the evening. Cick here to watch

But Liam's bad behaviour didn't end there.
During ITV2's post Brits coverage, Liam left his wife Nicole red faced after he asked her to come and take Class A drugs with him. The outburst was captured live on ITV2 as he was interviewed by her and her former All Saints bandmate Melanie Blatt. Click here to watch
It has also emerged that the star was involved in a backstage bust-up moments after walking off stage, when he shoved a young woman employed by Brit organisers to pose as a human statue outside guests' dressing rooms. After she stumbled back, the drunken star then launched himself at her a second time leaving her splayed on the floor in agony. The unprovoked attack was witnessed by dozens of onlookers who looked on in horror before rushing to help the stricken girl. Gallagher had to be restrained by two members of his own security team who wrestled him out of the backstage area and returned him to his seat in the auditorium.

Liam has always brought trouble to the Brit Awards. In 2000, Robbie Williams challenged him to a fight after enduring months of insults from him. 
In 1996, Liam accepted an award on stage from Michael Hutchence. But he humiliated the INXS singer by demanding: 'Why is a has-been presenting to the gonnabes?' 

Today, Liam has hit back at Peter Kay by posting the following on Twitter 
"Listen up fat f**k as a real northerner I was brought up 2 say s**t 2 people's faces not behind their back. Live forever LG"

I'm a Northerner, I'm aged somewhere between Liam and his brother Noel, As a Northerner I've actually discovered fire therefore I've given up acting like a caveman. I've learned to grow up and stop walking as if I've soiled myself, I've learned that bullying is simply not acceptable nor is dressing like John Lennon in the vain hope that you are a reincarnation of him. I would hazard a guess that calling someone a Knob head on prime time TV is on a par if not better than calling them to their face. 

An attempt to look cool by swearing a lot and throwing microphones on TV may have worked in the 1990s but your almost 40 Liam, The kids don't think your hip now, in fact they've all grown up and have got mortgages and kids themselves. Your an ageing rocker man, act like it. Learn a little decorum. If John Lydon can be a gentleman then you can be too!

Anyway, on a lighter note, Lady GaGa wore a stunning outfit! And welcome back Robbie!

Photo courtesy of The Daily Mail

Monday, 15 February 2010

Aprés valentines day thought

Whilst reading a post on a fellow bloggers site the other day I noticed this quote in her left column. 
I asked permission for me to use it as it really struck a chord. So it is with Amy's ( kind permission that I have shared this quote with you today. 

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. 
C.S. Lewis 

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Google it

I was preparing and valeting a car today, A late model Mini Cooper, for some reason the rear tailgate which has an electronic release wasn't working. Having checked the fuses which were ok I set about looking for a manual release mechanism but with no luck. I thought to myself, "I'll go indoors, make a coffee and Google it" Needless to say, I found a solution simply by typing the words "mini cooper tailgate not working" into the Google search bar

It wasn't too long ago (late 1990s) when I remember using a search engine called "toxic lemon" Then there was Ask Jeeves, Yahoo, Hotbot Asta Vista, Lycos and more.

In 1996 two students had created Google, According to Wikipedia "The name "Google" originated from a misspelling of googol which refers to the number represented by a 1 followed by one-hundred zeros (although Enid Blyton used the word decades earlier in "Google Bun"- Chapter IX, The Magic Faraway Tree) 

By 1998 the Google homepage still had "beta" on it but was considered by many to be better than the competition. 

From 1999 the company moved to Silicon Valley and then the growth was simply astounding. 
 Having found its way increasingly into everyday language, the verb, "Google," was added to the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate  Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, meaning, "to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the Internet."

And that is what it is, It is a verb, one that is used everyday in this house. Not a day goes by when someone doesn't say, "Google it". The impact on everyday life has been immense. With just a few short keystrokes we can research history, find a plumber, discover who the actress was in a movie we watched last week. It really is astounding. When was the last time you used the Yellow pages? When was the last time you looked in an encyclopedia? The internet and in particular Google has and is still changing the face of the world. Google has one aim and that is to provide relevant content. As a result the algorithms that power Google are top secret. An entire industry based around finding out how to get websites to appear on page on of Google search results has been born overnight. Search Engine Optimisation Specialists or SEO specialists have sprung up all around the UK. These people are usually Web Designers who have experimented relentlessly and found what works and what doesn't

My new iPhone 3GS has a google app on it that is simply brilliant. You simply lift the phone to your ear, (the phone senses the movement), you hear a beep, you then speak whatever it is you want to "Google", look at the screen and the results are there! Brilliant!

Google has marketed itself brilliantly. It entered the market quite late but is one of the very few companies who has managed to get their brand recognised as a verb. Can you think of any other companies other than Google and Hoover who have achieved this?

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Michael Jackson Autopsy, Dr charged with involuntary manslaughter

I was going to report on the Autopsy of Michael Jackson today however love him or hate him, after reading through the 50+ page publicly available Coroners report I felt that the last shred of dignity that the man had has now been taken from him. I understand that his Doctor has now been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
I realise that such an in depth autopsy was necessary as foul play was suspected however the level of detail disclosed in the report is, I feel, intrusive. 'll leave it to the tabloids to reveal the secrets that the autopsy uncovered about Jacko. I couldn't bring myself to publish it, he was after all a human being not just a media spectacle.

Personally, I wasn't a huge fan, I admired his work but also was puzzled by the way in which he managed to implicate himself in some bizarre and worrying situations.

Instead of publishing the coroners report which I feel is distasteful  I have found a link to full online auction catalogues of items from Neverland that were planned to be auctioned BEFORE his death. Some of the items are fantastic whilst others are vulgar. What is incredible however, truly incredible, is the amount of money this guy spent! Go and take a look:

Monday, 8 February 2010

What I'm currently reading (and proof that I'm in touch with my feminine side)

Ok, so the cover looks a little "Girly" I agree and I'll concede that I wouldn't have bought this off a shelf in a book shop for that very reason.
I'm glad to say however that I stumbled upon Maria's blog by chance and it was there that I discovered that Penguin had published her book. After following the link on her blog I read an excerpt (that word always looks and sounds wrong I think) and instantly purchased a copy on the strength of it.
It arrived Saturday and I read 16 chapters in one sitting, I also FAILED to attend a shooting competition on Sunday because I overslept after sitting up until way past the witching hour reading. I urge you to go check it out! The book (so far) is all things, humourous, sad, moving, emotionally charged and most of all incredibly well written. If you are female or male you will find it a great read. Incidentally guys, for reading in public you will find that a dust cover from a Jeremy Clarkson hardback will cover the "girly" outer up just fine and will also provide a perfect alibi for any outbursts of laughter that you may not be able to control.

Friday, 5 February 2010

PIG AIDS aka swine flu

So, as quickly as it came it would seem that there is no longer a swine flu pandemic in the UK.

The 24 hour helpline is now closed and the hysteria is over. Apparently around 400 people in the UK died from Swine flu. This figure is unconfirmed but is wildly lower than the estimated 65,000 deaths
Just because the UK has declared the pandemic over the international community will need the nod from the World Health Organisation in Geneva. An announcement is expected in the next few weeks.

I'll round up this brief post by asking you to consider this:

2007 - Chinese year of the Chicken - Bird Flu Pandemic devastated most parts of Asia .

2008 - Chinese year of the Horse - Equine Influenza decimated Australian racing.

2009 - Chinese year of the Pig - Swine Flu Pandemic caused hysteria around the globe.

2010 - Year of the Cock...........?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

The Stephen Fry method of weight loss

I've had to resign myself to the fact that I'm lazy. Inherently so, in fact, I'm considered an expert at delegation. I think it stems from years of having staff around both in work and in the home. Although I only had a domestic at home I would often enlist a factory member or fitter if I needed some handy work doing. This was largely due to the fact that I worked long hours and so didn't have the time to do DIY. I also had a couple of rather keen PAs who would see to the day to day stuff like taxing my car, phoning my dentist, ordering lunch etc. Sadly, PA duties often spilled over into my personal life and things got messy once or twice! I digress!

Now that I've sold the business I have to do more myself and I'm cool with this as I now have the time. I still have a domestic though :) 

There is one thing however that I simply cannot delegate and that is exercise. I've tried joining a gym but it was full of mouth breathing Neanderthals who appeared to train beyond their limits and spent more time making primitive noises than they did training. Then there was a more upmarket gym that must have been run by and was full of ageing tanned females in Mercedes convertibles and greying businessmen reading the Independent in the bar! In the end I bought a rowing machine, strider and step machine and instantly converted one half of my conservatory into my own home gym.  That was last Summer.........

Last week I sold my gym equipment on ebay! In acknowledgement of my failure I stated in the listing that it had only been used 6 times and in true Ricky Gervais style I included the word "LAZY"

You see, I get bored easliy, I dislike training, it is such a bore. In summer I am very active but in Winter I lack the motivation to do anything and that includes sitting on noisy apparatus in my conservatory in order to stay in trim. As a result I have put a fair few pounds on since last summer. I read recently about Stephen Fry and his well reported weight loss. I rather like Stephen, He is an absolute gent, genuinely funny and incredibly well educated. He has suffered with Bi Polar over the years and despite other personal problems he still remains a thoroughly likeable person. 
Stephen lost 6 stone recently and other than some sensible changes to his diet like cutting out bread, potatoes and sugar his main change was that he started to walk everywhere. He listened to talking books on his iPod to pass the time whilst walking, he would walk to meetings, appointments and back again. To look at the pictures of him it is astounding! 

Now although I dislike training, I actually love walking! In addition, my little soldier (Cairn Terrier named Enzo after the late Enzo Ferrari) also happens to love walking and so this week we have started our fitness campaign! I am comitted to walking at least 5 miles each day, regardless of the weather, regardless of other commitments. I have just bought some more army surplus clothing, It is ideal for the crap weather that we have at the moment. There are so many good walking areas around where I live. Plenty of open spaces to let Enzo off his lead too. Yesterday I went over to a disused US airbase in Burtonwood Cheshire. The Range Rover has a dog guard in the rear so I put some doggy towels down as the weather was dire and drove over there. We must have been out for hours. Enzo had a great time running in and out of the bushes and I was quite happy mooching up and down the old runway service roads, a bit of Urban exploration if you like! The day before we had a walk around an area that was once a coal mine but is now a nature reserve. This is literally minutes from my home. The weather was much brighter but bitterly cold still.

So I'm hoping to get back to my normal weight soon and in the process bond a bit more with Enzo (who incidentally is charged with perimeter security at home, he takes his job seriously and has just been promoted to Corporal :) )

So Stephen, If you happen to follow the link from Twitter and read this post I should like to thank you for your inspiration!

Steve (and Corporal Enzo)

Monday, 1 February 2010

Shameless plug

Hey all, why not visit my other blog, it's in it's infancy just yet but it will be growing daily.

It is aimed at people who are looking to make money buying and selling cars. I'll be giving away tips and tricks and will also be giving details of a book on the subject that I hope to publish in the coming months. 

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Legislator or Dictator?

Whenever a topic is raised that involves censorship or the legalisation of something that is currently illegal opinions and reasons always clash. I will point out that I will not air my views in this post. I am merely observing an argument.

Lets look today at two topics. Prostitution and Cannabis. I think the key to considering both arguments are not to let individuals decide what is morally right or wrong but instead to consider the merits of legalisation for society. We need to look at the problems currently faced by society and look at if these would be solved, reduced or increased if they were legalised. Sex between consenting adults should be legal surely? Regardless of if payment or reward is part of the act. Morally I see the objection. What of people who can't for one reason or another go on a date? Should they be denied the joys of the flesh? A basic human instinct? 

Sexual relations are handled differently in countries around the world. Most countries encourage varied forms of monogamy, others polygyny. Even in the case of monogamy, there are numerous countries that impose no restrictions on prostitution, unlike a majority of the communities within the United States and the UK.

In order to discover if legalization is proper, one has to first familiarize oneself with the U.S. prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and the legalization of abortion in the 1970s. The implementation of prohibition was a result of an abolitionist philosophy and caused great harm to the country through lost taxes, increased crime rates and higher suicide rates. Similarly, when the U.S. abandoned its abolitionist stand on abortion, the country benefited from fewer deaths from botched back alley abortions. This proved prohibitionist thinking to be baseless and actually detrimental to communities.

There are many benefits to legalized prostitution. The benefits include (1) allowing law enforcement agencies to respond to more important crimes, (2) freeing justice systems from nuisance cases, (3) helping women who are trapped by prostitution, and (4) preventing teens from being ensnared into prostitution.

When data from countries that ban prostitution is compared with data from countries that do not, many startling discoveries can be observed. Countries without anti-prostitution laws have less murders, less rapes, and prosecute/imprison less people. HIV/AIDS is less of a problem; suicide rates are lower as are divorce rates, too.

Critics of the legalization of prostitution offer no alternative to a troublesome problem. These people would rather adopt the status quo model, which virtually abandons lower strata, low socio-economic prostitutes. Instead of managing the problem, these critics view the continued downward spiral of this subgroup as acceptable.

The critics of legalized prostitution rest comfortably within relatively new moral codes. The religions that now reject prostitution once used to manage it. However, even though religionists publicly denounce prostitution, too many hypocritically entertain like services and commit adultery. The Catholic Church has covered up institutional paedophilia at the expense of demeaning religious values and the lives of those who aspire to follow them*.

Enlightened people within civilized societies pride themselves on the contributions made to others who are less fortunate. Low strata prostitutes clearly rest within the domain of the less fortunate, but the countries who cling to anti-prostitution laws choose to abandon these people and thereby negatively affect the crime, health, and general safety of those nations. One must reconsider whether or not those countries are truly civilized.

The same argument can then be applied to Cannabis. Is there any reason not to legalise it? The people who use Cannabis will use it regardless of it's legal status. Currently the Cannabis trade around the world turns over billions of dollars in revenue. This could be taxed, regulated and would in one swoop reduce gun crime, gang fights, and access to cannabis by minors. There is absolutely no reason why a substance such as cannabis which has no worse effect than alcohol or tobacco on a persons health remains illegal.

Is it time to rethink why such things are illegal?

*references - Liberator, M. (2004) Legalized Prostitution: Regulating the Oldest Profession.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Back scratching!

Really scraping the barrel for post ideas today you may think!
Well ok maybe but I thought earlier in the shower about being single and scrubbing your back. What do you guys use? What is the favoured method? I have a sort of loofah strap which is ace and is so abrasive it you could sand the paint of an armoured car with it. I love it, I almost draw blood with it :) 

I personally don't think that there is enough inventions out there for back scrubbing, 

How about a large loofah mat that you could attach to the wall in the shower and rub against like a bear would? or how about a large round headed brush that could be battery operated and have a revolving head? Or how about rent a scrubber? you could pay someone to come round once a week to give your back a good scrub with a pumice perhaps? Maybe a good franchise idea here?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

We had joy we had fun...........

Today has been one of those perfect days. The sun was shining and there was a premature feel of Springtime in the air. 
My thoughts turned to Summertime and days spent doing whatever it is we do in Summer be it having BBQs, walking the dog, going out on the Motorbike or just lazing around the garden. Then I thought, that is it! That is the holy grail. The meaning of life! Surely? We enjoy the colours of Autumn (read Fall if stateside) endure Winter, enjoy the coming of Spring but we live for the Summer. So enjoying Summer is the meaning of life then? Time spent alone or with family, In our homeland or overseas, all time spent is more enjoyable when basking in the rays of our sun.

With this in mind could we live with perpetual sunshine? Do we need Winter just so we appreciate the Summer? Just as we need bitterness to appreciate sweetness? Would living in perpetual sunshine result in a happy and more content sense of being?

I may have mentioned that I have been wishing to move overseas. I haven't decided on a destination as yet. Southern France and Spain appeal although the language barrier could be an obstacle. That said there are more expats in Spain than anywhere else in the world. The USA appeals massively too although immigration is to stringent even for Brits. 

Why do I want to move, one reason really, I hate, no actually I'll rephrase that I HATE WINTER in the UK. I can't ride my bike, I can't wash or polish my bike/cars. I can't sit in the garden reading, I can't cook outdoors, I can't watch the sunset with a glass (or bottle) of wine. I'm so happy in Summer, I wear nothing but shorts and vest tops. I love the colour that my skin turns. I love the late nights, the songs of birds, the smell of BBQs and the taste of cold beers. I can enjoy the planet on which we live when there is sunshine. 

What is your favourite season and why?

Monday, 18 January 2010

Pillows, soft hard, fat, slim. What do you prefer?

I recently stayed over at some friends house in the spare room. I had an horrendous nights sleep due to the pillows being hard and thin. If I didn't know any better I'd say that they were like paving stones in a cotton slip (obviously they weren't) I have duck down pillows at home, 3 including the dress pillow. They are plump but oh so soft and deep. I love them, I truly do. There is nothing finer than to put your head on those pillows at night and leave the mad world behind for a few hours. I have a really thick and fluffy duvet to match too. 

I'm getting more and more intolerant of crap pillows. I find very few hotels have decent pillows either which makes for a most disturbing nights sleep. In addition they also have sheets and blankets instead of a quilt. How on earth can you sleep under sheets? Especially if they are all tucked in, Arrrrrgh!

 I can't believe how fussy I have become given that a few years ago I would sleep in the car whilst following the British Rally Championship around the forest stages of England. I would have a sleeping bag and a rubbish pillow. I t must be my age, I've hit 40 now and I'm a big comfort lover.

What pillows /quilt/sheet combo do you prefer?

Friday, 15 January 2010

Power to the people

I'm a bit of an oddity when it comes to politics, I'm a big believer I suppose in the Laissez-faire or free market economic ideals. I don't like unions, I don't like censorship, I don't like the level that government intervene. 

That said, I'm not easily placed in a left or right wing camp either. I have things that I believe work and things that don't. 

What has impressed me recently however is the sheer power of social networks, This was apparent during the run up to Christmas when Rage against the machine took the Christmas number one slot of the UK music chart all thanks to one couples silly idea of starting a Facebook campaign for a bit of a laugh! Jon and Tracy Morter from Essex started a group on face book entitled "Fed up with Simon Cowell's latest karaoke act being Christmas No. 1?" and with the viral power of Facebook the membership of the group grew within days.

The couple had suggested a song from the rock band "Rage against the machine" as an alternative. Incredibly, they succeeded and Simon Cowell's X factor winner had to settle for second place.

Jon Morter came up with the crazy idea after hearing that bookmakers no longer take bets on what will be the Christmas number 1. The X factor winner traditionally bags the top spot and Jon thought that was just wrong. So, it would seem did hundreds of thousands of people across the UK!

So, have we turned a corner now? Surely activist groups must have pricked their ears up at this small coup? The next couple of years will be really interesting. 

In the past, the meek and inoffensive people of Britain have demonstrated in our traditional "oops sorry, excuse me, thank you" sort of way against things like fuel tax increases. Truck drivers drive slowly in convoy for a few hours to express their displeasure, or drive to Downing St to present a petition. I've often admired how the French deal with it..... 
They park their trucks in the road, let their sheep wonder about, block all the ports and generally just bring the country to a standstill until they are heard. That is pure people power and I can't help but like it.
It is one thing to elect a government democratically but what do you do when that government start to act against the will of the majority? Maybe, following the success of Jon and Tracy Morter's Facebook campaign we will start to see very strong, organised protests and even protest votes organised through Facebook. Interesting times ahead!

In the words of Robert Lyndsay aka Citizen Smith "Power to the people"

What Facebook campaign would you like to see?

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Make a killing writing iPhone Apps

Apple have really played a blinder over the past few years. The iPhone is one of the best products to hit the mobile market in a long time. 

The winning combination of sleek looks, quality construction and the simple yet brilliant design of using fingertips to navigate around the device has appealed to millions worldwide. Another reason for the success of iPhone is the huge number of applications available from the itunes App store. For those of you who don't know, an application is a little piece of software that can do anything from make noises like a Jedi light Sabre to connect you to Twitter, tell you the weather in your area or turn your iPhone into a spirit level. 

Apple have created an opportunity whereby ANYONE can become a software developer literally overnight. For just $99 per year ANYONE can become a development member. All you need then is a Mac computer, some time, and a little knowledge.

The app store has thousands of apps, some are free (they gain revenue by also displaying advertisements) some are just 99p (or cents) whilst others such as TomTom software are around £50 ($80) Apple take a percentage of app sale revenue but the developer gets the lions share.

Even the most stupid apps make money. There was one available called iSteam which gave the effect of steam on the screen when you breathed into the microphone. In truth you'd probably only use it once or twice to demonstrate the genius of your new phone to your mates before deleting it. the developer grossed a cool $100,000 from this app. 

Another App called iFart which, you guessed it, played fart noises was earning the developer $10,000 PER DAY!
You can see then the potential that becoming a developer offers. In addition to creating your own apps, developers who know there way around can command exceptional fees for creating apps on behalf of corporations who want to get in on the iPhone party.

I've done a little bit of digging as it does seem something that with a little effort could bring exceptional rewards

Sams Teach Yourself iPhone Application Development in 24 HoursiPhone apps are written in the programming language "Objective-C" and Cocoa touch. These languages although not easy can be learned within a matter of weeks if you are dedicated enough to learn. There are some great resources out there (and some crap ones) a good place to start would be to read this book, "Teach yourself iPhone Application Development in 24 hours" this book assumes you have no previous knowledge of programming but does rely on you being able to use (and own) a mac. Another good book is from the renowned "dummies" series iPhone Application Development For Dummies

Both these books will have you writing iPhone apps by the time you have finished them. You then simply need to take what you have learned and come up with an app that people will want. 

If you do hit the big time, remember me when you are ordering your first Bentley! :)

What sort of app would you like to see on the iPhone?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Trust in a bottle!

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian Psychologist who discovered or pioneered a theory of "conditioned reflex" In addition to other methods Pavlov recorded that a dog would salivate before being given food. He then conducted tests which involved using a stimulus such as ringing a bell just before he fed the dog. After repeating this procedure the dog then associated the sound of the bell with food. Pavlov then observed that the dog would salivate when the bell rang even if no food was present. This was a "conditioned reflex"

NLP (Neuro Lingusitic Programming) is a modern program of psychotherapy not generally accepted by the Psychology profession but embraced by Hypnotherapists, stage magicians and business training companies. I have studied NLP in depth over the years and adopted some of its methods with reasonable success whilst developing sales training programs for my staff. 

An important part of NLP is anchoring. This essentially follows the Pavlov theory in so far as an Anchor is a a memory or feeling triggered by the senses. For Instance, When I first visited Egypt I used Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil, whenever I smell the stuff now it takes me right back to that holiday in Egypt, the feeling, the ambience. It has become an Anchor for me. Whenever I hear "Bat out of hell" by Meatloaf it takes me back to being a kid at the Ice Rink, at the end of the night the speed skaters were allowed on, the lights were dimmed and Meatloaf was played, another Anchor.

A huge industry has now sprung up around these Anchors, Marketing gurus understand the concept well and use them to the full potential when selling to us.

It is amazing just how powerful our senses are in influencing how we feel and what we do. Supermarkets buy aromas to simulate the smell of freshly baked bread. They pump it into the air around the bread aisles to stimulate sales of fresh bread products.

I've spotted a couple of products lately when browsing through affiliate sites. One is Pheromone Spray and the other is Trust Spray. Both are targeted at men who are wanting to attract females although I did spot one that claimed to be specifically for Gays. How or if these sprays work I have no idea but they do rely on Anchoring facts to sell them.
The Pheromone spray seems straight forward, It would appear that we are each programmed to be attracted the the natural niff of our sexual opposites much as animals are. If pheromones can be reproduced in a laboratory then  it is perhaps safe to assume that they would attract the opposite sex, or a pack of randy dogs, or they may just make you smell as if you haven't showered all week! who knows?

I do not know what aroma is involved in these so called "Trust" sprays that would appeal generically. For instance, You may well have trusted your Uncle Bill as a child and he may well of had the smell of tobacco on him. This would subconsciously make you trust people who had a tobacco smell on them. But this doesn't mean the same smell would work for your friend. Their Uncle may have been very mean and cold and also had a smell of tobacco so for them the anchor would be reversed. The smell of tobacco on a person would make them avoid that person.
I'm using tobacco as an example, Kind Uncle Bill may have carried the smell of petrol or treacle toffee or Chanel, you get my point. that Anchor would be personal to you so how can a generic trust smell be produced?

NLP is a really interesting subject if you are involved with dealing with the public or selling or negotiating. Check it out.

What Anchors do you recognise in your life? A certain smell, a certain song, 
Liquid Trust         Pherone Formula V-5 Pheromone Cologne for Men to Attract Women, with 5mg of Human Pheromones      Sourcebook of Magic: A Comprehensive Guide to NLP Change Patterns      NLP: The New Technology of Achievement

Monday, 11 January 2010

Monday controversial subject - GOD - fact or fiction?

I deliberated for a while before writing this post, In fact as I write it is only Monday and so I was going to schedule this post to go live as the Friday "controversial" post. I am aware that there are subjects or subscribers of different religions who read this blog and I do not wish to offend, alienate or otherwise any particular religion or reader. 

I do hope however for some interesting and thought provoking replies.


Ok, so God, What is God? According to Wikipedia, "God is a deity in theistic and deistic religions and other belief systems, representing either the sole deity inmonotheism, or a principal deity in polytheism.[1]" 

At this point it starts to get confusing so rather than discuss topics such as Monothesim and polytheism we'll just stick to the basics and discuss how God or the belief /disbelief in God or a God affects us personally and the world we live in.

I will at this juncture disclose that although I do not like labels, I suppose my belief/disbelief would put me somewhere between the atheist and agnostic camp therefore I have no bias towards any religion.

So to explain my standing a little, at age ten I lost my Mother to cancer, Ovarian Cancer that had spread to her lungs before she even knew that she was ill. She was just 34. So, at the age of ten I simultaneously lost my belief in Father Christmas and God. There was no other reason for Mum to die other than she had Cancer, that was it. It wasn't her time, she hadn't committed a crime. The simple fact was, she had cancer and it had taken her life. 

And that event formed my belief. I couldn't accept that a creator of such outstanding talent could build in a flaw into mankind such a cancer without correcting his mistake. If Ford make a car with a steering defect then they issue a recall notice and all the defects are repaired. Why wasn't this the case with God? I could only work on facts from that point onwards. And the facts as I saw them age 10 were :

1) Father Christmas couldn't possibly have visited every kid in the world in one evening. Where was his factory / warehousing situated? Father Christmas it seemed was an imaginary character used to keep kids "in check".

2) God simply cannot exist (If Father Christmas couldn't be everywhere in one night then nor could God)  Where is heaven? We have been to the moon, surely we should have found it? God was an imaginary "concept" used to keep society "in check"

3) Cancer kills

So since the age of 10 I have lived without any influence from the church or religion of any kind. I'm aware that there are Christians and Mormons and followers of other religions who read this blog and who have blogs that I follow. I wont pretend to understand the differences between religion. Nor will I attempt to understand what religion offers people. I guess it offers strength and focus certainly in times of trouble. I suppose that I understand that although I had to find the strength within, I suppose there is little difference.

I know in general that most religions believe in an afterlife. It is this one point that prevents me from saying I am an atheist. I certainly believe in spirits. I was having this conversation with a friend the other evening. When a person dies and you see the body then that is all you are a looking at, a body that the person used whilst on this earth. But where has the life gone?  The spirit that gave this person a unique personality, a sense of humour, a set of beliefs, an education. So I believe an energy, a spirit, call it what you will, does exist and that is what gives us life. A body will decompose after death but what becomes of this life force? Does it go to earth as electricity would? Does it go to heaven? if so where is this heaven?

As a race we have developed so much over the past 2000 years that we are able to prove and disprove pretty much any theory. 2010 years ago Somebody died named Jesus. I actually do believe this bit. Well I believe he actually lived. I'm not sure how we would know either way if he was born in a manger to a married Virgin. (I may have gotten this bit wrong so please correct me) I do believe however that there is a strong possibility that Jesus was not dissimilar to David Blane for instance in so far as theatricals were concerned. I believe he had good intentions however and that his legend was created by fanatical followers. 

Anyone who follows Motorsport will have heard of the late Fangio. You will hear stories of his driving abilities that portray him as a racing god. Yes he was good, yes he won some races but he got infinitely better once he had died. And the more years that pass the more legendary he has become. If truth be known he wasn't that good at all, not by modern standards. Schumacher has surpassed all Fangios achievements against much stiffer competition. But legend, and myth has created a racing god by whom all others who follow are judged.

King Arthur is another classic example. A Mythical tale of King Arthur and the knights of the round table were made even more potent by stories of a sword named Excalibur. A 12th Century fanciful book tells how King Arthur led the defence of Britain in the 6th Century against invading Saxons.  It is widely believed that although King Arthur didn't actually exist per se, the character was based an an actual Romano-British leader. 

I would dearly love proof that King Arthur existed all those years ago. Truly I would. The recent movie "King Arthur" starring Kiera Knightly and Clive Owen is a fantastic story of bravado and gallant actions. The chances are however that he didn't exist. At least not as King. 

Regardless of if he did or he didn't it wouldn't change my life today. I'd still have bills to pay, I'd still worry over my Fathers health. 

So back to religion. As far as I am aware the main cause for war and terrorist acts around the world today is differences in religious beliefs. This is where it gets really difficult for me to understand. In the UK there are many churches/places of worship. These are still relatively popular although numbers have waned over the years. The people who frequent these establishments strike me as being caring, sensible and upright citizens. Why then are there followers of religion around the world who are willing to pilot an aircraft filled with other humans into a building? Why are there faithful subjects who are willing to strap explosives to themselves in the name of religion?

If someone could provide me with something concrete then it would change my perspective. I've looked at different religions at various times in my life with curiosity. The one that appeals to me most is Buddhism as it seems to rely more on inner beliefs and strengths rather than external beliefs. It is more a philosophy than a religion.

So what place does religion have in a modern society? Which religion is right? They obviously all can't be right.  What does the church mean to you? Is it a security blanket? A social centre? Why can't subjects of each religion just coexist in peace? Do you have blind or absolute faith or do you have no doubts at all to the existence of your God?