May Contain Spoilers

I love quizzes. Some of them are my favourite TV programmes, particularly Pointless, Mastermind and University Challenge. But lately there seems to be a small contingent of people trying to spoil my enjoyment of such programmes and it is frankly getting on my wick!

You see, I time shift my TV viewing. I don’t really like being told when I should watch a programme. I nearly always record EVERYTHING I watch. The only thing I ever watch ‘live’ is the news. Everything else is generally viewed on delay.

University Challenge is one of these programmes. Now, I don’t think of myself as in any way academic or brainy, but I like to test myself and sometimes due to recall (it can hardly be called ‘knowledge’ having a penchant for remembering things), I get a few answers right and feel a little more worthy of being a human on planet earth.

Now, I don’t mind the odd spoiler on a TV programme that’s drama or documentary based, these things can be easily avoided…but when people are tweeting answers to questions on University Challenge at the time it airs, I just have to wonder why? Why? Is your life that meaningless you feel the need to try to make yourself superior in a tweet stream? You surely CANNOT tweet an answer before the student(s) give(s) it?

I find it the hight of abuse of twitter etiquette to do such a thing.

This started with one lady I recently begun following. She seemed nice and thought I’d start following her. The first Monday night this happened (the Uni Challenge answer tweets), I let it slide. The second, I unfollowed her. Call that cruel – and perhaps maybe I should have said something (I did tweet a generalised note of ire about spoilers that night), but I’m sure she’d have felt she was doing nothing wrong. Perhaps she isn’t. Perhaps I’m just too damn uptight.

But tonight is the straw that broke the camel’s back! A friend on twitter whom I have followed for some time now has started doing the same thing! Now I am finding myself caught between a rock and a hard place. I make general tweets about spoilers and my dislike of them and how I time shift my television viewing but it seems to fall upon deaf ears (or is read by blind eyes!). And now I think, do I unfollow this lady? For good, just on Monday nights? What if I forget to follow her again come Tuesday morning? Am I being too anal?

I do love social networks and I love the sharing nature of them, but there HAS to be some etiquette! I try my damnedest not to reveal spoilers. A make general remarks “it’s good” – “you’ll like it” etc. If I am going to be specific I WARN people. I try to make my book reviews on Goodreads thorough but elusive to try to avoid giving spoilers and if I have to refer to something specific I use the *spoiler* tags. but when others don’t follow the basic etiquette, that’s when I fall out of love with socials >.<

Question Time? Apathy Time, Twitter Time.

I want to be interested in politics but if that means me sitting at home on my harris each Thursday night watching Question Time, tweeting about it, pretending to all that I care – instead of ACTUALLY doing something (but hey, you know, it’s Apathetic Britain, right?), then I’m out! I’m not even going to pretend to care.

My voice means nothing and to delude myself that it DOES (and to not be pro-active enough to actually delude myself even MORE that it does) is ridiculous.

If one million protesters couldn’t change the mind of Blair on the decision for war in Iraq, what chance do we have against Thatcheron?

Delude yourselves if you want to.

I have been Duncan Bannatyne, goodnight!

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Society’s Outcasts?

Just watching the news and they were showing Labour leader Ed Miliband visiting the Birmingham suburb of Dudley today. He went to a local ASDA supermarket and spoke to staff.

One lady said “The ones 4 or 5 houses down, they don’t work. They’ve never worked. They just have children and more children but they’re the ones that all wear designer clothes and manage to go on the holidays and everything else. Whereas we [ASDA staff] have to work really hard.”

Nobody on benefits BUYS designer clothes! If her ‘work shy’ neighbours are wearing designer clothes it’s one of three things. 1) They’re cheap ‘knock offs’ and NOT designer clothes 2) They’ve perhaps shoplifted the clothes 3) They are involved in some other sort of criminal activity.

Anyone who is allegedly claiming benefits, work shy, yet ‘well off’ is most likely involved in criminal activity because I for one have personal experience of living on benefits and you CANNOT afford these things.

Don’t tar us all with the same brush and certainly do NOT delude yourself that our life is in ANY WAY palatial!

Crime Against (Supposed) Crime.

Please explain to me WHY so many people seem to be so anti-BBC?

Is it because people believe it to be a monster? Do people deem it too big for its boots? Do people believe there’s a lack of quality programming? Is it the whole Ross/Brand “Sachsgate” scandal? Are BBC bosses and controllers overpaid? Are BBC entertainers overpaid?

The debate arose again last night as I was listening to radio station LBC and Clive Bull. He started to talk about the TV licence. More to the point, trying to see if he was able to talk to one of the reported 200,000+ people that evade paying their TV licence. This figure has increased in the last financial year and he wanted to eke out whether it was purely financial reasons as to why people were no longer willing to pay their TV licence or whether something more underlying was accounting for TV licence dodging.

Clive wanted to know whether there was anyone out there happy to pay their TV licence. If it had not been so late at night and I was not so shy to make the call, I would have called in to say “me”! I WANT to pay my TV licence, because I can see what I’m getting for my money.

One man called in to say that he didn’t pay his TV licence as he no longer watched any live TV. He used his television to watch DVD’s via his DVD player. So cautious was he to evade getting grievance from the TV licensing body, that he severed his coaxial cable from the aerial on his roof. Clive pointed out that this move would be unlikely to be enough as the man’s TV would still have a tuner within it and therefore the ability to receive live television. That what the man would need to have is a computer monitor with no TV tuner within the screen.

So the man says “Right. This is where I am confused. So even though I don’t actually watch live television, because I have a TV with a tuner, I can still be deemed to be breaking the law?” Yes, says Clive. “Oh”, says the man “but that’s unfair and unclear”. In my mind I was thinking “Well, to avoid confusion or potential prosecution, I suggest you buy an LCD monitor with no tuner”, which Clive sort of went on to say himself. The man finished his conversation with Clive by saying “I’m quite anti-BBC really, but I do like their news web site. So if I’m on there and I see a link that says “watch now”, I’m breaking the law if I watch the clip?” Yes, says Clive.

The fact that the man begrudgingly confessed to using some BBC content wasn’t enough for him to think “Well, you know, maybe I should pay my TV licence?” Melon!

Do these people not think of the content that is provided to them for what amounts to 38p a day? That’s the price of a Kit-Kat! So, for the price of a Kit-Kat a day, you get advertisement free TV across eight BBC TV channels, a multitude of radio stations, including the BBC World Service. You have access to the wonderful BBC iPlayer (a chance to catch missed programmes via an online service that allows you to watch and download TV programmes and listen to radio shows for one week after original broadcast). You have online content via bbc.co.uk, including a news web site that is second to none. You also get a wealth of stunning programmes from documentaries, to drama. A lot of my favourite programmes are produced by the BBC including Doctor Who and Torchwood.

How on earth can you argue with getting that amount of content for 38p a day?!

There are so many who argue why they should pay a TV licence when they are on something like Sky. Get some perspective! Sky charges MORE for its basic service at £16.50 a month (and who, quite frankly gets Sky for its basic package? No one!), which is NOT advertisement free for that cost of subscription either, than the TV licence does. And with Sky’s basic package you are getting LESS content. Why anyone would pay to have Sky is beyond me!

Please! For those people who are hell bent on BBC bashing, please stop and think about what we have here in this country. A multimedia service that is revered around the world for providing quality and excellence and costs us all (well, those who pay it) a Kit-Kat a day.

Clive asked last night “So if people aren’t paying their TV licence, what are the consequences? I can see the consequences of people not paying car insurance, premiums go up. Does this mean TV licence dodgers will make the TV licence go up? What *ARE* the consequences?”

Well, surely the consequences would be programming and services will suffer. That perhaps something like Doctor Who would not have been put back on the screen, and certainly not with the love and financial backing it has received to make it more popular than ever.

The BBC news site would just be like some other ramshackle news site where you have to tread through mud to see content that is most relevant to you.

Things like the BBC Action Line would get cut. It’s there for people who may need to seek guidance or advice from seeing story lines in dramas or topics in documentaries that affect people greatly. Discussions on rape or medical conditions, cancer, mental health issues, etc, the BBC Action Line is a point of call for people to turn to if they want to discuss with someone how a certain subject in programming has affected them.

Funding for things like that would just cease to be.

I just urge people to please think about what they get for their 38p a day before they slag it (the BBC and TV licensing) off.

Who’d Have Thought Watching Cricket Could Be So Hard.

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I really wanted to watch the cricket this summer. I’m not into it much these days, but when the Ashes is on (England v Australia test series) I like to be able to watch.

Last time it was on, four years ago, I got to watch all but one test in Australia, as I was over there while most of the the series was on. The Aussies don’t have to pay anything to watch it, as it’s on Free-To-Air TV (aired on SBS).

I can’t remember what happened with the last test, but my memory is that I was able to watch the days play on TV, not have to resort to waiting for highlights in the evening. So this time I was REALLY peed off when I realised the only way I was going to be able to watch it live was to have Sky.

I couldn’t afford to commit to a 12 month contract to have Sky in the home. The minimum outlay of £35 a month was enough of a put off, but most likely it would cost around £55 a month. Just INSANE! The only other option was to use the Sky Player online. At £34 a month it was a better option. No 12 month contract, so you could use it just for one month, as it would be charged on a month by month basis. From July 1st, Sky had a special where you could have Sky Player half price in July and August. At £17 a month, that sounded a good deal.

Sky Player requires you to run a Microsoft-based Adobe Flash alternative, Silverlight. Things like YouTube and BBC’s iPlayer are flash-based – they work on Linux run machines – Silverlight doesn’t. Silverlight only runs on Windows and Mac based machines.

So, I bit the bullet and singed up. As we had a Mac, threre was a good chance it would work well. And it did. On the Mac it was good. The picture quality was nice and fluid, and there was rarely any interferance or disruption.

I got to watch the first test with a minimum of problems. Come the second test, Friday morning, day two of the second test, we suffered a lightning strike which struck some of our equipment, including the Mac. No cricket watching then.

Before this test started (the third test), we ordered a replacement machine. It’s a killer spec. which has given us a 2.66gh Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and 4GB of DDR2 RAM. But because Sky Player uses Silverlight and there is no version of the that works for Linux (I’ve installed Moonlight – but it DOESN’T work!), we are ruduced to using a version of Windows XP (it would hardly matter if it were Vista OR Windows 7). Sky Player doesn’t work properly on its “native” platform (IE: a Windows machine with Silverlight installed). Sky Player just buffers ALL the time. By comparison, on the Mac it might have buffered maybe three or four times all day. On a Windozes [sic] machine, it can buffer as much as three times in 5 minutes!!

I might have a little leeway and it might not buffer for 10 minutes – but that’s the most it’ll play continusly without trouble. Most of the time I rectifying buffers that happen every 5 mins or so, rendering it almost unwatchable.

Today, in frustration, I’ve given up. I’m just listening to the radio now.

As we came up to August 1st, I said to Em it might be best if we just cancel the Sky Player subscription as I didn’t hold out much hope to be able to watch anything if we were moving away from a Mac. I wish I had now. We might not have been able to as I think the deal with the £17 a month special was to have it for a minimum of two months, but I would have liked to have tried to cancel the account and not waste another £17.

Can I just say, Rupert Murdoch is a count! (take off the “o”)

So thank you Sky, thank you Silverlight, thank you Microsoft, but most of all, thank you lightning strike for making my summer of watching cricket a living nightmare!

ARGH!

Timber!

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wooden heart, originally uploaded by gobayode photography.

Yesterday one of the nearby neighbours had three large conifers chopped down. It’s JULY. That’s still in the nesting season.

Now I know for certain that Mr & Mrs Blackbird had their nest in one of these conifers. Yes, their two chicks had fledged quite some time ago, but it proves to me that other bird species would have been nesting in those trees.

All afternoon I watched endless pigeons fly around wondering where their “houses” had gone. It’s so terrible to see animals in distress.

This morning there was a juvenile blackbird in our garden, sitting on the lawn looking sorry for himself. What if Mr & Mrs B had bred again? There was time enough in the year for them to do that. Lots of bird species have more than one brood if there is ample time in the season to do so.

It is illegal to fell trees that have active nests. You are meant to inspect before going ahead with any fells. I really get the impression this did NOT happen yesterday.

I haven’t seen Mr B at all in the last 24 hours. I’m sure poor Mr & Mrs B will move on now and we’ll no longer have resident blackbirds 😦

I want to cry!

I’m not against the peoples right to fell the trees in their garden. But what I *DO* object to is them doing it at this time of year. They should have waited until September, when the nesting season was fully over with.

It made me feel SO sad yesterday. I couldn’t help but feel for the birds.

The misanthrope in me was at its highest yesterday.

It’s Not Hat-making. It’s Not The Airport. It’s Not The Motor Plant…

So what *IS* the largest line of trade in Luton, I hear you ask? Well, given the number of leaflets coming in through my mail slot yesterday, Luton’s biggest line of business is fast food (and/or leaflet delivery).

Four individual leaflets came in yesterday! So what would you like? Indian, Indian, kebabs or pizza? They were all posted by separate distributors too!

So Luton has shifted status from “Crap Town” and home of MP expenses claimer Margaret Moran to Fast Food capital of Eastern England!

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Viva Luton!!