I'm actually in denial it's the new year. It can't really have passed by that quickly.
They've missed out on some of the months. They must have done. Was there an
April? And what about October, I don't remember there being an October?
I do remember The Rise of the Silver Surfer, the disappearance of Madeline, demolishing the garden shed, and a few other things really got
my goat during the year, but here's my top ten....
Gordon Brown Continuing to annoy me. He became Prime Minister, bottled an election, quietly signed the
Lisbon treaty passing further powers away to the EU, promised a government of "all
the talents" then lost the personal details of 25million people, had a
party funding scandal, pledged an end to spin while in the same breath
claiming to have reduced the rate of corporation tax (not quite, there was
an increase for small companies - the so called backbone of the economy).
The Tories say he's the wrong man, but of course they would, wouldn't they!
Carbon footprint In 2007 our carbon footprints became big
business. The Chancellor has been rubbing his hands in glee at the prospect of being
able to introduce new types of taxes, and companies have been dressing in floral
prints designed by their marketers. This latest fashion of "social
responsibility" is being paraded on the catwalk in front of us mug
consumers. Meanwhile there seems to be a whole body of evidence accumulating
to suggest man-made C02 plays only a minor, insignificant role in climate
change. When trying to finds the facts on Google I found instead near
Freudian hysteria and contributions from people who seem to think they're in
a movie. The consequences of man-made climate change, wrote one budding
actor, will be "worse, much much worse......eventual extinction".
Nobel Peace Prize
In keeping with "the year of the footprint" this year the Nobel Prize for Peace was shared between an organisation and
Al Gore. They each get half a prize
for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge
about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures
that are needed to counteract such change". Why did Al Gore get
a prize for his video? There's even doubts it was actually true, like, get
down to the bookies - there may yet be a chance of Jeremy Clarkson winning
in 2008 for his continued work on Top Gear.
Virgin Media Launched on February 14th, V-Day. Steve Burch, CEO of NTL, was quoted at the time
as saying "Virgin Media will shake up the market by bringing the Virgin
traditions of value-for-money, brilliant customer service and innovation to
the world of entertainment and communications." However, a bungled negotiation
with BSkyB led to the loss of popular channels such as Sky 1, Sky News, Sky 2,
Sky Travel, Sky 3.... 40,000 customers fled in the first three months,
perhaps they knew the virgin traditions of "value for money, brilliant
customer service and innovation" are a branding screen thrown up to
hide a normal company. They don't mean anything. Did we see our TV charges
reduce with less channels? No. Did we see phone charges increase? Yes Sir we
Windows Vista The biggest technological disappointment of 2007
despite an R&D bill of £10bn, Windows Vista, actually seems to be an operating system designed for
teenagers to help organise their media files. It seems a ridiculous use
of hardware to spend on unnecessarily indexing every file and on fancy
graphics like transparency which don't add anything and, in fact,
hamper the experience. First set of tasks to do if you're a consumer
stuck with Vista and you can't return it - turn off windows sidebar, un-tick all files in Indexing
options, change update settings, change control panel to classic view,
change start menu to classic, and yes, download open
office as you won't be able to use Excel.
HMRC It doesn't look like we'll ever see a video podcast or a
YouTube channel explaining the ongoing delays to VAT applications which
continued throughout 2007. The HMRC website, now in 2008, still displays the
same notice since 2006, "Please be aware we are currently experiencing processing delays
with both paper and online applications". Applications can take up to
six months to process, clearly inconveniencing small business. No
practical guidance is given by HMRC on what to do during this lengthy application
period. They just don't care, they're opening premise - "everyone's a
crook" - guides all policy.
Tesco What's Tesco becoming? On my last visit of 2007 to Tesco
Express in Port Solent my conclusion was a village. It has it's own
pharmacy, a Costa Coffee, a supermarket, what appears to be an Argos, a
department store, a Krispy Kreme Doughnut, and an opticians. The trouble is
the supermarket is a mess, boxes on the ground, empty shelves, off products
and staff pushing cages everywhere. You have to literally dodge the cages
because they can't see what's in front when they're pushing. And there are plans
to add a dentist practice to this village. I'd actually prefer if they
brought in another supermarket chain, a company that knows how to run a
supermarket, because Tesco seem to have forgotten.
Celebrity Rehab Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty, Lyndsay Lohan
et al, all seemingly gone off the rails. They go into rehab, they come out,
they get drunk or spaced, get pictured without their underwear, get spaced,
go into rehab, and it's all front page news. I'm just not intersted. Why
can't they just get a grip?
Open Season on the Games The 2012 logo was launched on Monday
the 4th of June and was almost instantly and unanimously derided
(including by me). The jagged, graffiti design was likened to Lisa Simpson
performing a lewd sex act. Within three days almost 50,000 people signed an
online petition calling for the logo to be scrapped, an animated version had
to be pulled from broadcast over fears the effects cause epileptic seizure.
It was open season on "the Games", all year in fact, the underlying theme being, it's being
run by a bunch of incompetents who don't know what they're doing. It'll be
wrong and over budget. Guffaw! How could they forget the VAT? See point six
above on HMRC, who in the end decided they couldn't register.
Big Brother Following the celebrity Big Brother race row, the
ugly bullying of Shilpa Shetty, and Carphone Warehouse withdrawing
sponsorship for the programme, we quietly hoped 2007 would be the last year
of Big Brother. But no, it's continued....
If you're buying retail and go into any of the high street stores such as PC
World, Comet, Currys, John Lewis, Dixons, Tesco all laptops on sale come
pre-installed with Windows Vista. If you go online to Compaq, Toshiba, Sony, HP,
Acer and the rest, you have no choice but to buy Windows Vista. In fact, all
websites display the same message "Toshiba recommends Windows Vista",
"HP recommends Windows Vista", "VAIO recommends Windows
Vista", "Acer recommends Windows Vista" on and on ad nauseam.
With the consistent wording, these recommendations clearly originate from
Microsoft rather than clinical engineering tests. Microsoft are heavily
incentivising manufacturers to push Vista which has unbelievably been in
development since 2001, consuming Microsoft people and money. Despite this,
Vista, delivered three years late, doesn't perform any better than XP and needs
some serious hardware just to run the graphical "Aero" interface such
as 1GB of system memory and a 40GB hard drive capacity.
Business customers running Vista Business were thrown a life buoy, being quietly
allowed to "downgrade" to XP. Retail customers, however, don't
have the same licensing choice. If you have it, you're stuck with it. The main change in Vista is the unnecessary user
interface and an improved search function as it tries to catch up with Google.
Oh, and My Computer has been renamed Computer.
With Vista OS I am reminded of the Apple II being replaced with the Apple III
in the early 1980s. The Apple III was designed by Marketeers and was the beginning
of the end of Apples leading market position until it started to find itself
again with the iPod. Vista has the look and feel of a development being led by
Marketeers, it's not an operating system of choice.
So what is the alternative? As you can't seem to buy a laptop with XP you can
return to Apple and the MAC OS (once it's not the "leopard" 10.5) or
you can build your own with a Linux distribution such as Ubuntu,
i.e. buy a Vista Laptop and uninstall the Vista OS. For the moment, my choice is
not to buy.
Despite having the Techguys
with "a wealth of knowledge, years of experience and unrivalled expertise
in all manner of computer and technology related challenges" I couldn't get
onto the PC World website as it was too busy. I am advised the store will open
soon, and bizarrely, am asked to try again in 1430 minutes.
1430 minutes, why that's just under 24 hours? What's the matter, can't the
Techguys get the load balancing on the servers right? Is the challenge too
great? Or maybe PC World, ironically, just doesn't have the hardware?
By the way, I assume the 1430 minutes is an error in their calculations,
unless they've been really clever and included a variable to cover the amount of
time a visitor will waste trying to find a laptop without rubbish Vista
Wouldn't it be useful if PC World added operating system into their search
function? You might feel you actually had a choice, even if it was only to