Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Forex Trading

I've found a fascinating site talking about Forex Trading.
There's a huge amount of information there, how to actually do it, what the rewards can be and so on. It's true that vast amounts of money can indeed be made in playing in this market, as George Soros has proven.
I've been asked to give my views on hte site and as far as it is laid out I think it's great. It quickly goes from hte basics to hte nuts and blots of what it is actually necessary to do and then into the techniques that one might use for trading.

However, there's one little bit that I think should be emphasised a little more. That Forex Trading
is in fact a zero sum game. Whatever is made by one participant in the market is lost by another. I think it's important that people should be told that before they pit their wits and skills against the other participants in the market.

Disclosure Policy.

The Priest and His Girlfriend

I know this is an old story but I've only just come across this blog.

A bogus priest and his girlfriend tricked an Austrian pensioner out of $200 after promising him a naked bathtub session with the woman.

"The bogus priest and his girlfriend ran a bath for the pensioner, who undressed and got in straight away," a police spokeswoman in the northern Austrian town of Linz said on Wednesday.

The pensioner waited in the tub for about 10 minutes, but when he heard cupboards being opened and closed in the living room, he emerged from the bathroom and chased the pair out of his flat, she said.

Now leave aside the bit about a priest offering his girlfriend to you for a backrub and think instead about the much more basic point. How many priests actually have girlfriends anyway?

Personal Finance

One of the problems we all have with personal finance is that it is all so complicated. The basic idea, that lower charges and lower interest rates are better

is imsple enough, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, or people out there willing to lend us money on a dizzyingly large variety of terms.

So what we actually want is a way to compare loans, to find out what it is that everyone is offering and then be able to decide which is the best deal for us. Fortunately, click through and you'll find a site that does just that. For example, on credit cards, on car insurance, saving accounts and mortgages.

With so many different offers out there, different interest rates, different requirements, ages, proof of incomes or not, all the hundreds and even thousands of variations that are possible, you really do need a guide to help you through the different possibilities. Well worth checking out.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

California Driver Education

Certainly things have changed since I was there: driver education in California now requires that you take a state approved test before you can get your learner's permit. I am glad that wasn't in place when I took my California driver's test: I would never have managed to do what I did, arrive in the country and rent a condo, buy a car, get a licence, get the house furnished and everything insured in just 8 days.

However, don't despair, there are simple ways to deal with the problem. One option is to get this program dealing with driver education in California. It's a state approved course, so it meets the rules, but the difference is that you can do most of the work at home. Once you've studied this, you can get your learner's permit. Now what is the value of being able to do this at home? Well, you can do it in your own time, at your own speed. There's no need for parents to ferry you off to classes at a particular time and that all just makes life so much easier.

The second option for California driver education is to look at that program, the virtual one. This is computer based and allows you to learn safe and effective driving techniques from your own room! You can simply log on when you want to and take parts of the course. Again, the value is that you can do this when you have time to, not working to the rigid timetable of organised classes. It's also true that we all learn more when we are the only student, not being distracted by those around us.

Either or both programs will teach you in the way the law insists you must be, so that you can complete your California driver education and get your learner's permit.

After that, it's driving on the real roads to gain experience, and no one has quite worked out yet a simpler way to do that.

The Love Caravan

There are certainly areas of the UK (like the Forest of Dean) where this idea of a Love Caravan would be of great benefit to the gene pool of the local population:

HOYOCASERO, Spain (Reuters) - Cupid can always use a little encouragement, especially in a remote Spanish village.

With that in mind, about 150 women traveled by bus to Hoyocasero on Saturday in response to an Internet plea from men tired of being alone.

Commonly known as "una caravana de mujeres" (a caravan of women), the travelers were met with flowers by cheering men eager for a love match -- or at least a good party.

For the 400 residents of the isolated mountain village of Hoyocasero, a mass invite seemed like a good idea in the face of a declining population. The "caravan" appeal was first tried 20 years ago by a similarly love-lorn Spanish village and has since been used in dozens of places across the country.

"Meeting someone this way, it's more rustic and authentic ... it's easier to get to know someone face to face," said 32-year-old farmer Cesar del Rio, whose family has lived in Hoyocasero for centuries.

Maybe someone would like to pass this idea on to that Norfolk MP who claimed that all of his constituents were inbred?


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Lemon Free

I've always found it amusing the way that certain words can move from slang, to academia and back out into slang again. Take the word "lemon" for example. It started out meaning a junk car, one that had so many faults with it that no rational person would actually want to buy it.

It then moved into academia when the paper " The Market for Lemons" explored the wilds of asymmetrical information and won its author the Nobel.

Now it's back out in the general language, in the name of this site: Lemon Free Car Classifieds. Meaning, of course, that the second hand cars on that site are entirely free from lemons.

It's free to list your car and it covers the nation. For example, here's their listings for the Ford Mustang and here's the Toyota Camry .

You can search by model, by location, work out which is more important to you: absolutely the right car but far away, or something close but closer? Up to you but if you're in the market for a used car it's a site that's well worth checking out.

Disclosure Policy.

The Road to a Long Life

It would appear that the road to a long life is not to have sex:

A 107-year-old Hong Kong villager, who still enjoys an occasional smoke, has attributed his longevity in part to decades of sexual abstinence, a newspaper said on Sunday.

"I don't know why I have lived this long," Chan Chi -- one of Hong Kong's oldest people -- was quoted as saying in the South China Morning Post during an annual feast for the city's elders.

"Maybe it has to do with the fact that I have lived a sex-less life for many years -- since I was 30," said Chan, a widower whose youthful bride perished during the Japanese invasion in World War Two.

Chan, from Hong Kong's less built-up New Territories hinterland, was pictured looking sprightly and eating heartily at the banquet.

Cue the old joke about a life without sex not actually making you live longer, it just seems that way. Perhaps he's only actually 40 after all?

Monday, February 26, 2007

HID and Xenon

Have you heard about how HID lights can improve the driver's view of the road ahead and any obstacles or curves that might be coming?

Sure you have, but the thing is, you've been put off by the thought of having to intall them, haven't you? So, good news then, you can go here to read all about the HID Kit & Xenon Headlights. The ease of installation, why you want the kit as well as the headlights.

Increase your vision upon the road, why not? It makes both you and your passengers safer: not to mention all the other people on the road as well.

Disclosure Policy.

The Departed: Best Movie Oscar

Looks like Martin Scorcese has finally won his Oscar for Best Director: and the movie, The Departed, also got Best Picture:

On a night when Hollywood seemed unsure of what it liked, "The Departed" became the first crime story since 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs" to win an Academy Award as best picture. Its five nominations yielded four prizes, making it the top winner on an evening when the love of Oscar voters was spread widely but not particularly deep.

Each of the other four best picture nominees -- "Babel," "Letters From Iwo Jima," "Little Miss Sunshine" and "The Queen" -- took home at least one prize, and the dark fantasy "Pan's Labyrinth" won three prizes of the six for which it was in contention.

Despite all that largesse, the night was surely sweetest for Martin Scorsese, who won his first directing Oscar for "The Departed" after failing in five previous nominations. His prize redressed a long-standing wrong that saw the most revered American director of the past three-plus decades Oscar-less while such part-time directors as Mel Gibson and Kevin Costner had beaten him head-to-head.

The best part of the report though is the final para:

In addition, Jerry Seinfeld performed a brief bit of stand-up, there were weird little unexplained dance pieces, and a comic song of sorts was performed by the troika of Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly. The resulting tedium gave new life to the perennial Oscar night conundrum: How does a business full of entertainers come together every year to produce such a lifeless evening?


Outdoor Lighting

As regular readers will know we've just bought a new (to us) house down here and are in the process of getting it fixed up. In fact, the builders come in next Monday. Also arriving is the electricion to rewire the place. This means that we need to find the actual light fittings we want him to install. Like the Bathroom Lights and the outdoor lighting, in fact a huge range of home and garden lighting.

So I'm glad I've found that site under those links. A huge range of just what we need at excellent prices. Excuse me while I go and browse, will you?

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Anna Nicole Smith: Still Not Buried

The fighting over the corpse of Anna Nicole Smith goes on. All of this is because of the possible inheritance, of course, and the end result of that will be as in Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, that the lawers get all the money.

Anna Nicole Smith has to wait a little bit longer before she can rest in peace.

Richard Milstein, the court-appointed guardian of Smith's daughter, Dannielynn, and de facto custodian of Smith's remains, announced Saturday that, despite last week's announcement that the former Playmate's burial would happen as quickly as possible and the chief medical examiner's urge for her immediate interment, her funeral would not take place before Tuesday.

In a written statement, Milstein said he nevertheless was working hard on a timely burial and was already finalizing details of the memorial.

The reason for the delay is Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur.

On Thursday, Arthur seemed in harmony with Milstein, Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead during a joint appearance following a Florida judge's decision to have Milstein arrange the burial. The group announced they had agreed to bury Smith in the Bahamas next to her late son, Daniel. But Arthur reversed course soon after and filed a motion late Friday calling for an emergency order to stop the release of Smith's remains.

In her petition to block the body's transfer to the Bahamas, Arthur claimed that as the "natural mother and next of kin" to her late daughter, she, not Milstein, should have been "entitled to make the decision regarding where her child is buried."

I'm surprised that anyone thinks it shouldn't be the mother who decides: but then when this much money is at stake very few are going to be rational.


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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Some Go There On Holiday.. know.

However, being stuck there for 16 years does seem a little extreme:

A retired British soldier who said he was "falsely imprisoned" in Malaysia for 16 years after authorities seized his passport has won about $860,000 in damages, newspapers said Friday.

Ronald Beadle had sued Malaysia's tax office after it confiscated his passport in December 1981 to recover outstanding taxes, a move that barred him from leaving the country. The authorities finally stopped impounding his passport in 1998, though Beadle had settled in Malaysia and remained.

"His mind and self-esteem has been injured for more than 16 years," the Star newspaper quoted a High Court judge as saying when she ruled in favor of the 69-year-old from Derbyshire.

The judge said the tax office had acted arbitrarily and unreasonably in seizing the passport. But she did not think that Beadle had been "falsely imprisoned" as he had claimed.

I admit, I like the place but I do think that if I was stuck there for 16 years that I would demand compensation as well.


With the new law that every house sold must include  home information packs there is the problem of how as an independent estate agent you can compete against the larger chains with their much greater resources.

The solution is probably to sign up to this new service for home information packs where you work with your chosen conveyancer and are able to build the pack online. There's an SMS messaging system to keep you and your clients up to date on where each and every component is.

Perhaps best of all there's an option whereby the pack can be assembled at no upfront cost: that's got to be a benefit when competing with the larger chains who will be using their greater financial resources to do the same thing.

Well worth checking out.

Disclosure Policy.

Something for Kim Here

I think I've already seen it at Kim du Toit's site actually, not in the department of righteous shootings, but in applause mode certainly:

A group of U.S. tourists, including a former Marine, killed a Costa Rican mugger by breaking his neck after he pulled a gun on them in a Caribbean port, a local police official said on Thursday.

The cruise ship passengers told police they jumped on Wagner Segura, 20, to defend themselves when he pointed a .38 caliber revolver at them near the Caribbean port of Limon on Wednesday, and somehow snapped his neck, regional police director Luis Hernandez said.

Segura died instantly and two other unidentified thieves, one of whom was armed with a knife, fled the scene, Hernandez said.

"One of the tourists was a former Marine and he was probably the one who broke (Segura's) neck," Hernandez said. "His neck was completely snapped."

No charges were filed, it seems that the law there is more open to people defending themselves when attacked. I also rather liked the detail that they put the body on the tour bus and then went looking for a policeman to report the incident to.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mint Credit Cards

There's an interesting variation on credit cards that's been launched in the UK. The first is something I think is little more than a gimmick, a card with the bottom right hand corner cut away so as to make it obvious that it is something different.

It does have some useful other features as well, like 0% balance transfers and purchases until December, which would be very useful for keeping costs down over the coming year or so.

But where thy've really changed the game with credit cards is in their launch of what is in effect a pre-paid debit card. We're all familiar with the problem of what to buy people as gifts, and we often end up buying a gift voucher or two for people to spend at a specific store. What this debit card allows you to do is provide a gift that can be spent at any store, vastly increasing the range of things that can be bought with your gift.

I think that's an excellent innovation, one to be greatly welcomed. Click through the link to find out more.

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The Right To Be Cold

The Independent today has something of an odd story, someone "defending her people's right to exist":

If Nobel Peace Prizes could refreeze the polar ice caps, then Sheila Watt-Cloutier would be a very happy woman indeed because her people are, "defending the right to be cold".

As it is, the Canadian activist, who lives in a remote community up above the Arctic circle, is thrilled to have her name put forward as one of the 181 nominees for this year's accolade from the Nobel committee, because it can only advance the cause for which she has been fighting for the past 12 years - protecting the Inuit peoples whose lives are directly and most immediately threatened by the change in the world's climate and raising awareness about global warming. As she said recently: "It's been a long haul and a daunting task to get the message out. When you're 155,000 people at the top of the world, there aren't very many people who even know who you are or what you're facing."

The thing is, no one is threatening her people's right to exist. They are threatening their right to live as they do, but not the people themselves.

As for their right to continue to live as they do, yes, they do indeed have that, just as people in other countries have the right to heat themselves, cool themselves, cook food and use transport. What we need is a way of balancing these rights andthat's exactly what the $85 a tonne for CO2 emissions from the Stern Review does.

Credit Cards

There are those who decry the very existence of credit cards as they tempt people to spend money that they don't actually have. I have to admit that I'm not amongst that number. Credit cards actually allow people to smooth their consumption which is, in this world of variable incomes, an extremely valuable option for them.

It's also true that with the competition to actually hand out the cards the canny can borrow money without actually paying any interest: there are the 0% credit cards for example. It's also very easy to move money owed from one that is charging interest to one that is not, the so called 0% balance transfers. These options, plus the fact that if you pay off what is owed on time you pay nothing at all for the use of the money, either in fees or interest, makes me think that credit cards are a great idea.

In fact, the way in which even the poor are now able to get credit cards strikes me as being an improvement, not a problem. For, after all, it's the poor who need the most help in smoothing their consumption, isn't it?

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Behavioural Economics

An interesting little lesson in behavioural economics here:

People will not give money if they are thanked in advance or presented with an empty donation box, but will dig deep if they see banknotes, according to a study by New Zealand academics released on Wednesday.

The research by Victoria University of Wellington's economics department showed that how much is already in a donation box, the mix of coins and notes, and what sorts of signs are present will influence how generous the public will be.

The behavior of people faced with a clear donation box at the entrance to the city's art gallery was filmed by a hidden camera.

"The most important thing is to never leave the box empty," said senior lecturer John Randal.

"But it is also important to ensure there is a balance of notes and coins so that whether people want to make a large or small donation, that they feel it is appropriate to do so."

You've got to provide people with the correct impressions: No money means that no one else has given, coins only means that no one gives generously, no coins means that the Widow's Mite is not socially acceptable and a box stuffed with money means that lots has already been given.

People sure can be complicated, eh?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Mortgage Refinance

Ah, now, this is a subject I really do know about, Mortgage Refinance as I've just done it myself. Yes, really, I'm one of those people who two decades ago wsa struggling to pay a mortgage thourgh the interest rate rises and boy, am I glad that I did. It meant that recently, when we wanted to get a second place we didn't have to go through the pain and grief of getting a mortgage on the new one. Lucky, as we wanted to buy a ruin to improve and it's very tough to get a mortgage on something that can't be lived in. So we were able to do a mortgage refinance , put the money into our bank account and then go looking. Being able to make a quick purchase also helped us get a very good price too.

If you'd like to see what might be possible for you then have a look at this mortgage calculator to see if this might be the correct thing for you to do.

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Not News But Olds

Really, come along, this is old style stuff. It doesn't matter whether it's diet or exercise, it's simply the gap between calories consumed and calories used.

A new study debunks the widely held belief that diet plus exercise is the most effective way to lose weight. Researchers report that dieting alone is just as effective as dieting plus exercise.

"For weight loss to occur, an individual needs to maintain a difference between the number of calories they consume everyday and the number of calories they burn through metabolism and physical activity," Dr. Leanne Redman of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, explains in a press release.

"What we found was that it did not matter whether a reduction in calories was achieved through diet or burned everyday through exercise."

Thirty-five overweight but otherwise healthy adults -- 16 men and 19 women -- completed the 6-month study. Twelve were assigned to a diet-only group; they reduced their calorie intake by 25 percent. Twelve were assigned to diet plus exercise; they reduced their calorie intake by 12.5 percent and increased their exercise by 12.5 percent. The remaining 11 subjects made no significant diet or exercise changes.

So why is this being reported as news?


Anyone like me who uses a computer to make their daily living and yet who doesn't back it up regularly is being a fool. Seriously, it's one of the most stupid things you can do: use a temperamental, buggy, likely to fall over machine and not make sure that your data is safely stored.

There are so many stories of manuscripts for novels residing on defunct hard drives, reports that had to be in yesterday that are fried by a motherboard going up, or a power surge.

There are a number of ways of dealing with this but the one that seems simplest to me is IBackup - Online Backup and Storage. Yes, you can play around with software and back up your files manually, yes, you can play interesting games with Gmail and other things, but really, who has time to do all of those things?

Why not simply pay the minimal sum necessary to have all of this done for you automatically? Get signed up to the IBackup - Online Backup and Storage system and it's all done automatically for you overnight while you're asleep but your broadband connection is still on.

There are other benefits too: instead of having to search for your files amongst your backup media you can review them remotely from any computer via a simple browser or as a mapped drive on your own computer.

Yes, there are free services out there but really. For this cost it's not even worth taking the time to go and search for them. It just seems such a simple decision to me, making sure that all of your work is safe and sound, both backed up properly and also stored offsite.

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Tatiana Karpov

Yes, an interesting story, but....


A Murmansk gambler lost his wife in a poker game when he ran out of cash and laid his other half on the table, Ananova reports.

Unfortunately for Andrei Karpov, when winning opponent Sergey Brodov arrived to claim his prize, his wife Tatiana was "so angry" she opted for a divorce.

Well, OK, but what next?

She thundered: "It was humiliating and I was utterly ashamed. But as soon as my ex-husband did that I knew I had to leave him."

In a heartwarming twist which disproves once-and-for-all the old "lucky at cards, unlucky at love" proverb, Tatiana started a relationship with Brodov and subsequently married him.

She enthused: "Sergey was a very handsome, charming man and I am very happy with him, even if he did 'win' me in a poker game."

What happens when your new husband goes off to play cards?

Crimes and Times

As is noted over here, if you can't do the time, don't do the crime:


A total of 38 months jail time was handed down on Wednesday to employees and clients of a London private detective agency which illegally hacked into telephone lines.

Eight people connected with the agency, which cannot be named for legal reasons, variously admitted charges of conspiring to intercept communications unlawfully, making unauthorised modifications to a computer, false accounting, and criminal damage to BT property.

I wonder, were these the same people helping out all of those newspaper reporters?

Wank Week Pulled

Yes, Channel 4 has pulled (sorry) it's masturbatothon:


Aficionados of the kind of quality programming for which Channel 4 is rightly reknowned will be disappointed to learn it has pulled its planned "wank week" - a series of three late-night programmes dedicated to bashing the bishop and petting the beaver.

The short season was set to feature the London "Masturbate-a-thon" event, originally conceived in San Francisco as a way of undermining the very basis of US society through mass onanistic excess.

The loss of wood on Channel 4's part seems to be "a bid to avoid further controversy in the aftermath of the Celebrity Big Brother racism row", as The Guardian explains.

The thing is, by having their regular programming, will they increase or decrease the number of wankers being shown?

New Scams

A little warning of one of the newer scams out there:


Crooks running email lottery scams are exploiting 070 personal numbers in a bid to trick users into thinking they are dealing with people in the UK.

Lottery scams, a low-rent variant of advanced fee frauds made notorious by Nigerian email fraudsters, typically promise a recipient is in line to receive a large cash prize, in a bid to either trick people into disclosing private bank details or handing over fees to secure non-existent rewards. The latest scam emails, detected by net security firm Sophos, contain a contact phone number.

British 070 numbers are the second most commonly used telephone numbers in these scams, behind US-based telephone numbers. These 070 numbers appear like mobile phone numbers but are easily redirected to any number anywhere in the world. In addition, 070 numbers can be acquired for free, as higher charges are paid by the caller to use them.

I've heard of people trying to get charges of $5,000 a minute in these things. Be careful!

Jack Black

Have to admit, I don't know what it is that people see in Jack Black:


Amp'd Mobile has announced development deals with actor/musician Jack Black, "24" executive producer Howard Gordon and others to produce original content for the mobile entertainment carrier in 2007.

"Today's youth, who represent the next generation of wireless customers, are increasingly expecting a higher level of entertainment from their devices," said Seth Cummings, senior vp content development and programming at Amp'd Mobile. "When we started Amp'd, we envisioned building the next-generation HBO."

Black ("Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny"), with producing partners Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, will develop a series of comedy shorts this year for Amp'd Mobile based on their "Channel 101" events, monthly screenings of amateur shorts in Los Angeles where the audience chooses the top productions. In the mobile version, the audience also will decide which shows are canceled and which will return.

Corporate speak and Jack Black? One product to miss for me I think.

Pirates of the Caribbean

As if the films, videos, DVDs, ads, chat shows won't be enough, there«s now a free computer game as well:


Disney Online will offer the legions of fans who have flocked to see Captain Jack Sparrow in movie theaters a chance to star in an original video game adventure for free with "Pirates of the Caribbean Online."

The massively multiplayer online game, slated to launch in the spring in conjunction with the May 25 theatrical release of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," will bypass retail and be available via a free download at

The game takes place in an alternate universe, with a new story arc that introduces Jolly Roger as a nemesis. Players must help Sparrow get his crew back together to find the Black Pearl and restore order. The story line will span hundreds of hours of gameplay, and Disney Online will launch free expansions for the game every two to three months.

Sorry, I'm sticking to blogging.

Water Intoxication

How can anyone be quite this dim?


Jennifer Strange, 28, died after drinking more than six and a half litres of bottled water at KDND 107.9 last Friday in a bid to win a Nintendo Wii for her three children.

Sheriff John McGinness said: "It's not as if she was somehow in their custody and they had a role to care for her. Rather, it was an invitation to a contest that was clearly ill-advised. She was exercising her free will."

The District Attorney's office said they had not received the case for review. Spokeswoman Lana Wyant said: "There are times we initiate investigations on our own. I'm not sure this would be one of them." On Tuesday, Radio station bosses in Sacramento fired the 10-strong team responsible for the competition, The Sacramento Bee reports.

The local newspaper has obtained a recording of the now defunct "Morning Rave" show. Excerpts are available here.

Before the contest starts, one of the co-hosts can be heard saying "maybe we should have researched this". Discussing the dangers of water intoxication, another said: "Can't you get water poisoning and, like, die?"

Another staff member responded: "Your body is 98 per cent water. Why can't you take in as much water as you want?"

OK, that contest is stupid enough but:

Later, after dropping out as runner-up with headaches, in a confused conversation with an intern, Strange said: "They keep telling me though that it's the water, that it will tell my head to hurt and then it will make me puke."

She seemed keen to continue, telling staff: "I could probably drink more if you guys could pick me up. Do you want me to? What can I get?"

They were told and still they carried on!

Technological Morons

You do wonder sometimes about the brains of our compatriots north of the border.


Police investigating an incident last December in which 15 to 20 youths trashed a Edinburgh Burger King were given an unexpected helping hand when readers of a local paper tracked down footage of the outrage on YouTube.

According to the Evening News, one of the gang used his mobile phone to film his pals "hurling chairs and exchanging punches as terrified staff cowered behind the counter". The miscreants fled before police could intervene, but the cameraman later rather brilliantly posted a one minute, 30 second clip of the carnage on YouTube.

How can anyone wbe bright enough to master the technology but dim enough to then post the video? Is it the neeps or the deep fried mars bars?

No Shit Sherlock

Wow! Did you know that teen exposure to pornography is common?


About four in every 10 U.S. youngsters age 10 to 17 report they've seen pornography while on the Internet, two-thirds of them saying it was uninvited, according to a study published on Monday.

Many of the encounters with online pornography, both sought-out and accidental, were related to use of file-sharing programs to download images, the report from the University of New Hampshire in Durham said.

"Although there is evidence that most youth are not particularly upset when they encounter unwanted pornography on the Internet (it) could have a greater impact on some youth than voluntary encounters with pornography," the study said.

"Some youth may be psychologically and developmentally unprepared for unwanted exposure, and online images may be more graphic and extreme than pornography available from other sources," it added.

The report, published in the February issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, was based on a telephone survey made of a representative sample of 1,500 U.S. youngsters from March to June, 2005

What next: water believed to be wet?

Internicine Industry

The computer industry cross licences patents to so many people again and again that these sorts of things are almost inevitable. Someone gets in  a huff and then they're banned from selling something:


It looks like Novell could be banned from selling Linux:

The Free Software Foundation is reviewing Novell Inc.'s (NOVL.O: QuoteProfile , Research) right to sell new versions of Linux operating system software after the open-source community criticized Novell for teaming up with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O: QuoteProfile , Research)

"The community of people wants to do anything they can to interfere with this deal and all deals like it. They have every reason to be deeply concerned that this is the beginning of a significant patent aggression by Microsoft," Eben Moglen, the Foundation's general counsel, said on Friday.

The foundation controls intellectual property rights to key parts of the open-source Linux operating system.

The thing is, Microsoft is vastly more important to Novell than Linux is. And even if they were banned from selling it, it's not all that tough to strike a deal with a small company that would supply it to Novell's customers.

Simple enough problem to solve though, just tie up with someone who is allowed to sell it.

More Harry Potter:

So, does Harry Potter die in the last book of the series?


Harry Potter's days may be numbered.
J.K. Rowling, author of the popular fantasy series about the boy wizard and his battle with the evil Lord Voldemort, announced Thursday that the final book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," will be released on July 21.
And Rowling has a more ominous warning: two main characters will die before the series ends.
But James Krasner, a professor of British literature at the University of New Hampshire, believes Harry will ultimately live to tell another tale.
Because "good has to win."
"Certain art forms are meant to fulfill expectations, to give gratification," Krasner said. "If you read a romance novel and the lovers don't get together in the end, you're not interested."
Krasner said Rowling's threat to kill off at least two main characters in the final book is a way of "taking control" of her creations. It's not uncommon for authors whose characters have become wildly popular to engage in a tug-of-war with readers over who the characters belong to, he said

Relying upon the theory of how stories are "supposed" to work seems a little weak to me.

OJ and the Money

This is begining to look vindictive now rather than justice:


Attorneys for the father of murder victim Ron Goldman subpoenaed several Hollywood industry groups on Monday, seeking money O.J. Simpson was paid for TV appearances and work in such movies as "Naked Gun 33 and 1/3" and "The Towering Inferno."

Lawyers for Fred Goldman believe that Simpson has diverted the residual payments to avoid a $33.5 million judgment won in 1997 by the families of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

"We're going to burrow to the center of the earth to find Simpson's assets," Goldman lawyer David Cook said. "These subpoenas today seek to uncover and unearth Simpson's catalog or portfolio of movie residuals."

The former football star turned actor and TV pitchman was acquitted of the June 12, 1994, murders but a civil court jury found him liable for their deaths and ordered him to pay the $33.5 million in damages.

Simpson has paid little of that judgment but in recent months lawyers for Goldman have aggressively pursued his film and TV earnings as well as a reported $1 million advance he was paid for an aborted book about the murders, "If I Did It."

The subpoenas demand records kept by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the Producers Guild of America and the American Federation of Television Radio Artists (AFTRA), which Goldman's lawyers believe will show how much Simpson has been paid and where the money has gone.

I was always highly dubious about that civil case anyway.

Molly Ivins

Much as I disagreed with her politics, even her worldview, have to be sad at the passing of Molly Ivins. She could certainly turn a mean phrase (even if some of them were borrowed, like very other writer does):


Among the people who mourn the death of best-selling author and columnist Molly Ivins, George Bush, whom Ivins referred to as “Shrub,” expressed his admiration towards her as well as his sadness for the loss, in a statement released after her death Wednesday evening.

"Molly Ivins was a Texas original. She was loved by her readers and by her many friends, particularly in Central Texas.

"I respected her convictions, her passionate belief in the power of words, and her ability to turn a phrase. She fought her illness with that same passion. Her quick wit and commitment to her beliefs will be missed. Laura and I send our condolences to Molly Ivins' family and friends," Bush said.

Molly Ivins, 62, who made her living by poking fun at politicians, whether they were in her home state of Texas or the White House, passed away on Wednesday at her Austin home while in hospice care, after a long battle with breast cancer. Ivins revealed she was being treated for the disease the third time in early 2006.


Marianne Faithful

Isn't this something of a turn up for the books? What next? In the sequel she takes care of Wayne Rooney?


Singer and actress Marianne Faithfull plays a grandmother in dire straights who becomes a sex worker in London's seedy Soho, in a touching yet hilarious movie that has lit up a hitherto subdued Berlin film festival.

"Irina Palm" follows Maggie, played by Faithfull, from the side of her sick grandson's hospital bed to a sex shop where, desperate to pay for the boy's medical treatment abroad, she accepts a job where her smooth-skinned hands are a key asset.

Taught by a younger woman, she learns to service clients who stand on the other side of a wall with a hole in it where they can be heard but not seen.

So legendary is her technique that queues of customers begin to form, a rival club seeks to poach her.

Much of the comedy derives from the horror etched on Faithfull's face as she goes to work, and the reaction of her straight-laced circle of friends when they discover what Maggie has been up to during the day.

Actually, scratch that sequel, don't even want to think about it.

Tara Connor and Cocaine

Really, what is the world coming to ?


Kentucky's own Miss USA, Tara Conner from Russell Springs, told Today Show host Matt Lauer in a live interview Thursday that "distorted thinking" made her deny that she was an alcoholic.

"It wasn't actually me thinking," she said.

Conner said she was 19 or 20 when she tried cocaine for the first time.

She alluded to abuse in her past but provided no specifics despite persistent questioning from Lauer. She also denied having a sexual addiction.

Conner, who nearly lost her crown after reports of late-night partying in New York City, was granted a second chance in December. At a press conference, she was contrite but denied that she was an alcoholic.

Sorry, but if beauty queens can't drink champagne, snort coke and sleep around a bit, really, what is the point of them?

Sharon Stone: The End of a Career?

You know how all the MAWs start out doing art house films? A very few of them go on to become stars of course: but what happens when a star starts doing the art house films?


Sharon Stone says she found her role as a depressed and taciturn woman in her latest film strangely uplifting, as it challenged what she called "Prozac society".

"When a Man Falls in the Forest" is in competition at the Berlin Film Festival, where it was screened on Monday, and brings the Hollywood star together with art house director Ryan Eslinger making only his second movie.

The surreal low-budget picture about three dysfunctional characters has little plot but raises fundamental questions about existence, relationships and guilt.

Worse, when they start doing bad art house movies? The end of a career?

Renee Zellweger

Has obviously got bored talking abouther weight:


Ask actress Renee Zellweger about her weight and she yawns.

"Boring," she says, when asked to talk about her body.

Zellweger, a Texan renown for piling on the pounds to take the lead role in "Bridget Jones's Diary" and sequel "The Edge of Reason," is playing another British woman in "Miss Potter," based on the life of children's writer Beatrix Potter.

Oscar-winner Zellweger, 37, recently told Reuters why she likes to play Brits -- and what she thinks about the column inches the media devotes to her body:

Q: You surprised critics with your accent and performance playing London singleton Bridget Jones and now you are playing Beatrix Potter. Why are people so fascinated by how well you adopt an English accent?

A: "I don't understand it, it is just work. It is part of the process. You concentrate in a different way, I have learned, because I kept trying to do that in this last piece that I did where I play a contemporary character and I would catch myself listening to how I was forming words. Anyway, I work with Barbara Berkery (dialogue coach) and she teaches me what to do and she stands by me and she corrects me."

Can't say I'm all that surprised.She can in fact act as well as eat and diet.

CBB's Shilpa

To absolutely no one's surprise, Shilpa Shetty is set to make a fortune out of winning CBB:


Shilpa Shetty, who was virtually unknown in Britain until a month ago, has suddenly become a phenomenon in this country.
The Big Brother winner is set to make millions of pounds from the show, and if her aides are to be believed the stunning star - who kept her dignity intact even while she suffered racist bullying at the hands of some of her fellow contestants, is in line to rake in an astonishing 10 million pounds.
The controversy that triggered protests in India and sparked a race relations debate in the UK - has propelled 31-year-old Shetty onto the world stage, and her business managers are said to be busy working tirelessly to turn this profile into profit.
Shetty's aides in Britain and India have already been inundated with six figure offers for book deals, TV work, film parts, endorsements and a chance to co-host the UK version of a reality cricket show based on the 'Indian Idol,' and rumours are also high that the actress is to be offered a lead role in a new BBC comedy, set in an Indian call centre.

350 big ones just for going on the show in the first place, wasn't it?


I rather like this misanthropic look at Coldplay. Of course, I should, I wrote part of it.

The singer, pianist and frontman is Chris Martin, married to Gwyneth Paltrow and father of the absurdly named Apple. What a name to give a child, eh?
The band has a new album out, X&Y, which is a reasonably pathetic title. What, you mean that they are the first people in all history to think that both male and female have a part to play in life? Have they never heard of Yin and Yang? How on earth do they think they got here themselves if there was not some form of co-operation between the two sexes?
Obviously macrobiotic diets cause a loss of intelligence.
The official Coldplay site is
here, a fan site is here.
There is also a subset of the MTV site dedicated to
Coldplay and something from Rolling Stone here.
Quite the best description of the band is
here, at the Telegraph.
As a measure of the menace that Coldplay represents to the listening public consider a poignant letter published in The Daily Telegraph last week: "They ruined what my wife and I had hoped would be a convivial evening at a riverside pub," fumed Graham Vine, of Close Borden, Hampshire. "On arriving we wondered why so many customers were sitting outside on such a chilly, breezy evening. It didn't take long to find out why. Whoever had charge of the pub's sound system inflicted upon us one dismal dirge after another from the Coldplay album, one of the most depressing I have heard."

They've not got any better, have they?

Tomi Rae

Is she James Brown's widowor nott? Who knows?


Tomi Rae Hynie is takin' it to the man. Or to the man's estate, at least. 

James Brown's longtime partner sued Thursday for half of the late singer's estate, maintaining that she was married to Brown at the time of his death and that she's entitled to a portion of his assets despite the fact that the Godfather of Soul didn't provide for her in his will. 

"I have a long hard battle to fight for my husband's rights, for my rights and for my son's rights that have been completely violated during this time," Hynie told the Associated Press. "I am his wife. It's my home." 

Brown's attorneys have maintained that his marriage to Hynie—they swapped vows in 2001—was never legal because she was married to someone else at the time, a union that was eventually annulled. Hynie and Brown never made things official after the annulment, however, the lawyers say.

The thing is though, this fight over the money. It would be vastly cheaper to cut a deal than to have the lawyers swallowing the whole estate.

Making Up Names

Can be a problem if you don't go through the routine of checking who else already uses that name:


A London-based record producer launched his bid on Thursday to force U.S. rapper and hip-hop music producer Sean "Diddy" Combs to change his alias or stop using the hugely popular MySpace and YouTube Internet sites.

Richard "Diddy" Dearlove says that Combs has breached an earlier undertaking not to use the name "Diddy" in Britain, because people there can see Combs' pages on the international MySpace and YouTube sites were he appears as "Diddy."

"We want him either to use a neutral name like P. Diddy or to shut them down," said Iain Purvis, Dearlove's lawyer at the High Court in London where the case is being heard.

Both Internet sites have become key marketing platforms for international artists, and Combs' site on showed that his profile had been visited nearly 10 million times.

Tsk, should have checked, should have checked.

Paula Abdul

I've never really understood her success: voice like someone on helium and OK, she ould dance, but then so can most cheerleaders.


In the annals of mean things the “American Idol” judges have done over the years, two incidents from this year’s Los Angeles auditions are sure to make the highlights. Simon, Randy, Paula and guest judge Olivia Newton-John first made a decision that earned the wrath of frustrated parents everywhere, and then the judges tried to break up a happy couple for no good reason. It’s like they’re aggressively trying to be the anti-role models.

Los Angeles is filled with young people dreaming of a career in show business, in the process crushing mom and dad’s dreams of a child with a college education, a steady paycheck and something resembling a future. Alaina Alexander was one of those hopefuls, but said she had come to the conclusion at age 24 that being a struggling performer in Los Angeles is not very much fun. She planned to quit and go back to school.

Then “Idol” came around, and she decided to give the dream one more shot.  She made the most of the last chance, and got Simon’s vote right away, but Randy hesitated because of the pitch problems and Paula was noncommittal. Alexander reacted simply: “I’m close to quitting, so it’s up to you guys to let me know what my destiny is.”

Still that's not going to help what's left of it, is it?

Kate n' Pete

Via this blog I see that not everyone thinks they're the most star struck of couples:


Kate Moss and Pete Doherty have a fairytale romance going, or at least they would if there was a fairytale called The Dirty-Looking Bell-End, The Skinny Princess And The Pile Of Drugs Bigger Than A Double Decker Bus - which we're not entirely sure that there is.

Anyway, the news here is that Kate Moss has probably dumped Pete Doherty over his continued drug problem after pictures of him apparently shooting up cocaine were published in several newspapers. Now, the world's most famous supermodel splitting up with her long-term partner over something as illegal and dangerous as a drug addiction would undoubtedly be huge news, if not for the fact that Kate Moss and Pete Doherty appear to be contractually obliged to break up with one another at least once every 15 milliseconds.

The saga of Kate Moss and Pete Doherty is so long and knotty that we can barely bring ourselves to think about it, let alone write about it. But today is different because a) it was either this or an article about Janet Street-Porter pretending to be a nurse and b) Kate Moss and Pete Doherty have totally split up forever, and it's all because - shock horror - Pete Doherty took some drugs.

Rock star takes drugs. Not really a headline any more, is it?

Anna Nicole Smith

Just in case you haven't had enough information about Anna Nicole Smith here's a handy cut out n' keep listing of the main facts:


* Smith had been ordered to have her five-month-old baby undergo a paternity test as part of a lawsuit by an ex-boyfriend, his attorney said. Larry Birkhead sued Smith in October, demanding she have the paternity test because he believed he was the father of the baby girl she gave birth to in the Bahamas on September 7.

* Smith's 20-year-old son, Daniel, died in the Bahamas three days after the birth of her daughter. A pathologist hired by the model said he apparently died from a drug overdose.

* Smith was Playboy's Playmate of the Year in 1993. In 1994, she married 89-year-old oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall after meeting him at a strip club.

* Marshall's death 14 months later set off a legal battle over his estate between Smith and her husband's son, E. Pierce Marshall, who died in June.

* In May, Anna Nicole won a U.S. Supreme Court decision in the suit giving her another chance to collect millions of dollars.

* She starred in a short-lived cable television reality series, "The Anna Nicole Show," from 2002 to 2004.

Art Buchwald

I know Art Buchwald's dead but at least, via this blog, there's a few of his good lines:


* "A bad liver is to a Frenchman what a nervous breakdown is to an American. Everyone has had one and everyone wants to talk about it."

* "If you attack the establishment long enough and hard enough, they will make you a member of it."

* "It was a dangerous profession I had chosen ... because no one likes a funny kid. In fact, adults are scared silly of them and tend to warn children who act out that they are going to wind up in prison or worse. It is only when you grow up that they pay you vast sums of money to make them laugh."

* "I just don't want to die the same day Castro dies."

I actually learnt all I know (which isn't a lot) about Watergate from reading his comic essays on hte subject.

The Next (and last) Harry Potter

Not too much of a surprise that even though it won't be out for months yet this Harry Potter book is at the top of the sales listings already: Inc. said on Friday first-day advance orders for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the seventh and last installment of J.K. Rowling's successful book series, were 547 percent higher than for its predecessor.

Thursday's pre-orders for "Deathly Hallows" exceeded the first two weeks of pre-orders for its predecessor, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," Seattle-based Amazon said. "Half-Blood Prince," released in July 2005, generated more than 1.5 million pre-orders on Amazon, the online retailer said.

I think she will be the first person to make a $ billion from her writing.

Joss Stone Album

I'm not sure I get this news:


When she made her debut several years back at only 15, Brit belter Joss Stone was an instant wow, a young girl mining soul's past with a voice beyond her years.

Now 19, with a stunning new album, "Introducing Joss Stone," due in March, she's proving to be the true heiress to Aretha Franklin as this generation's queen of soul. Her sold-out show Wednesday at the Sunset Strip House of Blues not only drummed up interest in the upcoming release, it announced that she most definitely has arrived as a superstar.

After an intro instrumental from her soul revue-style band, led by producer Raphael Saadiq, that included horns and backing singers, a new Stone took the stage. This wasn't the blond girl next door of past years; she sported a whole new look of long, permed magenta hair and wore a tight gold and silver minidress. She was instantly captivating

Hasn't this been out in hte UK for a couple of years already? Why's the US so far behind?

Night at the Museum

I don't think this is going to work out, honestly, I don't:


Some of Britain's biggest cinema chains have pulled hit comedy "Night at the Museum" from their screens in protest against Hollywood studio Twentieth Century Fox's plans to rush out the DVD version.

The move is the latest in a tussle between film theatres and studios over the shrinking time gap between the cinema and DVD release, which theatres fear will discourage the public from paying at the box office.

According to specialist film publications, the UK decision follows a similar standoff last week in Germany, where leading cinema chains forced Fox into concessions over the DVD release of "Eragon" by pulling other movies made by the studio, including "Museum," whose box office receipts plummeted as a result.

"As of today (Friday) we are no longer going to be showing the film on our screens," said a spokeswoman for Odeon, Britain's largest cinema chain with more than 840 screens.

Simoultaneous release is going to happen anyway. The only way the cinemas can make it work is if they make it more attractive to see it on hte big screen than not.

Bring Back Annie Hall

Via this blog I see no reason to change my opinion that the last decent movie Dianne Keaton did was Annie Hall.


Like the architectural-wonder cakes Diane Keaton's character constructs in "Because I Said So," the film is a stylishly gooey piece of work that demands to be oohed and aahed over.

With its magazine-spread interiors and pretty dresses, this romantic comedy about a meddling mom and her unlucky-in-love youngest daughter might get what it wants. Using a recipe overloaded with adorable, too reliant on slapstick and spiced up with "modern" ideas about sex, the movie is as predictable as a crowd-pleaser can get. But crowds are likely to be pleased nonetheless, especially women who connect with its pat observations about the mother-daughter bond.

It's dispiriting to see a great actress like Keaton buying into this nonsense with such gusto. Still, as Daphne, the control-freak cake entrepreneur nearing her 60th birthday, she's the closest thing to a three-dimensional person in the film. Mandy Moore is an appealing performer, but ultimately she can't turn Milly, the object of Daphne's pathological concern, into more than a collection of comely pouts and tantrums.

Nah, maybe she should start bonking Woody Allen again, see if she can get her muse back.

Ooops! Borat and Rupert.

Via this blog I see that Rupert Murdoch got a little ahead of himself:


Before Borat fans start giving each other high fives, 20th Century Fox wants to make clear that the boorish Kazakh journalist is not headed back to the big screen just yet.

Hours after News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch told reporters on Thursday that British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen had signed a deal to make a sequel to his hit movie "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," a studio spokesman said the idea was merely under consideration.

"We're eager to work with Sacha again, and we've had casual discussions about a sequel, which we'd love to do, but at this point, it remains too preliminary to discuss," said Chris Petrikin, a spokesman for News Corp.-owned 20th Century Fox.

"Borat," a faux documentary starring Cohen as a cluelessly offensive Central Asian journalist on a road trip across America, was a surprise box-office sensation last year, grossing $248 million worldwide.

It earned an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay, and Cohen a Golden Globe for his performance as the wild-eyed Kazakh TV personality in a rumpled suit spouting catch phrases like "high five" and "sexy time!"

Box-office success and awards to match virtually guarantee a sequel in Hollywood, and earlier on Thursday, Murdoch said the comedian had already signed a deal to make a "Borat 2."


You would think Rupert would know by now: make sure the contract's signed first.

Second Life and Lesbians

I'm not really sure that I've understood what Second Life is about, nor why it's so popular. But if it's become so enough that Microsoft has started advertising in a lesbian bar there, perhaps I should?


Microsoft hand-picked 10 Sadville destinations to show off Vista via a virtual press conference that included visits from top executives Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. The venues range from marketing firm displays to steamy man-tamer bars inhabited by avatars with moral and cartoonal flexibility.

Kitten Lulu, an esteemed Register reader and Second Life inhabitant, summed up the locations for us.

  • Strawberry Estate, not sure what it is. There isn’t much there apart from an atomium-like structure
  • Parioli, a PG Italian sim by Virtual Italian Parks
  • Sanctuary Rock, dance and music club dedicated to good rock music
  • Elements @ Goddess Of Love 3, one of the leading SecondLife dance and night clubs
  • Crayonville Island, a marketing company’s sim
  • Isle of Lesbos, the name says it all: an entire sim dedicated to (virtual or real) women who love women (i.e. Second Life’s lesbians)
  • Mermaids Gentlemans Club
  • ShowGirls Gentlemen’s Club
  • Liquid Dreams, in their own words: “The Premier Adult Experience - The newest Adult Club in Industry Offering Escorts, Dancers, Sex Roms, Skyboxes and More!”
  • Irie Vibes Club, reggae roots dance hall

LuLu's take on the tawdry collection? "I guess they want to convey the idea that Windows Vista is sexy . . . but not free." but not free? Perhaps they should be advertising in brothels then?

Big Macs and iPods

We're all familiar with the use of the Big Mac as a method of measuring purchasing power parity so now someone's started one based on iPods.


Having already stormed world fashion, Apple's hip iPod music player is finally making its presence felt in global currency markets.

One of Australia's biggest banks, the Commonwealth Bank (CBA.AX: QuoteProfile , Research), has used the latest version of Apple's (APPL.O: QuoteProfile , Research) music player -- the slimline Nano -- to compare global currencies and purchasing power in 26 countries.

Along the lines of the Big Mac index launched 20 years ago by The Economist magazine, the survey prices the 2GB Nano in U.S. dollars and found Brazilians pay the most for an iPod, shelling out $327.71, well above second-placed India at $222.27.

Canada was the cheapest place to buy a Nano at $144.20, while Australia ranked 19th at $172.36, cheaper than Germany ($192.46), France ($205.80), South Korea ($176.17) and China where the machine is manufactured. The U.S. was fourth cheapest at $149.

"Interestingly, especially with freight costs close to zero, China is middle ranked in terms of global prices at US$179.84," Craig James, the Chief Equities Economist at Commonwealth Bank, told Reuters.

Purchasing power parity surveys compare the prices of goods in different countries and at their simplest level can help show whether one currency is undervalued against another.

Unfortunately, all this one tells us is the PPP of the retail sectors in each country, much less useful.

Spam and the SuperBowl

My, my, it seems that nothing is sacred. Spammers will even try to interrupt that orgy of bad gamesmanship that is the Superbowl:

Hackers targeted Superbowl-related websites last week in attempt to direct American football fans to sites hosting malware.

Sites related to the Miami venue of the NFL Championship game - and - were among a number of sites hacked into and modified to insert reference to a hostile script running on Chinese site The NFL's website was not affected by the attack.

I doubt that anything they managed to do was as awful as actually having to sit through that five hours it takes to play 60 minutes of the game.

EU Domains

Some like 'em, some don't: the EU domains that is:


A large majority of British businesses with a .eu domain name believe it to be an effective business tool in a recent survey, while a separate survey found that half of UK businesses do not even know what the .eu domain stands for.

The surveys were both carried out by domain registration and hosting company 1&1 Internet, and found that business sentiment for .eu addresses across Europe was surprisingly positive.


The research, though, suggests that the businesses which have adopted European addresses have found it a useful experience. It found that 68 per cent of UK businesses which use a .eu domain thought it was effective, while half of users said that the domain enhanced their business's image. Around 43 per cent said it increased accessibility to vital European markets.

French companies were the most enthusiastic about the addresses, with 88 per cent of them willing to recommend using an address, 75 per cent believing them to be effective and 72 per cent saying that it enhanced their image.

I have to admit I really don't see how a .eu increases your access to european markets. Does a .com increase it to the US?

More Windows Vista

Why on earth would Microsoft spend $500 million on launching Vista?


Microsoft's $500m Windows Vista launch on Monday was the culmination of months of heavy sell intended to persuade the company, as much as everyone else, that not only is the operating systems is essential to users' computing needs, but also that it will translate into sales gold.

If bullishness were revenue, Microsoft is well on its way to a bumper fiscal 2007 and 2008. Windows Vista is supposed to out-ship Microsoft's last client - Windows XP. And Windows Vista will break all records bar Windows 95, by hitting 200 million PCs a mere 24 months after this month's launch, according to Microsoft.

It'll be on every new PC in the world anyway and none of the old ones will be able to run it anyway. Why waste the money? 

No, No, You Have to be a Famous Pecker

It's no good just being a pecker full stop, you have to be famous as well:


Only famous people who trade on their name have any chance of winning control of internet addresses containing their name, according to a decision by the World Intellectual Property Center (WIPO).

Publishing executive David Pecker lost the right to gain control of in a case judged by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center. It found that Pecker failed to demonstrate that he had rights to the name other than "broad assertions".


In order to gain control of a domain a person or company has to prove three things. They have to show that the domain is the same or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the person has rights; that the other party has no legitimate interests or rights in the domain, and that it was registered or is being used 'in bad faith'.

In order to gain control of a domain you must fulfil all three conditions, so if the Panel finds one step which you fail it rarely considers the other two.

The Panel found that Pecker could not show that he had a trade mark or service mark right in the name David Pecker, so could not gain control of the domain. Other Panels had found in the cases of famous people that being famous, and therefore trading under your name, did sometimes qualify for that step.

So Woody Harrelson might have a case but not Dave Woodie the garbage man.

Markets and Bureaucracies

Another lovely little tale from this blog to add to the ongoing debate about markets and bureaucracies.


As doubts grow over the approval of San Francisco's proposed deal to build a citywide wireless network with EarthLink, critics of the effort are putting forth alternatives. Like the current plan, negotiated behind closed doors between Mayor Gavin Newsom and the ISP, none of them are anywhere near perfect.

The current plan, which faces an uncertain fate in the Board of Supervisors, would allow EarthLink to own the WiFi network and, though an arrangement with Google, offer a paltry 300 kbps for free and a moderately more tolerable 1Mbps for $22 per month.

We seem to see this again and again, don't we? That of course the planners, those not motivated by profit, driven only by their care and concern for the user: of course they build a better system faster than those bastards just looking to make money.

Amazing how it never turns out that way, isn't it?

About Apple

A great little list at this blog: the five worst things about Apple.


1. The 'reality distortion field'

The infamous 'reality distortion field' refers to Steve Jobs' ability to work onlookers into a frenzy of excitement over the most ordinary of products. Jobs' usual line, that no one does it better than Apple, is all-pervasive in its marketing.

2. The iPod

The best selling MP3 player has taken on iconic status ever since it was first launched in 2001 and today dominates the market, easily seeing off the latest challenge from the Microsoft Zune with a record-breaking quarter of sales.

But the device has long been dogged by accusations of dodgy battery life, defective mechanics, easily scratched or cracked screens and a general lack of longevity. Most of the editorial team have got through at least one iPod each.

3. Style over substance

The translucent Bondi Blue iMac initiated Apple's much-trumpeted departure from the Beige Brigade and a return to good times for the struggling company. The criticisms of style over substance and form over function have followed the company ever since.

Go there to see the rest.

The 9 Billion Spams

Didn't Arthur C Clarke have a story, the 9 billion names of God? That's the only reason I can think of why this number resonates:


A Dutch spammer who used compromised PCs to spamvertise web sites has been fined €75,000 ($97,000) by Opta, the Netherlands telecoms regulator

The man - named only as Mr X - used 600-700 compromised PCs to send about nine billion spam messages promoting penis pills, pornographic websites and other assorted tat. X's 14-month junk mail campaign reportedly earned him an estimated € 40,000 before he was collared in November 2005.

However, he didn't stop because he got caught, no, markets took care of him before the law:

Opta said Microsoft has assisted in its investigation. In mitigation, X argued that he had stopped spamming by the time he was arrested - not because he realised his activities were wrong, but because he "simply wasn't earning enough money".

Isn't that a nice liitle proof again of the contention that markets curb behaviour rather better than the law or regulation?

Interactive Mirrors?

Now this doesn't look like a good idea for shopophobic men like me:

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, does this outfit make me look good, bad, fat or tall?

A New York-based designer has come up with a mirror equipped with infrared technology that sends a live video feed to any cell phone, e-mail account or personal digital assistant device selected by a shopper.

Christopher Enright, chief technology officer for digital design company IconNicholson, said putting these mirrors outside store fitting rooms meant women could go shopping with their friends -- remotely.

"She could be in Paris, your mom, watching you try on your wedding dress (while you are in New York)," Enright told Reuters Tuesday as he unveiled the interactive mirror at a retail trade show.

Using the interactive mirror, a shopper's friends can then text message back with comments about the outfit.

After all these years I've been practising how not to get taken on shopping trips, now they can simply phone me and ask if their bum looks big in this?



Microsoft Vista

The things you can find out by rootling around on the web:

Buried deep in the bumf for Microsoft's new Vista release is a line that says it handles sound very differently. This kind of jolly PR spin is enough to chill the blood of those who rely on Windows running their audio production software reliably.

Whenever a new version of Windows hits the street it tends to roil up the murky waters of the music and audio production world. Prospects of having to get new device drivers and new versions of otherwise perfectly reliable software is just a hassle most of us could do without. There has been some panic that it might be the case with Vista as well, but at first glance it doesn't appear to portend any major problems for music and audio software users.


The crack about the way Vista handles sound is not complete moonshine, though. This refers to a new way of handling audio called "Media Foundation", which is clearly aimed at Media Centre type systems. This looks like it adds a lot of fancy audio processing stuff into the operating system. As most dedicated music production software avoids the operating system's built-in audio facilities, the impact of going "Vista" should be minimal for anyone working seriously with music.

I especially liked the view that Vista was simply a version of XP that worked. Very droll.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Business Necessities

I'm always surprised by the number of people I meet who want my business (no, that's not the surprising bit, people in business are supposed to want my business) who then struggle to tell me who they are and how to reach them.

It just seems very odd in this day and age of being so hugely connected that people so often fail to tell us how we can indeed connect. For example, my local electrician sent me his quote by email. Great, I also paid him by Paypal. But at that first meeting, when I said, OK, where do I get hold of you he tried to "beam" his cell phone number to me...that doesn't work as I use an old cell phone, one that we can't do that to. So we ended up writing his email down on a scrap of paper from the bar (yes, still a good place to have business meetings).

What is it with people? Haven't they heard of the old but hugely successful technology of business cards? I'm sure it's at least a century old, this idea that you put your name, profession, phone numbers and, in more modern times, email, onto a card and give it to people. Such a simple solution to this common problem.

As for real estate business cards: we've just bought this house I'm typing this up in and when I was hunting around the market it was almost impossible to get the local realtors to le me know how to contact them. The one single person who did in fact get our business was the only one who did have a real estate business card...but even then it was out of date and he had to hand write his new numbers onto it.

I'm told from my man who knows about such things that you can also get magnetic business cards these days. Sounds like an excellent method of advertising actually, they'll end up being used as refrigerator magnets, something that will be viewed again and again as those milk and cookies orders get processed.

I do realise that here I'm living in a bit of a backwater, but please, business cards really aren't that much to ask for are they? Forward to a century ago sort of thing?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Couldn't you Pull Over Love?

Difficult to believe, I know, but here it is, reported as news:

Israeli police investigating why a car was blocking traffic in the fast lane of a major highway Sunday found a couple inside having sex.

A police spokesman said the female driver and her male passenger gave in to their passions without pulling over to the side of the road, causing congestion and leaving other motorists having to swerve to dodge their stationary vehicle.

A patrolman gave the woman a ticket for holding up traffic.

It's not that tough to pull over to the hard shoulder is it?

Modern Wonders of the World

Want to take part in a global vote to decide upon the wonders of the world?

What are the greatest architectural achievements in history? Rome's Colosseum? The Great Wall of China? The Pyramids of Giza?

That's what millions of people are asking themselves as they vote in the largest global poll ever conducted, an attempt to recast ancient history by ranking the top architectural marvels as the "new" seven wonders of the world.

Besides the vast scale of the poll -- itself a wonder -- the new list may reveal what the wired voters in today's global village view differently from the ancient Greeks, who laid out the original seven wonders more than two thousand years ago.

Well, it was a Greek actually, but still.

The other four leading candidates for the new list are the Incan mountaintop city Machu Picchu in Peru, the rose-red desert city of Petra in Jordan, Easter Island's mysterious statues and India's Taj Mahal.

Further down the 21-entry shortlist -- which in turn was whittled down from 77 by a panel of architectural experts -- are the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Statue of Liberty in New York, Britain's Stonehenge and Moscow's Kremlin.

Ah, you don't actually get to pick, you have to choose from a pre-determined list. Pity.

Vote here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Blogging admin

Nasdaq Up 3,000 points?

Ooops, someone pressed the wrong buttons:

Technology bulls may have thought the heady days of the Internet era were back in swing on Tuesday after the Nasdaq composite index surged more than 3,000 points, but the spike was due to a glitch.

The index rose in the morning as high as 5,482.62, well above its recorded March 2000 life-time high of 5,132.52.

"It blew me away," said Bruce Zaro, chief technical strategist at Delta Global Advisors Inc., in Plymouth, Massachusetts. "I think someone pressed the wrong digit."

Indeed, a spokesman for the Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. (NDAQ.O: Quote, Profile, Research) said erroneous trades involving shares of Optimer Pharmaceuticals Inc. (OPTR.O: Quote, Profile, Research) had caused the index to spike higher.

Now, the thing is, you can have options on Nasdaq: I wonder if anyone managed to sell their call options while all of that was going on?


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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mother's Day's Acomin'

So, have you got yourself organised for Mother's Day yet? After all, she did spend all those years wiping you, chucking food down your gannet like neck and so on, surely a bouquet of Mother's Day flowers isn't too much for her to expect?

That's where Dot Flowers comes in, click through the link to see more about what they have to offer. Firstly, they can organise flowers from their own farms delivered direct. Or, if you're like me, and you forget the day despite this reminder, they can organise same day delivery from your local flower shop.

And what about those who don't want to give flowers? Well, they also offer gift baskets and gourmet foods. It's all terribly simple to use and order and the website's very clean. With their committment to customer service you'll be sure to get what you want delivered on time.

Worth checking out as the one thing you don't want to forget is that little thank you to the mother who brought you into the world. 

That Double Baptism Danger

I'm not sure that this is necessarily something to particularly worry about but it is amusing all the same:

Pope Benedict was baptized at birth and will most likely be baptized again one year after his death, not by his Roman Catholic Church but by a Mormon he never met.

The Mormons, a U.S.-based denomination officially named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), encourage members to baptize the dead by proxy in the belief they are helping the deceased attain full access to heaven.

Church members are told to focus on their ancestors, a rite understandable in a relatively new denomination founded in 1830. But so many now perform the rituals for celebrities, heroes and perfect strangers that the practice has spun out of control.

Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Genghis Khan, Mao Zedong, King Herod, Al Capone and Mickey Mouse have all appeared for a short time in the International Genealogical Index for proxy baptisms, said Helen Radkey, a researcher specialized in the IGI.

"It seems that any kind of name at all may be submitted," said Radkey from Salt Lake City, where the Church is based. The IGI also accepts names for rites that "seal" spouses in eternal marriage or parents and children in eternal families.

This has outraged Jews and baffled Christians who see it as usurping the memory of their departed relatives. The Church says it cannot stem the tide of dead baptized in its own temples.

The thing is, if the Mormons are right, then they're doing everyone a favour. If they're wrong, as Christians and Jews (and all other faiths, of course) insist, then it doesn't matter a damn. So why get upset by it?