Sunday Rants – Music Labels are soooo archaic!

June 12, 2011

A quick rant this week, but one that is fairly relevant to current events. As you should know if you’ve been reading the blog (which I’m sure all of you do!) this week Apple revealed it’s new iCloud service at WWDC. As part of this service, you will be able to match songs on your computer to cloud copies on iTunes and stream them to your Apple devices anywhere for a small fee.

Except it seems this aspect of iCloud is still not quite ironed out. Apple plan to launch the service in Autumn this year, but will be unable to in several territories including the UK. Why? Because the music labels still aren’t happy about the service. These are the same music labels who happily made multi-million pound deals with Apple to get this service live in the US, but wont do it across the pond. Granted we on’t know the exact ins and outs, but seeing as Google and Amazon already have similar service set up giving the music labels NOTHING, I would say they have a pretty good deal going.

They give the reasoning of not knowing exactly what impact the new service will make as yet and so are biding their time before continuing, but I think these bigwigs are yet to realise that their time is up.

The music industry have been notoriously poor at evolving when new things come along and they still haven’t really moved into the 21st century and the age of the computer. They do little about the piracy which is widely happening throughout the net and then sulk that their profits are down. They seem to think that they can still command every other media around them, as was possible in the 80’s when the music industry was all powerful and dominant. But now we have the internet and the big labels still seem to ignore it’s existence.

The iCloud service will give the industry a little bit of money back for music that has been pirated. In a way it’s a big step for the industry, effectively introducing an amnesty for those who have ‘illegally’ got music on their systems in return for a new cloud service for these individuals. It’s making money for the industry which they never had, yet due to them not making agreements in all countries including our own, they’re delaying progress and a chance for them to truly enter the digital age.

And who is disadvantaged from all of this? The consumer. It’s always us!

The music labels just annoy me because they just refuse to accept progress and continue on blindly thinking they’re the dominant force. They seem to think they can stop Amazon and Google’s music lockers even though the files stored on them are probably legally done so.  They need to evolve and move on and iCloud gives them the option to do so.

I do think they’ll do it eventually, but there’s no need for these ridiculous delays, maybe they should be watching the film, TV and games industries who have all taken to the internet in a big way and are therefore now beating the music industry for profits… stop being so damn archaic!

I’m off to watch some F1, enjoy your Sunday 😀


Sunday Rants – Cowell’s Britain

June 5, 2011

Anyone else think this has gone too far now? Well I do. I am more than fed up with Simon Cowell’s domination of the media at the moment. Last night, one of his flagship shows, ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ ended here in the UK, but the sad thing is, that won’t be the end of it, it will never be the end of it. Simon Cowell and his Syco company are too good at getting their own way year-round and the British Public/Press are too good at giving it to him.

I’ve never liked any of Mr. Cowell’s shows. Talent shows –  especially ones which are manipulative, fake, manufactured and place utmost importance on the events of the show instead of things that really matter – have never really appealed to me. But that’s OK, they are just TV shows and I can just ignore them.

Except I can’t, because Mr. Cowell is an expert at getting his show talked about at every opportunity. Proof at that would be the fact that every day I go to work, the people there are constantly reviewing his shows and speaking about their love/hate of the contestants. Facebook is even worse, in fact one of the reasons I use this site so rarely now is due to the fact it constantly gets invaded with chatter about BGT or X Factor.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the press always jump on Cowell’s shows, not just when they are on TV, but any time that Simon spreads a story for publicity. Agreed, some papers/networks/websites are more subject to this praise of Cowell’s work than others, but all of them continue to carry his stories and give him free publicity. It’s not news…

This brings me on to a story that horrified me earlier this week. As I understand it, the producers of BGT were accused of fixing the results to help one of the contestants, a child, win. The claim from an anonymous blogger went on to say that Syco had signed this contestant up 2 years ago.

Now, whether this is true or not, I do not know, all I know is that this story gives BGT some more publicity, just what Cowell wants. But that wasn’t enough for him. He was – apparently – so outraged by this false claim, that he called in the police to investigate who had said it and therefore prosecute them for the lies. So Simon Cowell is now using our police force to get more publicity for his crappy shows, because that’s all it was, a further publicity stunt. And it worked, this story was everywhere, it even made the top headline of my local ITV news. Unbelievable.

And what makes this story worse is the fact that it wasted Police time. There are far far more important things going on in our country, far worse crimes, yet these were put on the back-burner so we could protect Cowell and his disgusting fortunes, which didn’t need protecting as it was all a stunt anyway.

And maybe you don’t believe that Cowell does do all of this for publicity, maybe these events really do happen and then get picked up by the press by chance. But it’s interesting that every X-Factor/BGT has always had some kind of ‘scandal’ in the weeks leading up to the final – be it Judges replaced, acts squabbling, arguments between Syco and ITV or countless fix claims, it’s all a publicity stunt.

If you need any more proof, just look at the controversy with Cheryl Cole on the US X Factor. First she wasn’t doing it, then she was. Then Fox decided to get rid of her due to not understanding her. For a couple of weeks we were outraged that our geordie princess had been shunned by the US in favour of a Pussycat Doll. The whole time, both UK and US (and probably even Taiwan) media were covering the story daily, packed with rumours. And then, today, it’s been reported that Cheryl is to rejoin the S X Factor (and probably get more money for it). What a load of rubbish, you would have to be completely naive to not realise how much of a stunt that was, just to drum up interest in another rubbish show.

I can’t believe that people still buy this rubbish, it’s all just a big money-making machine for a man who is already grossly overpaid. The shows are cheap, simple and nasty and the stories are nothing but sensationalist bollocks. This needs to stop, it has gone too far and I can’t stand it’s dominance of the UK media.

Maybe X Factor US will properly take off and then this can all transfer over to them – or more likely it’ll multiply and Cowell will take the world…

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday 😀


Sunday Rants – Thoughtless Sponsorship

May 22, 2011

Sponsorship has become a way of life in business. Need a quick way to make some money? Get a sponsor on board. Want to make it big in sport? Bring in money with the sponsors. Need to fix up a part of your business, but don’t have the ready cash? There’s a sponsor for that!

On the whole, the concept of sponsorship seems fine. Nothing wrong with a company making a bit of easy money, nothing wrong with another one advertising their product (much). But sponsorship can go to far and can ruin things that were once loved or admired and turn them into nothing more than a corporate billboard.

Sometimes sponsors can ruin the name of something irreparably. Take for example the American Motorsport Champ Cars. That’s what it used to be called, until in 2003 when the sport got into financial difficulties and became ‘Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford’. Eurgh! Even as an acronym that’s terrible.

I also despise the whole terms of ‘Bridgestone Presents’. Bridgestone don’t present anything. They make tyres and paid a bit of money to the series to get their name up there. But then again, I guess that’s a more American term that I’m not used to and therefore tend to not like.

Another time sponsorship can be bad is for TV shows. This doesn’t count for everything of course, trashy reality shows like X Factor and Big Brother thrive on their sponsors and in a way it sets the tone for that show.I believe the sponsors of such shows also add extra competitions for viewers, so that’s not a bad idea and it beats flippin’ product placement.

But it doesn’t fit with the tone of the show when watching dramas. The current ITV one’s with Aviva are just terrible. You could be watching a thriller, a tearjerker or a period piece when every 15 minutes your thrown into a shot of a man in a lift with a tiger having a fight, or a man stuck up a tree upside down. Oh how funny, I’d better get some life insurance. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t fit with the mood of the show and massively detracts from my suspension of disbelief.

Now we move on to what I see as just pure vandalism. The London Eye became sponsored by EDF energy at the start of this year, a company who’s colour scheme is orange and blue. Almost as soon as this happened, one of the 32 capsules on the eye was painted orange. It’s a complete and utter eyesore to what it one of our countries iconic landmarks. There is no reason to do this, BA never wanted the capsules red and blue when they sponsored the eye, because they knew it would look awful.

It’s unknown at the moment if the whole eye will eventually turn orange or whether this will be a one-off, the owners Merlin are currently fighting Lambeth Council over the decision, but this isn’t the biggest orange problem I have with Merlin at the moment.

Oblivion at Alton Towers was more than a ride. It was the worlds first vertical drop rollercoaster and was one of the most intimidating sights in the theme park world. Even now, 13 years on, it still had quite a daunting psychological feel to it. But sadly that has now all but diminished, because Merlin have decided that this ride should be sponsored by Fanta.

And it wouldn’t be so bad if this had been done tastefully. But it hasn’t. The park has put cardboard billboards all over the ride, plastered in bright orange, with goofy carton characters. The ride has always had a dark menacing feel, which has now been ripped out and replaced with bus-stop style advertising.

Oblivion had one of the most well-know catachphrases for coasters worldwide – ‘Don’t Look Down’. This still remains, but there’s now several more, ‘Bring It On’, ‘Tummy Bubbling Fun’ and the disastrous ‘Looking Down Is the Fun Part’ – talk about contradiction.

Maybe I’m too close to Alton Towers and Oblivion itself (it was the scariest thing I’d ever seen when I was 9), but I can’t stand this. What was a work of art (and if you’d have seen it in it’s prime you would agree) has been turned into a joke. It Wouldn’t be so bad if the sponsor money had gone into sorting out the flaking paint and broken scenery in the area, but it hasn’t. The ride is still run down, just with some posters. The most appalling sponsorship I have ever seen.

And the sad thing about all of this is the fact that sponsorship can be done well. Many sports are sponsored, but just done quietly and subtly like the Barclaycard Premiership. Serious TV shows can be done well, the documentary spots on Channel 4 work just fine. And at Alton Towers, when Spinball was sponsored by Sonic last year, it was welcome as the ride was fully repainted and rethemed, making it look new again.

It goes to show that sponsorship does have a place, rightly so, because when it is done with thought, everyone is happy. But when it is done in a rushed fashion, with no correlation between what is being sponsored and the sponsor themselves, it makes everything look tacky and poor.

Some of you may think everything I’ve just said is not important in the grand scheme of things, fair enough, but if you feel like me, let Alton Towers know what we think by putting your name to the TowersTimes petition.

Enjoy your Sunday 😀


Sunday Rants – Blame The Lib Dems

May 8, 2011

Unless you were living under an avalanche of rocks in the last week, you’ll be aware that Thursday was election/referendum day (hope you voted!). The results of this vote seem to have shown one thing – the public have blamed all their troubles on the Liberal Democrats.

Of course I’m all for a fair vote, people can vote whichever way they want, they should, it’s a democracy. But I question the motives of why so many have voted against the Lib Dems. It’s most likely to be a lack of faith – after all, they’ve not done brilliantly in living up to their manifesto. But surely by doing this, everyone’s just played into the Tories hands.

The thing is, everyone went to the Polling Stations on Thursday looking for someone to blame. The country is facing devastating cut after cuts, leaving people without jobs and (so far) not really helping the economy. The Lib Dems appear to have sold out a bit here. Their policies involved scrapping tuition fees and investing money elsewhere. These have not come into fruition, in fact quite the opposite has happened. But it’s not just them in the Government.

We must remember that it is really the Conservatives that are in power. Yes it’s a coalition Government, but the Tories have 307 seats to the Lib Dems 57. I think they’re firmly in charge.

Yet when everyone made their decision, they chose to blame the Lib Dems for all of their issues. This is not going to help anything. If you disagree with the Tories policies, then aim to strike a blow to them. A vote for the Lib Dems would be a vote against the main policies of the coalition and ‘could’ start to turn things around. But by many Lib Dem voters shifting away from their party, they’ve only ensures that the Tories are even more powerful in parliament.

The Lib Dems have tried to get policies through, many haven’t succeeded. But the income tax allowance rise (which came in last month) was a policy of theirs which would never have happened under a solely Tory Government. And I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the other recent budget policies stemmed from Lib Dem thinking (the scrapping of the 5p fuel duty which was due in April).

It’s not what Lib Dem supporters wanted, but it was never going to be in a Coalition, you have to make compromises. Yes tuition fees went up (although I do think it’s not as bad as everyone makes out), yes the cuts have been horrible – but this is a joint Government with the Lib Dems in the lower power situation. If you didn’t like it, vote against the Tories.

And you could argue that the Lib Dems were naïve to go into this coalition not expecting a public backlash – and perhaps they were. But think about the situation this time last year. Three main options. 1. The Libe Dems could form with Labour and create a ‘Coalition of losers’ – hardly democracy in action… 2. The Conservatives could have formed a minority government, leaving our country to have even less control or authority (and may even have led to allegations of the Lib Dems supporting a Tory Government without even being in power). Or 3. what actually happened.

It was the best of three poor alternatives – but it had to be done. It was the fairest way to resolve the hung parliament situation which needed sorting there and then.

As I said at the start, I love the fact that we have a democracy in this country, we should defend it as best we can as there are many protesting with their lives in the middle-east for this privilege. It’s right for the public to make their choice, but I just feel that this choice was made for all the wrong reasons and constructed by a media who have been ‘Liberal-bashing’ for months now.

For the record, I am not a strong Lib-Dem campaigner (I personally think all of them lie, cheat and betray), but I think it’s a real shame that after having it for one year, we appear to have lost genuine three-party politics again and are stuck with just two real options, The Conservatives and Labour.

This time last year a top Twitter hashatag was #iagreewithnick, more recently that’s changed to #iblamenick . I guess it just shows what a fickle country we all really are!

Enjoy your Sunday 😀


Sunday Rants – Gripes with the BBC

May 1, 2011

I’ll be the first to come to the BBC’s defence normally. I think they’re a great establishment – far more important than most realise and far more hard-working than alot give them credit for (Daily Mail, I’m looking at you). But this past week, the corporation has managed to really hack me off.

And it’s stupid things, things that a lot of you wont care about, but things which I think the worlds greatest media institution should be getting right.

Lets start with yesterday. As you should know, I’m quite the nerd and am very interested in the latest tech and gadgets which is why ‘Click’, the BBC’s tech show is regular viewing for me. It’s scheduled on BBC News Channel every Saturday morning at 11.30 am.

But the very nature of the channel is the problem. Frequently the show gets bumped for breaking news. This is fully understandable – it is after all BBC News, I expect breaking news to be shown. But yesterday, ‘Click’ wasn’t bumped for news at all, it was bumped for a Royal Wedding update. At 11:15 (15 mins before Click) the Royal Couple had left Buckingham Palace by helicopter, half-an-hour later they were still on about it.

What was stupid about the whole issue was the fact that no reporter had any news. We cut to at least four different people in London who all said the same thing – there’s nothing to report right now, but we’ll keep you posted. The whole time this debacle was going on, we were told by the red banner at the bottom of the screen ‘Breaking News – Royal Wedding’. NO! This was not breaking news, for that to happen there actually needs to be some news.

The BBC were so enthralled by nothing happening in London, that they barely mentioned the horrific crash on the M11 where two people lost their life. Hardly journalism in action…

So after realising I wasn’t going to get to see ‘Click’ on TV, I decided to watch the show on iPlayer. Normally this has been put up a few hours earlier (as Click is first shown at 1am). But this week it hadn’t been and instead of coming online after 11.30 when the show should have been on TV, the time had now been pushed back to 8.30 – the programmes next showing.

This I think is absolutely ridiculous. If you wont show it on TV due to the news, then at least provide it on your online service. I hardly think ‘Click’ is going to get high enough ratings for online viewing to dent it. I see no reason why the show was not on iPlayer as it should have been, why should I wait any longer. We’re in the age of the computer – embrace it a bit more, it’s the way all TV is going!

Although this has been the thing to annoy me most, the Beeb have been quite stupid with some of their scheduling recently – particularly Saturday nights.

What on earth happened to Saturday night TV. I know people have been making that comment for years, but it really is dire now, especially the BBC. Case in point being ‘Don’t Scare The Hare’, a psychadelic ‘gameshow’ that even kids are embarrassed to watch. The star of the show is a 4 ft high animatronic Hare which gets scared/angry whenever contestants make a mistake. The games in the show see grown men and women remember simple sequences, answer dull questions and grab carrots. It belongs on Cbeebies, yet the BBC put this out at 5.30 on a Saturday night. It makes me yearn for Hole In The Wall.

The BBC also push out a glut of half-arsed reality shows, the current one being ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ – a poor mans Strictly meets X Factor. It’s dull, repetitive and downright garish. I just wish that instead of making poor copies of ITV’s programmes (which they’ll never beat with viewing figures) they went for something more different and imaginative.

Thanks God the channel also has Doctor Who on a Saturday night – which has been on top form the last two weeks. But of course the Beeb don’t seem to care about this show. Instead of scheduling for prime-time (anything after 7). The show keeps getting shoved into a 6 o clock timeslot – hardly the time for an intelligent drama series. And from looking at future weeks, it seems it’s going to get shoved all over the schedule whenever the BBC feel like it. Some people don’t know a good thing when they’ve got it, even after 6 years of success!

And speaking of destroying success, I have little faith in BBC One’s new(ish) controller Danny Cohen. Earlier this week, Mr Cohen stated how there are too many Male sleuths on BBC One and he will be axing shows to make sure this is solved. He’s already got rid of the critically acclaimed Zen after just one series and now shows such as Sherlock, George Gently, Wallander and Luther are all in the firing line. Hardly a good reason to get rid of a show and I will be fuming if he touches Sherlock – easily the best drama of last year.

And maybe Mr. Cohen should have a quick look at ITV, they have more male sleuth’s than Scotland Yard!

Phew, that was a long rant and I think that’s because I do love the BBC – it makes it even worse when they mess things up!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday! 😀


Sunday Rants – Royal Wedding Fever

April 24, 2011

Something’s happening next Friday, you may have heard. It’s called ‘The Royal Wedding’ and it will see joy an happiness spread throughout our United Kingdom as our future King ties the knot with his finace. And the whole thing will be beamed to you live – in fact it might be quite hard to miss.

Now, everyone likes a wedding. Well, actually that’s not true, but they are happy occasions. I get that. And it is of course lovely for Prince William and Kate Middleton. I’m sure they will have an incredibly happy day and I couldn’t be happier for them.

What I do object to however, is this assumption in the media (and our Government) that this should invigorate our lives and turn our country into a wonderful place to live again. There were comments in the media last year (when the date was set) going as fas as to suggest that people would be so happy, we could forget about the financial crisis.

Of course! Nothing distracts me away from the doom and gloom of our current economic climate more than a wedding between two people I don’t know and never will. It’s not like we’ll even be invited to the reception so we can all get hammered and dance the night away.

But of course Mr Cameron has addressed that. He said just the other week that he would like us all to have a street party. Riiight, a street party. Well I suppose it could unite us all in a lovely and happy way for a few hours. But what happens afterwards? Oh I know, the street is turned into a tip and we never speak to any of our neighbours again, great. And who exactly is paying for these ‘street parties’ during these tough times?

Actually, we shouldn’t just pay for ourselves to have a party to celebrate this day, we should also commemorate it in every single way we can by buying merchandise. The amount of souvenirs in shops is staggering. There’s not just the usual mugs and plates, you can buy a soap pack, pens, characters, cakes, ducks, models, costumes, moulded biscuits. You can even join a Royal Wedding club whatever that is. People will spend loads on this and it’s not even their own wedding. Shocking!

Then there’s the fact that we are actually expected to watch this ‘event’. The TV networks have been shoving the day down our throats for weeks now, their adverts piercing my eyeballs every time I am near a TV screen. Four channels and YouTube will be streaming the same footage in the UK. What exactly is the point? – Mind you, ITV’s could be a laugh with Phillip Schofield hosting, maybe he’ll make Wills and Kate beat ‘The Cube’ before carrying on.

And what exactly will the coverage show? I checked the schedule earlier and we have highlights such as fashion designers predicting Kate’s Dress, Jake Humphrey watching people enter Westminster, fashion experts commenting on guests appearance, commentary of the carriages arriving, Alistair Stewart waiting for Kate to emerge from her home, fashion experts commenting on Kate’s (and hopefully Alistair’s) appearance, the actual ceremony itself and to round it all off fashion experts reviewing what was worn and what should have been worn by all protagonists. Mind you, that’s all followed by Wallace and Gromit!

And if our hype wasn’t bad enough, in the US it’s just ridiculous. It’s being trailed like a movie, with William having the sorrow of losing his mother and now the poetic rejoice of giving his mum’s ring to his bride. They are actually using the phrase ‘biggest event of the year’ in the US, which makes it all the more funnier that the American’s couldn’t care less about our hyped-up day off.

And I suppose I should stop complaining, because as I have just mentioned, I and most of the country, will have a day off on April 29th. I shall personally be staying away from the wedding (although I may watch a bit of TV’s just to see how dreadful it will be) and hopefully enjoying our nice weather.

There’s nothing wrong with people getting married, it’s lovely. I just struggle to care to the extent that people expect me to about two people I know very little about. I can’t wait until we return to dull, drab, unoriginal Britain again and this madness will just be a distant memory…

Enjoy the remainder of your Easter Sunday! 😀


Sunday Rants – Smokescreen of the smokers

April 17, 2011

It’s a cliche’d rant and one that’s been done several times before, but if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s smoking.

I’d like to make it clear that I know several people who smoke and they are all very nice, polite people. I am not getting at the one’s who are polite and understand that their smoke affects others. It’s the one’s who don’t that infuriate me.

I am proud to say that I have never smoked a cigarette, I’ve never seen the point. Why would I want to fill my lungs with ash, tar and carbon monoxide. That just seems like a stupid thing to do and that’s before you factor in the various diseases and Cancer which the whole ‘hobby’ can do.

But never-the-less millions of people do it and fair play to them. I don’t care if other people want to smoke so long as it doesn’t affect me.

And that’s the problem. It does affect me. In the last few years, the various Governments have tried to crack down on smokers. They’ve been removed from the workplace, restaurants and pubs and stuffed outside. You could feel that this is unfair for them, against their human rights. Or you could be realistic and realise that this is only for the good of everyone.

Most people in the country do not smoke and therefore do not want to breathe in so-called ‘second hand smoke’ from those who do wish to inflict this upon themselves. Yet despite the moves to counter this, non-smokers are still polluted with this horrible habit on a daily basis.

When I walk out of my workplace, I find several smokers standing just outside causing a smokescreen between myself and the world outside. Unless I want to stay in the building, I have no choice but to walk through this and endure the disgusting smell and taste of the smoke.

You could argue that this is just a small thing and I could always hold my breath, but in many instances you find yourslef with no way to escape the smog.

One example of this, would be smokers at themeparks. You may be aware that I visit quite a few parks a year and so have a lot of experience of this. When you are queuing for a ride, you have no-where to go. You must stand in line or lose your place. This is then made a horrible and disgusting experience when someone lights up next to you. I can’t stand situations like this. Maybe I have a slightly more adverse reaction than others to this, but the smell really turns my stomach to the extent that I want to throw up.

I can’t believe that people can’t wait more than an hour for their next fag. It’s pathetic and disgusting, especially when no effort is made to direct the smoke away from others around them.

Yet, these things are not what annoy me most about smokers. The worst thing about those who are inconsiderate to others, is the fact that they drop their fag ends anywhere. The entire world is a rubbish bin to these smokers and they’ll leave their fags anywhere!

Someone has to pick them up you know. I spent many a morning working at Alton Towers picking up cigarette butts that the previous days guests had discarded. There were also a couple of cigarette related fires during my time there. There just seems to be no consideration for others.

This has gone so far at my current workplace that my employers have paid for new cigarette bins (which don’t seem to be being used) and will give smokers a free pouch to put their litter in. This is the money I pay for my car-parking at work, being re-invested to help with a disgusting habit. Appauling!

I am well aware that this is the age-old story of ‘the minority ruining it for the majority’ and that’s what makes it even worse. Smokers already have a bad enough name thanks to the shocking health risks involved, there’s no need to make the situation worse.

So please, if you do smoke, try and be considerate to others. Some of us can’t stand the stench and the squallor of it all. Lets make the country a nicer place to live ahhh!

Enjoy what little is left of your Sunday 😀