Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Day For Treating Myself...

I've never really wanted for anything. Well, I suppose there is always something that you would like to own but if you actually asked me at this moment in time to name something it would be difficult to give you a specific item.

It may be boring but I really do put health and happiness first. I do get pleasure out of the most simple things possible.

It would be wrong for me to say that I never done without but I'm not sure that I could give a for instance. I seem to remember being given treats as a child whether a comic or some sweets. I would get a "single" record if we went somewhere special perhaps to Newcastle Upon Tyne by train and whilst I am unsure that I always came home with a toy, I do know that I would always visit Fenwick's and have a look around the toy department which was as big as any and more so to me when young. Was I spoilt? No, I don't believe so, only by being given lots of love and having a happy childhood. Maybe that's why even though I seem grumpy occasionally in reality I am content. My worry is that little I have may be squeezed still further as time and circumstances change but I suspect that is the same for many.

I don't think that I will have walked the streets of Newcastle for over 25 years.

I think the truth is I have been happy with what I have been given and though sometimes it seemed to take longer to have what others did, in time I knew that we would.

In reality, we probably were not that far behind others but put it this way BBC2 started in 1962(I think)and we did not start seeing it until 1969. I think we purchased our first colour television in 1973(though the colour service was introduced on a grand scale, I would think in 1969)

I remember how important it seemed to get a stereogram and our's was an HMV. They were more like a piece of furniture.

I think I had my first proper Hi-Fi around 1978 and it was purchased at Comet and manufactured by Pioneer but the important thing was to get a pair of speakers of made by Wharfedale. They were beautiful and big...they had to be big. Size is always important...right?

What I have neglected in the last 20 years or so is the buying of cd's and music. Some of that boils down, I suspect to listening to more speech radio, not living in a town that offers the widest choice of artists and music as I may find in a large town or city and I have not really started to download(more likely if I get broadband)and more sites offer more than chart music but probably because when I do get into a large music store I am so spoilt for choice but watching what I spend I actually avoid buying. In some cases to buy a cd is a big expense for me. Especially if I am then disappointed.

I am always thinking if I buy this, can I afford it and...will I need the money I have spent for something else.

Having seen a concert of her a few years ago(on television)I noticed Diana Krall's new cd on the shelf and what do you know it has 13 tracks all produced with lush strings and solo instrumentalists accompanying her vocalising and piano playing and every song a classic.

Madeleine Peyroux...and amongst some self penned material she has included some oldies written by Irving Berlin and Johnny Mercer. But also Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. I decided to buy after hearing only 30 or 40 seconds of her in a tv commercial. I know nothing about her. It also helped that the cd was being sold with approx £3 off the the price.

Tony Bennett and his Duets album and again produced to such a high standard. Many, probably all the songs have been sung by him over his long career and again for me not a duff song on the cd(and enclosed it details of a series of four other cd's)that have been released offering the best of his work. I am seriously thinking of acquiring these. He appeared on the X Factor last weekend and comparing him to those in the contest trying to sing with a large orchestra and not wail but to actually hold and control their notes you realise just how many today will never be as great. So many of today's artists sound alike. I may look into other Diana Krall recordings.

Finally, a new vocalist, again I know little of him but he does seem to be very popular across Europe, Patrizio Buanne.

The point is that all the above are able to sing, it does not seem to be an effort for them and because they sing properly I expect that their voices will last for years(Tony Bennett proves it)they don't shout, scream or strain their voices. I like all kinds of music but this brings me back to my argument that radio and television over here only want to give those in the charts exposure most of the time and lots of music is neglected.

That's not strictly true because these cd's are in the charts or will be so their is obviously a big audience for it and even though its not being played its making mega profits for the record companies and selling in big numbers. So the demand is there. And these artists are prepared to go back and revisit the great songs that we and they know and have grown up on and are willing to put them alongside the newer material.

Its not going to happen but I would love to be in the position where I could walk into an HMV/Virgin or specialist store with maybe £1,000 in my pocket, be frivolous and just walk out with whatever I want. I am sure that there are many of us who imagine just once being able to spend without having to think of the consequences. After all I have something like 25 years to catch up on. I can remember going into a store and buying 3-4 cd's of Julie London(they were well priced but contained two original albums on each)

I was in so much debt I wondered if I could pay back what I had spent as I was paying the minimum amount on my credit card but I so wanted them.

I did buy them and they were worth it but I have never been in debt since. They weren't the reason but pushed me over the edge. If I cannot afford it or pay in cash, I won't buy. When I use my credit card, I now leave a sum of money sitting there and remain in credit and if I use the card I know that the money is there to cover what I purchase. Rather than paying afterwards.

Its dangerous to recommend cd's to others but if you like something well produced and easy on the ear I think that you may enjoy some of the above.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

All Those Radio Stations And Places To Download Music From...

And still I often find it difficult to find what I want to hear. I have a broad appreciation of music and will try just about anything. You have to support new artists and composers but why do we have to neglect or ignore some of the great music and performers of the past?

We still have classical music being played and though perhaps the listening figures may suggest otherwise it really sells.

And therefore, I feel the same about music that is neglected and practically unheard anywhere in the UK. Many songs and pieces of music are covered by today's artists and they often admit to liking these older songs and growing up in a household where they heard all different types of music and perhaps that's the problem these days.

I still believe that one national station could survive and draw enough listeners playing this type of music. BBC Radio 2 does play a little at certain times but I would reckon we are talking no more 5 hours per week. Equally, to make matters worse, Radio 2 will often broadcast documentaries acknowledging certain artists and their place in musical culture and don't play it.

In this country main television and radio stations and those awarded licences from the broadcasting regulator mainly stick to chart music and the kind of material represented by the X Factor. So its interesting that one heat recently had their contestants singing swing numbers/standards. An example of how different things are...Matt Monroe Jr can sell out concerts in the Philippines with audiences of 50,000 at venues and will be invited onto television shows. And does very well in the States, Australia etc...here virtually little or no publicity.

Yet he is doing an extensive nationwide tour in the UK. Where did I hear him interviewed? Around 3am on a Monday morning by accident on a station I have not listened to regularly for years which is a talk station and I admit to mistakingly thinking concentrated on Sport because its previous owner changed its format from talk to mainly a sports talk station but it appears to offer some general chat.

Its still not readily available via download sites on the internet so as much of this material is hard to come across, this perhaps shows why those file sharing sites were so popular not so long ago. The material seems far more accessible in the States and across Europe. I'm not sure why.

There are specialist labels managing to market this material with enough sales to make it worth their while and these same companies often clean up the recordings making them sound as good or better than they did when issued.

There is a great swathe of material that is being totally ignored.

Friday, October 27, 2006

When The Red Red Robin...

Look...you know that the following pictures fuzzy and I know that they are(if ever I needed an excuse to invest in a better camera) but it isn't helped by the fact that I had to take this through double glazing as well.

But if nothing else it proves that I do have at least one robin that is still visiting my garden regardless of the changes my neighbours have made that has affected how many and the variety of birds that once visited my nature reserve.

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I don't always see it...but I do hear it. I have never managed to have one nest in my garden but the frequency of its appearence suggests that it must be living not too far away.

And yes, the collared doves have returned as well, not as regularly as before but a couple of times daily I do sometimes have nine landing at once. So they seem to have formed a little community or are perhaps all part of one family. They are quiet, cause no mess or trouble.

Simple things really do give the most pleasure.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Is There Hope For Radio And In Particular Speech Radio?

Will we see a return where it regains some of its importance? That some broadcasters around the world that have practically given up on anything more than offering a music format that is almost a copy of a competitor. That is more than a station of phone-ins but offers more Drama, Comedy and Entertainment?

That has enough money pumped into it so it can offer quality as well as quantity.

Perhaps, there is more than a glimmer of hope. And television that took away many of radio's listeners may be the very thing that will drive people back to the medium of radio and the creating of images in the mind.

Some of radio's best performers, writers, producers and ideas have moved into television from radio where they learned their craft and were allowed to grow.

However, an article appeared in The Radio Times listings magazine dated 21-27th October 2006. Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran Two writers of some of the UK's most popular comedy drama's/comedies Shine On Harvey Moon, The New Statesman and Birds Of Feather and the biopic of British fascist leader Mosley have returned to writing for radio.

OK it was only one play for a weekday afternoon drama slot on BBC Radio 4 but its a start. They have plans for more. Isn't it good to see successful writers prepared to return to radio. Radio is still often the only way for many creative people to get into the business. I am always heartened when some performers are ready to return to radio even if they have a successful film or television career, its not for the money but because they love the medium.

Perhaps, the money that they earn from these other forms of the media actually allows them to go back to radio. In recent years some "Hollywood" stars have been prepared to come to the UK and record for the BBC. Some independent produced material does get onto radio in other countries but it is rare.

I suspect as Marks and Gran hint, the current obsession with reality programmes and the cost of television drama/comedy and I see the reduction in advertising revenue, all the competition of many channels chasing an ever dwindling audience who have many more outlets for their leisure time and money just maybe it could do radio a favour.

Who can forget the radio adaptations produced for or by NPR in America(I think)around 20 years ago based on the Star Wars films. More were probably planned but the budget of NPR was reduced making it impossible to continue. Some actors do try to keep audio drama alive, Leonard Nimmoy has and persuaded some very fine actors to join him.
If you check out some of the links on the side of my blog there are some of the early material that US Radio put out during the 30's, 40's and 50's. Allowing for the age and quality and how these recordings were mistreated and many have been lost please appreciate what remains whilst they are available.

Broadcasters smashed the transcription discs, some were stored badly and deteriorated or returned to the producers. Some have been lost by accident...a favourite of mine The Alice Faye and Phil Harris show has very dry and zany humour and one of the actors of the cast who had a long career in US Radio as a performer and producer, Elliott Lewis had copies at his home and they were destroyed with many other treasures in a fire at his home, another set had been kept by Faye and Harris and sdiscovered by their children with the idea of releasing them via a specialist lable that issues old radio programmes...but because they were stored in poor conditions, few if any could be saved and restored or the material transferred.

Thankfully, some people realised their worth at the time of broadcast and though probably a sackable offence took the discs home with them and because of such collectors so many of these wonderful brodcasts are available again to enjoy and as an historical document of what performers did and many reflect society of the time.

Yes, television was popular and like anything new obviously people wnated one and were amazed by being able to watch as well as listen but the reason television was so great when it started is because all these craftsmen of radio entertainment moved into television and took their fresh and inventive ideas across to the new medium. And instead of radio trying to offer some material as before, many gave up due to the fact that commercial sponsorship was reduced to such an extent, it was easier for many to go with phone-ins, news and record programmes. This is especially true in Australia, Canada and the USA.

What did we lose?

Perhaps, it is a case of what goes around, comes around and perhaps radio is coming back into his own. Perhaps, radio did not kill the radio star.

Here are other links where you can hear a series that once appeared on Radio Luxembourg, US Radio and for a time on the BBC and more.


Boxcar711 Podcasts

Harry's Podcasts

The listening figures have come out today and it appears that BBC local radio and the regional radio except for BBC Radio Wales has lost listners.

The previous quarter speech radio station LBC had a reduction in listeners but...things have improved.

LBC 97.3 has increased its listening hours by 23% in the quarter, and 11.8% over the past 12 months.

LBC 1152, Chrysalis's AM rolling news service, saw listening hours almost double in the quarter and increase by 21.5% year on year.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

DAB Announcement...

I know that a blog usually is to invite readers to partake in the life of the writer but it also allows for me to relay information that I feel is not getting the coverage elsewhere and as I am a very big fan of radio broadcasting I think the following worth mentioning.

Ofcom the regulatory body for broadcasting in the UK is promising the release of more frequency spectrum for the use of DAB stations.

The new licence will be advertised in November, according to a timetable issued by the media regulator, Ofcom, yesterday.

Yesterday's announcement means that listeners could be tuning in to up to 10 new national digital radio stations by the beginning of 2008.

The spectrum which will be used for the second national radio multiplex licence will be vacated by the end of 2007, thus enabling the service to launch any time from the beginning of 2008 according to Ofcom.

Currently there are different levels of digital radio choice in different regions of the UK. Around 14% of the UK population, mainly in rural areas, has no access to DAB/digital radio services. Urbanites, on the other hand, can typically tune in to around 30 stations.

The new local digital multiplexes will allow for up to 74 existing local FM and AM analogue services, all BBC local and regional stations and other services to move to DAB.

There has been talk of legal action to be taken against Ofcom and its plans from existing owners of stations and transmitters who feel that this is unfair competition and goes against agreements drawn up between them and the regulator etc...when DAB was launched but as said in an earlier blog entry on this subject DAB is not necessarily all that it said to be and some countries have fallen out of love with DAB deciding to wait for an alternative system and some countries have gone with other systems and some have decided to use different frequencies so if you took your DAB radio with you, it probably will not work in other European countries and I suspect places such as Australia and Canada.

There is an extremely well written and informed article available at the following link(its very clear for those not of a technical mind)so it worked for me ;-)


Update:October 26th As reported on the Media Guardian Website The growth in digital radio ownership has stalled after more than two years of continuous growth.

Just under one in six people, or 15.3%, owned a digital radio in the third quarter of 2006, according to figures published by Rajar today.

A similar number owned a set in the second quarter of the year, the first time that ownership has plateaued since measurement began in 2004.

The number of people listening to the radio via their digital TV sets also fell, down to 38.7% from a high of 38.9% in the second quarter of 2006. However, listening via digital TV is up 10% year on year.

The ownership of digital radios is expected to pick up in the run-up to Christmas, which is traditionally the medium's biggest growth period.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Food Glorious Food...

Its a minefield out there. Different tastes being affected by culture, faith, medical restrictions and personal likes and dislikes even fads that come and go.

There is so much written about food. Programmes on television and radio. Articles in newspapers, magazines, books and online.

And yet all we seem to hear about is the lack of knowledge of how to prepare, cook and present food. How the health of population is poor and we're all heading for obesity and medical problems.

Allowing for all the things that I mention in my opening paragraph that a diet is governed by very few rules. Its simple. Eat less, eat well, everything in moderation and if possible a little exercise. Its not an exact science but you learn what is right for you.

I do believe where possible it helps prevent and keep many ailments from happening or will at least stop them getting worse. But I appreciate that things can still go wrong.

I hear "Experts" say that children are no longer being taught or joining Mum in the Kitchen(or today I suppose we have to say both parents)and learning in a fun way or by observation how to cook. Making a cake and scooping out what remained in the bowl or seeing vegetables being peeled and prepared etc...

That parents who are working, come home and get a frozen meal out of the freezer and warm it up in the microwave or whatever, say that they haven't the time.

It doesn't have to be that way.

Many believe that using frozen vegetables isn't healthy, its not true. A packet of frozen veg can go a long way and how easy is it to cook? About 3-5minutes in a pan of boiling water. New potatoes after a quick rinse in water, the same...into a pan and approx 20 minutes later, all ready. As long as you make certain that you top the water up and check a couple of times all is well, there's nothing to do. Fish and chicken can usually be cooked within 25-60 minutes depending on what it is and how big the item is. Most things you can tell are cooked with only a few simple tests but most items come with simple instructions so you can't get it wrong.
If you want to cheat do so. I'm not against anyone taking a simple prepared item of processed food but putting it next to other ingredients.

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An example is illustrated above. That was all ready within 20 minutes. How much does the above meal cost? I would estimate £1.10 but as you are taking a portion out of a packet of vegetables there is still plenty of stuff left to make a good number of meals over the coming weeks. The follow up might be say Strawberries and Ice Cream(again, there will be plenty remaining for other meals or combinations)and I reckon a portion comes in around 21p and I suppose if you want still another course you could have cheese and biscuits which comes in around 25p so that totals out at £1.56(I suppose I should include the cost of energy but what's it cost to have a meal delivered?)Or hop into a car and go to the takeaway? What does a takeaway cost these days? Sometimes, when I watch the advertisements and see what a burger can cost, my meal comes out quite well priced.

Other meals can be simple, something like beans on toast. What will that cost or how long to get ready? You can easily reach for a piece of fruit. And no, you do not have to cut out those little treats that you enjoy.

What you have to remember(and I don't sit there with pen and paper and calculator working it out)is that a Mars Bar has 400 calories for arguments sake and you look at the size and then look at another item such as the meal above or something like a banana. The meal will fill you, but calorie wise it will be less than that Mars Bar. Or if you want a snack or put off, that banana is again lower in calorific value.

Then again, in most cases there is no reason to avoid that chocolate bar, its if you are sitting there and working your way through a selection of such items and eating more calories than your body can burn off.

Your body will burn it off but if you keep doing this day after day it will take longer, if you are taking more in than you use.

I think that some fast food comes in for bad press which it does not deserve and in some cases its acceptable to partake but not every day. And some of it is popular because its a social event.

You are out for a day's shopping and as a family you pop out for a meal or its tagged onto a visit to the cinema or theatre. I remember that film Supersize Me which I have not seen but have heard discussed in depth, well of course if you eat nothing else and eat massive portions every day, you'll put on weight and harm yourself. I saw a film on television showing someone over indulging with all the food many associate with Christmas and thanks to a camera inside his body you should've seen what is classed as good food can do in both damage, added weight and straining of the body's functions.

Perhaps, that social aspect was(allowing for the fact that takeaways)and convenience food is still a relatively new thing the meals at the table with family and friends in the home were once so important. It was also a bonding thing. And yet, it is suggested that rather than frozen meals, the latest popular trend is to go for more chilled meals which in general means that they are probably more healthy, have less preservatives etc...and again many meals and treats are now having yet another ingredient removed because the so called ill informed public has asked for its removal...Hydrogenated Fat.

So is the public as ignorant as we are led to believe and is the media and Government spin actually making matters seem worse than it really is? Did we really need Jamie Oliver and his campaign, it was media driven and certainly tied in with his television career. I have a feeling things would've changed with the general feeling of the population at this time. If anything it just speeded it up.

This is not a lecture BTW just my general take on the food situation and very much prompted by entries on other blogs that I have read recently.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Remember That Survey...


It had questions about how much of a problem teenagers are regarding hanging around the streets in this area and how parents cope with their children etc etc...and I guess we are fortunate that if there is trouble I am not aware of it. Perhaps that comes of being indoors a lot and being cut off from the world.

So why is it that if the police helicopter comes over this town it nearly always concentrates its search directly above my home or the green over the road. I suppose I should feel safer but I look out and can never see what they have found or looking for.


Today, rather unusually, it appeared around 2pm in the afternoon and stayed around for about an hour, disappeared and then around 4pm though I couldn't see it, I could hear it.

Its not a bad digital camera that I own but though I have little to take photo's of, its good to have a decent camera to hand and I am of the opinion now that as I don't have a mobile phone with built in camera, it may be policy to always have a camera on my person for those unexpected events and moments.

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But I think I'll invest in another as some cameras now exist that offer more shots before the batteries drain, a better zoom lens so I can get objects that are further away and a stabilizer so pictures are no longer fuzzy due to movement and whereas mine can record some video footage, you can now have sound.

Sometimes when I see my images using digital zoom they look clear on the lcd screen but on here are not as good.

How Are You Doing?

Nothing much happening around here...I've done some shopping and reported missing bank cards and things like that...that's as exciting as it gets at present. That and me waiting for one my final molars to break off which to be honest I cannot understand why its taking so long.

So how about a little bit of lighthearted fun?

Perhaps this is a hoax or...perhaps not.

I first came across this by half listening to Steve Allen on LBC this morning. The question was asked or it was suggested that a song is being shared around the internet which claims to be Peter Andre and his model(?)wife Jordan/Katie Price singing a duet for their new album to be released in the future.

The idea was that just maybe some sound engineer had taken a feed of the duet before it was passed through the desk and various software available to improve the sound.

Later in the same programme this suspect clip was played in tandem with what was the duet sounding great and it was said that the on screen graph matched when compared and the vocals on both were perfectly matched when played together either though one was in tune and the other was not.

So you'll have to decide but the following links will take you to a newspaper article as seen in Australia where Peter and Jordan give their opinions on the clip that is doing the rounds and the other link will allow you to hear or download the song all for yourself.

Its on the net, its in the papers, its been on radio...

We're Not Guilty

The Evidence

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lost The TV Series...

I lost the plot ages ago because after watching the first few episodes it got away from me and I never seemed to get back to watching it. That has happened with many, many programmes in recent years.

But anyone who has followed series 1 and 2 on Channel 4 or their satellite channels, Sky had pulled off a master stroke by aquiring the rights to series 3 so unless you have Sky, you'll have to wait for the DVD release or until another station gains the rights again. Though we all know that the episodes will be available on the internet somewhere or there may be a download available on an official site.

You can post comments but after this public service announcement I will probably delete this entry...so any comments may be lost...no pun intended.

Monday, October 16, 2006

More Useless Surveys...

I'm sure that many of us have on occasions felt that our opinions are ignored and we say why does no-one ask what I think but last month I received a survey through the door from the County Council asking if anyone living in this household would take part so they could hear views about life in the local area and about issues such as Transport, Recycling and Leisure facilities.

Answers will be treated in the strictest confidence and will only be used to monitor the local authority's services. Anonymised responses will be submitted for national comparisons to the Dept for Communities and Local Government and the Audit Commission(An independent body)that monitors the performance of local government so national patterns of service can be studied.

Well considering that the first page of the survey has an address on it...they'll know who replied. If you rip the first page off there is a small number on the survey which I would bet means that they can match the number to which household responded.

Update:Ok, I had filled in the stupid survey that was sent second time around and mailed it in(but did so as though it was my Mum)she was happy with that(it also allowed us to miss out quite a few questions that were inappropriate)and we agreed any more surveys from whom ever no longer gets filled in except the Census which you cannot avoid. Because you get fined or worse if you fail to do so. This survey apart from an address only identifies the person filling in by four pieces of information(no names)Age, Sex, what you class yourself ie: white, British or whatever and address(which you are led to believe will become anonymous when data is used)Who believes that?

But even though it has been sent in...two weeks on, guess what today's mail brought?

You guessed it...another copy of the same survey with the same covering letter and just a change of the date it has to be sent back. Good to see that they are on the ball. That is definitely being ignored. And interesting that the survey though it gives the opinion that it has to be completed by a certain date, if they can send out three with dates over a period of three or four months just how long is this pointless exercise being conducted for?

And surprise, surprise the survey includes many more questions and subjects to those mentioned above and there is no provision to write added individual responses in greater detail such as why can other areas recycle cardboard and plastic milk bottles in their kerb side collection. Or any way you could talk about concerns about the town centre situation which you have seen in earlier entries.

An example of questions asked, perhaps not the best example but it gives an idea.
Please indicate whether you are satisfied or dissatisfied with each of the following elements of the local bus service(that sounds ok doesn't it)but it then continues by saying...Please answer this question whether you use the bus or not.

They then give you a list of various statements to which you have to tick a box beside each and the options are very satisfied, fairly satisfied, neither, fairly dissatisfied, very dissatisfied, it does not apply/don't know.

What good is a survey if you just tick don't know?

But equally what use is it ticking any of the others if you do not use the service? Or this year you haven't but next year you may use them often.

The survey does not make it clear how large an are you are talking about, whether its the immediate area ie:Around your few streets or the whole of the County Council area.

I forgot about the survey when it was first sent to me and missed the date to return so I thought...that would be the end of it but oh no, they written again and asked for a completed form again and it has to be with them by Friday.

It has 40 questions but nearly every question has upto ten supplementary questions that need one of 7 or 8 boxes ticked. But they say it only takes 20 minutes to fill in. My answers are not very accurate if I decide to send it in again. I am seriously thinking of ignoring it again. I know of no-one else that has received the questionnaire but the other bit that is strange is when they ask you to take part it says we feel sure that you will find it interesting.

Since when has a survey been interesting. It might be to the number crunchers who are being paid to do the analysing of the information but I doubt it will make a difference really as if others have answered like me its not accurate and much is guess work.

Update October 26th:Ok, I had filled in the stupid survey that was sent second time around and mailed it in(but did so as though it was my Mum)she was happy with that(it also allowed us to miss out quite a few questions that were inappropriate)and we agreed any more surveys from whom ever no longer gets filled in except the Census which you cannot avoid. Because you get fined or worse if you fail to do so. This survey apart from an address only identifies the person filling in by four pieces of information(no names)Age, Sex, what you class yourself ie: white, British or whatever and address(which you are led to believe will become anonymous when data is used)Who believes that?

But even though a completed survey has been sent in... guess what today's mail brought? To be filled in by November 10th.

You guessed it...another copy of the same survey with the same covering letter and just a change of the date it has to be sent back. Good to see that they are on the ball. That is definitely being ignored. And interesting that the survey though it gives the opinion that it has to be completed by a certain date, if they can send out three with dates over a period of three or four months just how long is this pointless exercise being conducted for?

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Development Continues Or Does It?

So in an earlier blog entry I mentioned that my own town is in the process of a long development of improvement? in the town centre and in particular the retail area. More changes have taken place and we've been promised by a Borough Councillor that temporary buildings are ready to be erected for essential services whilst the old buildings are demolished and new premises built for them to move into. This on top of concern that there is no physical signs of this happening.

On the other hand last week the town's free sheet ran a story suggesting that we are getting close to a time delay clause in the construction of the next big phase of the development where the contractors could in theory(pull out)but again this has been downplayed by the Councillor who in the article also says that he will take up the concerns of this article.

Now, the expansion to the Tesco's supermarket in town continues...there is noise and odd little signs that suggest the extension is taking place, there is some alteration in the times people are allowed to shop so they can get on with the work but so far I have not really seen anything that says to me its only a matter of weeks before we see it completed. Of course Tesco's will be(I assume)using their own contractors and it has nothing to do with the original plans.

Update:Another Councillor who is on the county Council has given the Town's Free sheet permission to print his findings regarding the hold up on the town's lack of progress in the town centre. It has been put down to the property developers.

15 legal agreements have been agreed and just require signatures. But as 9 of them were signed some time ago you could be excused for asking why the remaining 6 remain unsigned. The whole project will not go ahead until all is signed.

The developers is that extra money is required by the developers for a multi purpose building that is going to house a number of amenities that are important to most towns such as a Health Centre, Library, a contact point for the Council and a kind of community building where some events and refreshments are available.

An example has been given that the Health Centre will cost in excess of £600,000 more than originally estimated and its stated that some of the specifications are over and above the original requirements. They have not budgeted for this but the article suggests that they and the County Council believed the extras were already included in the costings agreed last year.

Nothing will happen until this is sorted.
Once work on the building commences a time frame of around a year is given for completion and the rest of Phase 2 approx 18 months.

However, the neighbouring town of Darlington have completed the public consultations as to whether Tesco's would be allowed to build a new branch in the centre of town near an historic church with new Town Hall and some luxury apartments and in an earlier entry I mentioned that another supermarket was interested but their proposals seem to have been kept reasonably unknown and a story broke in the local press as to how this was all being handled by the Town Council.

Whatever the latest report says that this project has been rejected publicly as has any rival proposal put forward by any other supermarket. But an actual decision will not be made by the Council until November.

It basically comes down to trying to keep some character of what Darlington is/was as much of it is being changed already with a larger part of the centre being pedestrianised, traffic being kept away and many more retailers and leisure facilities being brought into the town. As someone said in the article "This is a Market Town, so lets celebrate the fact and try and keep the market side of things alive and we already have access to four supermarkets of which some of those are already quite central to the town"

Well, many people travel out of this town for shops in Darlington so if those in Darlington really want to get to a Tesco's they may like to travel here(its only around 7 miles)but it already has so many good retailers really there is little need to travel to shop.

So this time Tesco's has not succeeded in their plans.

Now, let me say though critical of some of its practises(and I do sometimes wish that we had been allowed another retailer)there are things that they do well, I do manage to get some lovely items and a range of products that are lovely but...some years ago, I remember Sainsbury's being criticised of having empty shelves where shoppers found items missing. This is the only food store in town, most of the town and maybe visitors are using it. I can guarantee that I will return without quite a few things that I see as not that unusual, certain types of bread or even Organic Semi Skimmed Milk. And though sometimes they give a larger variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, often certain things are missing or they look poor(especially bananas) and are so near the date of sale, its not worth purchasing.

It must be hard to gauge how much stock to get in and try to avoid waste but it is disappointing. Especially, when today we are told how important a diet of fresh fruit and vegetables happens to be.

In some ways are just doing what they know how...able to run a successful retail business.

And having access to a service where your shopping is selected and delivered. They are always on time(early if anything)and rarely let me down on items that are unavailable.

How popular is the service? Well, this delivery service covers much of the North East Of England from their large retail site near Durham. They have a fleet of 10 vans and deliver approx 260 orders per day and come this next week they will be adding another 3 vans to their fleet(especially handy for Christmas)and with the new extension to the branch in my own town, they are to introduce van delivery from there.

Which hopefully will be better for us but also I assume it means that they can cover neighbouring locations and avoid long journeys and in poor weather conditions that has to be safer too. I just hope that being supplied from nearby does not reduce what is available as some of the goods via the delivery from Durham and that Tesco being very large there is greater choice than the local branch. I suppose if a delivery van drops off at a number of places and saves all the extra transport that would be on the road, it may also help the environment too.

A Disclaimer?

It may seem that not much is happening around here at the minute...Oh, I have my views and opinions on world events and I will make them known ;-) but can I beg this of any reader...especially if from another faith or culture as sometimes it can be forgotten that blogs are being read by others across the world whose own views will be affected by personal circumstances, their own faith and culture etc...

You will not always agree with me nor I with you but I do hope that you'll find that I am a person who you could work alongside, live alongside, tolerate and respect even if we beg to differ. Its lovely to agree and have an affinity but even to disagree or find another view that makes you think or possibly see things from another angle, we learn, we grow. But what is important is that even if you see things differently that if you believe yourself to be true stay true to your yourself and your faith, after all one of us must be right and we'll only know when that day comes to us all...

The trouble these days is that with so many pressure groups, political correctness, misunderstanding, legal documents, faiths and extreme organisations about so many things in our lives something said as a genuine point of discussion, a question or something said without any genuine wish to offend could result in abuse. This could also result in some blogs not being representative of the blogger because we are always looking over our shoulder in case we say something that causes an explosion of ill feeling.

In a way this is a disclaimer I suppose but is worth considering both as a writer and reader of blogs.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

An Extra Surprise For Radio Lovers! Plus More DAB News...

Do you own a Sky Receiver?

If you do and you have explored all the channels available of television and radio there is quite a choice to enjoy.

And BBC have made life easier by giving most of their radio and television stations...be they national or regional but the truly local BBC radio stations across the country still are only available via AM/FM/DAB or the internet.

However, an advantage of Sky's platform is that you can go into a certain section of the receiver's set up and add channels.

Its pretty easy and once you have followed the simple steps, its the same procedure every time.

Store the channels and you can have every ITV region so you can watch variations of programmes such as the local news programmes etc...

And tonight I discovered that BBC Radio London is on Sky's electronic programme guide if in the London area but by using the above method...I have found out that I can also access BBC Radio London via satellite so I can hear as opposed to what is available to me now and also avoid using up my internet connection.

So if others who live in the UK don't know of this...you do now! I'm wondering how long I could've been listening to and accessing BBC Radio London and what I have been missing.

I will post some links shortly to help you(and hopefully some instructions)

But here's what you need to add BBC Radio London outside of the capital because to hear it you have to access it in a slightly different way because its not on the epg nationally.

Astra 28.2° East Astra 2D Transponder 47 Frequency:10803 Polarisation:H(Horizontal) Symbol Rate 22.0 and FEC 5/6

Good Luck!

In the comments you'll see talk of the new Channel 5 television channels due for launch this coming weekend and it appears that they are on a few platforms and it looked like a delay for them joining the Sky Satellite system but a tv listings magazine suggests that they may be on Sky's system at the same time.

Also, there is a report in The Guardian newspaper of a new 24 tv news station opening again to read the article you may have to subscribe but its free. It will also be available in various other countries across the world.

French News Channel

The new 24-hour news channel funded by the French government to counter the global dominance of CNN and BBC World is to be beamed into the UK on the Sky platform.
France 24, which is set to launch at the beginning of December, has also signed up a number of UK presenters.

The news broadcaster, which will cost the French government €80m a year, will launch two channels, one in French and one in English, as well as an Arabic version online.

All television content will also be streamed over the internet.

Its executive team said today the channel would counter the dominance of "Anglo-Saxon" news by giving a French perspective on world events.

"Our goal is to present the French vision of international news, which is different to the ones of Anglo-Saxon channels such as CNN, the BBC, Fox News or to the one of al-Jazeera," said France 24's chairman, Alain de Pouzilhac.

"We want to show the diversity of the world and of its points of view. Our target is opinion-leaders around the world," he said.

DAB Update

Radio 3 decreased the quality of its digital radio broadcasts earlier this year by cutting the bitrate that it broadcast the station. Because the spectrum being used is trying to squeeze more and more stations into a space that is getting too small so some stations have to reduce the rate they give to each station or even borrow from each other where possible. Some have to be in mono.

In last evening's Radio 4 Feedback programme it was mentioned that after complaints from listeners, tests of broadcasting at a lower specification and using new technology to encode the sound by BBC Engineers, BBC director of radio and music Jenny Abramsky reversed the move and increased Radio 3's bandwidth again but will borrow extra data from Radio 3 on a when required baises to make room for Radio 5 Live spin-off Sports Extra, which broadcasts for just a few hours each week rather than losing the bitrate all the time. And that they will take some extra data from Radio 4 to help out.

Following further tests on the new encoding equipment and the reduction in the bitrate it has been decided to return to the previous arrangements which were in place for nearly four years.

An interesting article has appeared in today's Guardian Newspaper Media Section.

Other options include Digital Radio Mondial, which fills the AM spectrum and is very robust. At higher bandwidths, DRM can deliver CD-quality sound, and although no manufacturer currently builds compatible radio sets, it has already drawn some fans. Australian authorities are now reserving space for DRM broadcasting, and Ofcom has been consulting on whether it should follow suit.

South Korea, which often leads the way in technological terms, has been quick to adopt a different standard called Digital Multimedia Broadcast, which is related to DAB but also allows for video broadcasting. Its makers say it insulates the medium against future developments, rather than relying on heavy investment in several separate systems for audio and video.

There is more at this link to the Guardian Media Website(but to read it you may need to subscribe)but it is free.

DAB Radio Article

This may be a UK matter but as countries follow each other's lead or share on technical matters, it could have some consequences for broadcasters and listeners around the world.

Another Story about the alternative system to DAB as used in the UK
Interesting that this subject over a year ago was allowed to be discussed on a BBC7 messageboard, today I mention it on a BBC Radio 5 messageboard dedicated for station matters it affects Radio 5 and the whole thread is pulled. No communication or reason given. Thank heavens for blogs!

Posted by Picasa

It appears that after maybe 10 hours the message that I started was returned to the board almost intact with a link removed to the story you see a link for above...and its a newspaper that often is linked to when talking of media matters. Whoever, made the decision decided that the link was unsuitable, others in charge do not always follow the same procedure and allow more than other moderators. And as said previously whilst that was being decided on, another message saying practically the same things remained on the board without removal.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Greg Whacks His Nose

You'll know from a previous entry on my blog that the UK(and yes, some countries in Europe)and now Australia are running what are classed as quiz shows/channels where the public phone in and try to match up answers to a puzzle on screen.

Therefore, if one was allowed to survive I have to say that Quizmania which was a stand alone channel in its own right on satellite and then as a sustaining service on ITV overnight did try and at least offer some entertainment between and during games.

It has a loyal following amongst both regular callers and given the choice the occasional viewer would watch.

The explosion of such programming does mean that they all get classed the same which is probably unfair.

Some people without Freeview/satellite or cable in the UK have campaigned to get it back on mainstream ITV overnight as they dislike the quiz that replaced it. It has been reprieved in that it is back on for 6 hours during weeknights mon-fri but still is not carried on ITV1 but equally the impression is that its replacement may be changing.

So to the clip that you see here...It features Greg Scott. A person who can adlib and does very well considering that most of the time you are just asking the public for answer and moving on.

He has been and continues to do the warm up for many television programmes to get the audience into the correct frame of mind to respond when the show begins. He is a comedian, he has a big knowledge of most things to do with television and radio. And can bring up many facts. He has been in some programmes shown on national television too and come close to getting that "Hit!" that would've made him better known. There is still time.

He has also worked within radio and hosted a popular and award winning programme in the Yorkshire area on commercial radio. I suspect he is also a regular on the corporate circuit.

Before coming to Quizmania and this might be a reason why he was seen as a suitable host requiring the ability to speak for long periods of time, he worked on one of the satellite auction channels.

He has his own website for anyone who wishes to visit and read more of what he has done over the years.

Greg Scott

Greg whacks his nose !

But like all live programmes...things do go wrong and the following happened during the early hours in March I believe. I had heard about it but never seen the incident until now. What do you do when you injure yourself and you are probably the only one in the studio to present the programme. There is the unexpected shock followed by nervousness, panic but he still manages to keep going for a couple of minutes at least until VT is run and he manages to be checked out.

Basically, Greg falls over and whacks himself on the nose with the telephone receiver. I suppose I would say as with many shows that feature clips of someone being injured they are only funny once you know the person is ok. And I think this is...I hope that you do.

Do not attempt to watch unless you have access to broadband as it will take some time to download.