Archive for The Blog

Watching the Con-Men at work selling fake / counterfeit goods

I got a flyer through the post yesterday (Sat 28th Jan 2012) advertising a cheap electrical goods sale at the Irish Centre in Reading, Berkshire today Sunday the 29th. It was £2 entry, but I thought I’d take a look. It was apparently end of line / sale or return goods from Agros, Woolworths & Freemans.

I’m quite wise to “cons” & “frauds”, habit of a previous career, so from the flyer alone it seemed dodgy, but I thought out of curiosity I’d take a look.

So, now back home from this alleged “Cheap Electronics Sale”, it was crazy, people handing over notes for bits of card which were later exchanged for plastic bags that contained boxes heavily wrapped in black parcel tape.
The guy selling was all talk and sales patter, getting most the room to exchange £10 very early on for boxes of perfume which you needed to wave in the air to buy later items.

They had empty boxed PSP’s, iPads, iPod Shuffles, Nintendo Wii’s & cameras at the start on the display, all these went from view once “sold” and would be handed out later!
He kept engaging the audience of about 50 or so people, would talk about a product or offer, put it on the table, get the cash from those that accepted this ‘discounted price’, the items were then removed from view, to be handed out later (in the unmarked, heavily sealed boxes).
He managed to get a group of Indian lads to each pay £95 for unbranded camcorders. They also had this thing called a WeeGamer which the guy passed off at the new Nintendo Wii device not out til Easter and the new iPhone 5 which was apparently called the MP5 player and was in an Apple iPhone type box with the device pictured on the front.

They almost didn’t let me in because the guy didn’t like the look of me and asked if I was alone, til I told him I was with the mum & son infront of me in the queue. Towards the end when they started handing out stuff from the earlier sales one woman took three boxes off her fella who’d shelled out atleast £50… went to the back of the room and attacked the boxes with her car keys to find a microphone, some cheap looking watches and an unbranded crap electric razor, I looked over and she was sat there, head in her hands.

I managed to get about 5 mins recorded on the phone, but it was difficult with the orange light that comes on when recording with my Nokia and the 5 or 6 guys who were shuffling round the crowd plucking £10’s and £20’s out of peoples hands kept staring at me, they knew I wasn’t there to buy.

The event was brought to a close, the organisers were handing out sealed boxes in blue & green plastic bags and declared the hall was in use directly after the sale by a childrens party and we all had to leave.

I was talking to the Indian lads outside after and told them they’d been conned, one of the organisers saw me and shouted over “talking to ya mates are you”  I spoke back to him and asked him how he felt about being a Con-Man and selling fake / counterfeit / mis-selling goods.  He just said “so what, if they’re greedy enough to want to spend the money, then it’s their own fault…  and yeh I’m not disagreeing with you, they’re fakes, so what!”  At that point 3 or 4 of the large lads who’d been encouraging people to buy and taking money inside came to the door, so I made a sharp exit.

Other than the entry fee, I didn’t pay a penny, I knew the goods were fake and I would warn anyone to stay away from this sort of thing. The age old saying “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is!”

I still have the flyer for anyone interested in reporting / investigating this & wants a copy.

Flyer I received advertising the Electrical Sale 29th Jan Reading

Is the film industry self imploding

As with alot of people in the UK, I’m a big fan of both Music & Film.
I don’t have a particular taste or style, I just see or hear something that catches my ear / eye, find out what it is, then if I like it, it gets added to my collection.

My History with Music…
Back in my mid-teens (around the mid 90’s) I started DJ’ing and when I was 16, got a Job out of school, was still living at home, had a fair amount of disposable income and I religiously went to HMV on a Monday after work and brought up all that week’s new release singles. I did this every week for about 4 years until I discovered downloading on the Internet via a peer-2-peer service (early days of Napster I recall) and started getting music illegally, because it made sense to try before I brought music instead of spending £30 to £40 a week buying new CD Singles. So I’d download singles, burn them to CD and bands where I found I liked more than 2 singles I’d go buy the Album… so I was teetering on the grey area of legality, though in my mind at the time I had 6 flight cases of CD singles in my parents loft, worth several hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds, so had paid some dues to the Record Companies.

Then along came Mini-Disc players, which I discovered some time in the late 90’s and this meant I no longer had to burn CD’s but could drop the MP3’s onto the device attached to my home PC, my first Mini-Disc player was a Blue Technics player. It looked nice but skipped if it had any kind of movement, this was followed by Sony’s, which were smaller, ran of AA Batteries and were relatively Shock-Proof.

Then the MP3 player, which I probably first owned around the Mid 2000’s. I pretty much gave up buying CD’s, downloaded alot and over the next few years massed something like 40GB of music.

Then along came Spotify…. I first signed up to Spotify in October 2009 as a Premium Subscriber. The appeal for me, was the choice / selection of music, the ability to stream on both PC & Mobile and that it meant I no longer had to store my music collection. One of the biggest annoyances is downloading an album then finding you only like one or two tracks, but with Spotify I can stream / preview an album then choose which tracks I want to add to my playlists. In total now, I have about 6000 tracks in playlists of various genres and with the latest releases of Spotify and rise of popular SharePlaylist sites you can find new music and easily put together lists for any occasion with ease.
For me, Spotify is the perfect Music on demand service that works on all my devices including Windows Laptop, Android Tablet, Squeezebox Players and mobile devices (though mobile is a sore-point as Spotify are yet to develop for Symbian Anna on my Nokia E6, so I’m thinking of jumping to a Blackberry 9900, but anyway). Some people like having a Physical CD or even MP3 but Spotify gives me Music on-demand anywhere both online & offline and at £9.99 a month it’s a service I recommend.

Now… The Movies.
I am becoming more and more frustrated with the lack of available Movie Services and those that do exist are fairly Poor. As far as I am aware, at the time of writing this blog towards the end of Jan 2012, the only 2 subscription services available in the UK are NetFlix and LOVEFiLM.
The number of browser based illegal movie streaming services is ever growing and all I want is a good, legal, on-demand service which I’ll happily pay up to £20 a month for, that is comparable to DVD Rental Services. There are some other Stream services such as BlinkBox and HMV OnDemand but you rent per movie and I want a single subscription service. So the two options:
NetFlix – the Price Point of £5.99 seems fair, but the selection of new material isn’t great. If you are looking for 90’s and some 00’s British TV Series (and a handful of less popular US series) and will settle from good 90’s and early 00’s with a limited number of films from the last 2 years then your fine. But it seems the UK got the short end of the stick on choice and the US version of Netflix has alot more new material.
LOVEFiLM – the Price Point of £9.99 is Ok, which is their mid-level where you get to use both their DVD / BlueRay rental service and Unlimited Streaming service, though as I discovered it’s not unlimited and some titles are Pay per View! At the time of writing this Blog LOVEFiLM have 6414 films available for Streaming, of which 5361 are inclusive & 1008 are Pay Per View! A alot of this is new content costing between £2.49 and £3.49 per film! Now if I pay for a service I expect to use a Service, I don’t expect to have to shell out more money just because LOVEFiLM deem that it’ll be popular so will try and take whatever they can get!! I would never find that on Spotify where I pay £9.99 a month for unlimited listening and find that a popular artist releases a new album that I then have to pay extra to listen to, and this isn’t even owning the movie it’s Renting it! It’s Pathetic and in my opinion encourages Movie Piracy.

I was watching BBC Click on the weekend from the CES show in Vegas, where they were talking about Movie On-Demand streaming and the feedback from the reporter was the Movie Industry dislikes the streaming subscription model because it doesn’t generate as much revenue as Cinema, Rentals and Purchases. I think it’s narrow-minded, greedy and by preventing the distribution of their product to willing consumers, their industry deep pockets will develop even bigger holes and Piracy will be wider and more accessible. At Cinema costing £9 upwards for a standard seat, the cost of Rentals being high for low quality content and their being no good avenue getting movies into peoples homes on-demand regardless of price, it’s just making the little chinese man in the pubs job easier (not a racist comment, but ever person approaching me in a London pub selling DVDs has been Chinese, or maybe Japanese or Korean!) and the availability of illegal movie streaming or torrent sites more appealing.

So Film Industry, take your greedy thumb out of your Ass, follow the Spotify Model and give the consumer the services we can already get illegally in a legal way, for which people will happily pay for good quality, easily accessible movies & content.

The new blog…

Well, after thinking about it, then blogging about it, I thought I’d make the jump from Google blooger to WordPress!


The idea is more space, more choice, I can run a blog and a review page and ultimately more freedom than a single page blog!  We shall see…

Motivation to Blog and Me

We’re in the first week of 2012 and while thinking about what I might try to do to kick this year off (yes I know we’re already at the end of the first week and I’m a little behind with New Years resolutions), considering half of those who were sad enough to follow the traditional of resolutions decided theirs at about 2am on the 1st of January while drunk…  or while pondering what to do with themselves while off work on the week between Xmas and New Years… and they’ve already fallen back into bad habits, of smoking, drinking too much, eating too much or continuing their OCD habit of 2011.

Well… I did have this “good idea at the time” idea about starting this blog in the 2nd half of last year and it got off rather too well with a couple of longish blogs about topical subjects, then kinda fell on it’s face. Like I harp on about in my first blog, about blogging, and the fact that I am quite opinionated (you only need to see my twitter feed) but actually sitting down and writing something of more than 500 words that I thought was worth reading always seemed a bit of a chore and the sort of thing “I’d get to later”, like the washing-up.
I did start with the idea of having a notepad in my bag for jotting down ideas of things I’d seen or heard, to refer to later when I actually wanted to blog, but that turned more into something I either doodled in, tore out pages from because I have no post-its on my desk or just got forgotten about like the 2012 diary you were given as a xmas present from a relative you hardly ever see, but they feel obliged to buy something and you always get that thing you never really needed or wanted. In this digital age we just use Google calendar or the one attached to Outlook on your work computer and the best I can hope for in a paper calendar is a bearable photo frame for the kitchen that changes once a month.

So, yes getting back into the blogging idea was my 2012 thing to let off some steam, air my views, actually make use of this little area I signed up for and brought the domain name for…  though even without the blog I do like having my own domain name and makes me a feel a little smug when you’re in a shop and they tediously try and sign you up to a subscription list for a discount, which you know will save you a couple of quid on your shop and you might benefit from offers, but you don’t want the spam! and they ask for your name…  and I say 50 Percent (and they say O…K), then they ask for your email and I can say  (as yes that mail address does exist, I dare you try it!  I just use it when required and when I actually remember it, though to be honest it shouldn’t be difficult to forget)

So, this time round I think I might go with the more reactive approach of while mooching on with day-2-day stuff and where I might normally take the odd pic and/or write the 140 character tweet, that I actually take that 10mins extra and blog a bit more about it.

When trying to think in which tone to write a blog, it’s interesting how you watch some comedians make the most mundane things seem funny (well funny enough for someone else to laugh at anyway) there’s Comedians who I think are funny, those who I think are both funny and clever then the rest who are just down-right annoying and I change the channel the minute they come on, which is probably the same for a lot of people in the public eye, depending on your taste and tolerance. But alot of people that are interesting, skilled & talentless, have made money from publishing their life online. A number of YouTube bloggers make alot of money offering their opinions on subjects & news and attract a million or so followers, others who write in Newspaper columns or those that star in the reality TV fad of 2011, the Essex / Chelsea crap which I have only stumbled across while channel hopping and immediately change, because the cast are both talentless, pretentious, often quite thick and how they enhance anyone’s life is beyond me, I can only imagine you can watch it and think “thank f*ck that isn’t me…”  though I’d happily take the cash.

So, this is 2012, we’re the first week in. I haven’t done a great deal to shout about, but work has been busy, I’ve managed a decent night out in Reading, I’ve contemplated visiting the cinema (which I haven’t done in ages, but just looking at the price shocked me! £9 a standard ticket! but that might be for another blog). I changed the format of the blog from an Orange thing to a Black thing.  What I need to work out is how I get tabs on the main page and then how to manage the tabs so I can run different pages and if I need to somehow run 2 blogs…  so if anyone has any tips or advice, please comment, tweet or email me.   I do like my tech and gadgets, but I’m not that in tune with writing code, I prefer to scour around and find someone else who has done it, then where required adapt it for my own…  (cheeky I know, but then that’s what Apple did when they built their IOS off a Linux Kernel!  lol)

Signing off for this blog, if you know an easy way to run multiple tabbed pages drop me a line, or if you have anything you want my opinion on or ideas future blog topics about then let me know.