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Archive for July, 2009

Airports to turn away “Swine flu” Passengers

Ah-ChooDon’t you just love it – after doing absolutely nothing until it’s too late, we’re now seeing knee-jerk reactions all over the place – now it’s the airports – according to the Times, those with “headaches, sore throats and runny noses” will be refused boarding.

I can see it now “are you carrying any sharp objects?” – “No”.  “Could anyone have interfered with your luggage?” – “No”. “Have you been involved in any terrorist activities in the last 5 years?” – “No”.  “Do you have a headache?” – “Yup”.   “Officer – arrest that man!”.

This reminds me of Foot and Mouth – Maureen and I live in part of Northumberland that had foot and mouth and in the middle of it, we travelled to America – from Newcastle to London – change – London to France – change – France to Chicago.  When we got off the plane – there was a notice up in O’Hare Airport – “Passengers coming from areas affected by foot and mouth come this way” – this was entirely voluntary and therefore entirely a waste of time – but what they wanted to do was … sterilise your shoes!!!  Think about that for a moment -  surely the thing to do would have been to sterilise our shoes BEFORE we got on the plane in Newcastle, hence avoiding leaving F&M all over the floor of the plane and passing it to those passengers who DIDN’T live in an F&M area.

Similarly – despite doctors saying this new move is an UTTER WASTE OF TIME, the airlines are going to let you move around the airport – infect everyone THEN at the last minute – stop you getting on the plane – while of course letting those who were sitting, soaking wet next to you in the long-stay car park BUS and  who you’ve just infected but who are NOT showing symptoms, happily travel to the 4 corners of the earth. Even if they have infra-red scanners there is no way that’s going to do any good if you’ve JUST been infected.

Assuming I don’t cough in the airport and end up spending the summer in sleaze-‘n’-disease infected, financially-ruined Britain, I’m going to my cave in Spain, armed with my VICKS and I’m STAYING there!

Current favourites

Here, in case anyone is even remotely interested are my current favourite music videos…

Fast Tube by Casper

Fast Tube by Casper

(re: above, this track is STREETS ahead of anything else I’ve heard them do – and in the middle of the track, there’s a guy called Rudi who does a short Emminen-like piece – absolutely excellent – play loud and several times)

Fast Tube by Casper

The ODEON – The Opposite of Customer Service

As fervent cinema fans, my wife and I regularly go to the cinema.  Something about the atmosphere I like and particularly i like to settle down with my favourite snack – Nachos with Cheese and Jalapeños – pronounced hah-lah-PEHN-yo unless you’re an expert in the cinema in which case you’d pronounce them JALEEPEENOSE in a Geordie accent.

A few weeks ago we popped into the Odeon (formerly UCI) cinema in Silverlink in Wallsend and I was rather disappointed to see that they’d changed the all-important cheese sauce to something like looked a little more regurgitated and sloppier – and thinking about it – not that tasty.   This is particularly annoying because most American cinemas I’ve visited seems to have the same artificial, out-of-a-tube flavour cheese sauce whereas the UCI cinemas here always had great cheese sauce.

Anyway, the quantities were ok so though I protested internally, I didn’t bother to gripe officially, but I remember agreeing with Maureen that we’d be better off at the MetroCentre Odeon next time.

BAD mistake.  The MetroCentre for those not in the know is Gateshead’s premier shopping centre – used to be the second largest in Europe (though the supermarkets here are tiny and choice-restricted compared to say, some of the Carrefour in France or Spain) and when it opened it was a joy to behold – with sparkly new cinema, robotic policeman that talked to the kids and moved about – then it moved about, then it stopped, then they took it out.  Thinking about it most of the good new ideas they had, they took out – but that’s another matter.

Anyway, as usual I stood in the queue to be served up my snack by the highly experienced Odeon staff only to find it was training day and they had some real characters in.  As it came to my turn I ordered my Nachos with Cheese and Jalapeños and as one inexperienced hand came out to take my cash, the other handed me a pale imitation of my normal treat. Instead of a large happy looking pile of green hot delights…. there were SIX JALEPENOS.

I looked disappointedly at the sad excuse for a snack and asked politely if I could have a few more?  “Sorry sir, we’re cutting back, you’ll have to pay if you want more”.

A very CUTTING look followed by the announcement that I’d been using this cinema for several years and never seen anything so pathetic led to a swift apology and a doubling to 12 Jalapeños in swift order… but as I sat down to enjoy the film, I noticed… the cheese…. they’ve done it again – watered down plastic CRAP!!!

Most folk with any sense long ago abandoned the idea of buying obscenely expensive fizzy drinks at the cinema – instead we all go off to the shop opposite the cinema and buy obscenely expensive drinks over at the shop (to put this in perspective a can of coke at the supermarket is what, 40p or similar in a pack?  Just short of £2 at the value-for-money shop in the Metro-centre – great eh!

Well, I’ve decided they can stuff it, if they don’t care about their customers enough to feed us consistent quality, from now on I’m going to put some extra effort into finding the now elusive Doritos Cheese dip (glass jar, used to be in all supermarkets, now sadly missing from most) and bring my own supplies in TOTAL to the cinema – at tremendous saving.

ODEON – I hope you’re reading this – and the first chain to bring out an alternative to the Odeon – you’re history!

LEDS – the Greatest Scandal in Electronics Today

How not to run trains

Well, ok, perhaps that title indicates that I used to read the Sun newspaper too often in my youth.  I’m sitting on the train on the way up to Aberdeen for another FSB all-day meeting over the weekend… in the empty part of the train I might add (and you wonder why National Express gave up!) and I just happened to look up at their lighting – all brand-spanking new LED lighting (well, apart form the masses of fluorescent lights needed to make up for the fact that the LEDs don’t give sufficient light).

LEDS (Light Emitting Diodes) you may well know unless you’ve been in Africa for a while, are the lights appearing all over the place that are supposed to last 100,000 hours or 200 years depending on whether you read English or Chinese instruction. All of the lighting manufacturers seem to be as bad as each other, they all claim the led lightingsame figures, straight from the spec sheet without ever actually doing real tests…   You probably can’t see in the photo, but as you’ll find in any B&Q demo, the super-new LEDS in the train are starting to go… erm, yellowy, which usually means they are on the way out having been over-powered.  As electronics is my thing (I’ve been playing with circuits since I was a kid and have run electronics companies for years) I tend to have endless different types of LEDs floating about and I’ve tried various combinations of voltage, current, variation over time – you name it and it’s always the same – if they get too hot either constantly or intermittently – eventually the colour goes off and they start to die.  This seems to apply more to WHITE LEDs than the others.  The only ones I’ve seen that DON’T get overpowered are the garden solar lights and the reason for that is cost -  a solar panel capable of damaging a LED would cost more than the whole lamp+packaging – so they are usually drastically under-powered and that’s why most of them are useful only for decorative purposes.

So, next time you’re considering LED lighting, make sure you look at a demo that’s been running for some time before forking out your hard-earned cash! And when you decide to trade in your LCD TV for a brand new NEW LED TV – make sure it has a good guarantee!