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Take That China!
The Continuous Descent Into Madness
You've Been Cancelled
Sort Yourself Out eBayers
The Art of Not Writing
Give Me Your Voice
Not Another Virtual Choir
Demented Reality
My Way of Losing My Mind is Quite Constructive
I'm A Cilla Black Fan On Bike

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Monday, April 20

I'm always a dick when it comes to spammers

I got this:


My name is 
Vinay and I am from very reputed India based Mobile Application Development Company. Our Company conceives, develops and manages high quality applications for mobiles.

WE DEVELOP CHART TOPPING MOBILE APPS with world class UI & UX for businesses to whom mobile is equally important as web.

Our Expertise:
Ø  iOS App Development
Ø  Android App Development
Ø  Mobile App UI Design
Please get back to us to know with your Queries, Requirement & best quote in case you are interested.
I’m waiting for your reply.

Kinds Regards,
[Business Development Consultant  

So I sent this:
Hi there

How much for an app that would divest ligature modification and optimise monetary concerns with the aim of selling one million units worldwide by q4 2017?

Best and final offer only please.
Their next reply:
Hello Ashley,

Many thanks for your email. My name is Kunal, looking after the web and mobile apps development for Infoicon Technologies (P) Ltd. I'll be taking this conversation ahead.

Our Portfolio:

We are a 100+ Professional ISO 9001:2008 certified company serving only international clients from past 8 years and provide services in following vertical:

1. Web design & development.
2. Mobile apps development.
3. SEO, SMO, Online reputation management and brand management.

We have gone through your email and we are very much interested in developing the solution for iOS and Android.

Please let us know the exact scope of work so that we can derive the best solution for the same to take this ahead.
Look forward to hear from you.

Thanks and Regards,
To which I countered with:
Hi Kunal

I'll break it down for you:

divest ligature modification - in other words, where ligaturisation has been static, it needs to be reopened for delegation and alternate considerations

optimise monetary concerns with - inefficient pecuniary situations should be reconsidered for potential growth via channel multiplicity

selling one million units worldwide by q4 2017 - this is the straightforward piece - the success must be set in place for a million unit deadline October 2017, which means going live right away to push cumulative advantage.

I haven't time to waste on this. Please only reply with your best and final offer. We need to get the project live by close of April.

A couple of weeks pass
Hello Ashley,

Hope all is well. Just wondering if you can provide me an update so that we can take this to next level.

Look forward to hear from you soon.

Thanks & Regards,

So I replied
Hi Kunal,

We're now behind the deadline.

Would you be capable to work with autonomics and manifestational geometry for predictive proto-classification of intra-mural vestitudes?

I'd need the app to provide those features to the market by the close of next week. Can you give me a best and final price, please?


Wednesday, April 15

The flaming obvious

I don't like it when I'm being told the flaming obvious. I specifically don't like it when someone prepares me for a big revelation, only to follow it up with the flaming obvious or other underwhelmingness (underwhelmingness? underwhelmingitude? underwhelmery?). I think this applies across the board - no matter which aspect of my life we're dealing with, the obvious doesn't appeal to me.

Sometimes my perception of the obvious is different to others'.

I think where I find it the least satisfying is in comedy. The reason for this is that I see comedy differently as I'm both a creator of it and a fan. Like a wine afficionado is probably dissatisfied with the house red at a Little Chef, so I can't find much to adore in the obvious. It's worse, because when I choose to consume comedy, I have such high expectations of it.

Mind you, what's obvious or not worthy of the build up is, innately, relative to the build up. The point is that comedians often build you up hugely for the routine they're about to deliver.

None of this is specifically aimed at tonight's gig, by the way. Everyone, myself included, delivered a range of things from the predictable through to the oblique and I am not going to review any specifics.

In the car on the way home, listening to a podcast, I came to ponder some of my own creative decisions. I think it's fair to say that I kept one thing in my last proper Edinburgh show - Discograffiti - that I don't think worked properly ever. I kept it in because it was part of a narrative that I felt was structural, and led to some better jokes - I could have cut it. I was preserving truth over beauty... that's crap. I was not editing hard enough. There was nothing obvious about the routine, but it was obviously not that funny and slightly awkward.

Oddly, belied by the fact that the track is on the album for the show (available in all good outlets - i.e. me, and Amazon), it was entirely at the 11th hour that I bothered writing a title track for the show. Clearly a show called Discograffiti needs a song that somehow puts a bow on things and makes sense of the title and the purpose for blethering about it all. That's obvious. Not to me when I wrote the show, though.

The lesson here - obvious is in the eye of the.... well you can work out the rest (and some of the preceeding bit too).

Wednesday, April 8

The Pleasures of Two Year Olds

I don't think I expected to be as enamoured of parenthood as I am now. I thought that I'd give it a damn good go, wait until the children operated at my kind of level and grow into it eventually. I don't think I ever had a rose tinted view of what it would be like. I don't now either.

What I didn't bank on was how a developing child's behaviour and mannerisms get under your skin so much.

My daughter makes me laugh and I borrow her turn of phrase for my own amusement in the ways Ive previously mimicked TV show characters or made up my own characters with catch phrases and the like.

The most recent episode with my little girl was when I was bathing her. I had removed my shirt so as not to get it wet, leaving my not inconsiderably sized upper body on display. She pointed to my bare slab of a shoulder.

"What's THAT!?" she exclaimed, not necessarily out of fear or shock, more curiosity or even guessing game beginning. Her tone of voice would have fit the question had she seen a third elbow poking out of the back of my neck.

"It's my shoulder," I replied.

"Oh. Heads shoulders knees and toes," she said knowingly as though checking the maths. Then she pointed at my forearm. "That's your arm," she added helpfully.

It all made delightful sense at the time.

Tuesday, April 7

For Fuck's Sake HSBC Sort Yourselves Out!!!

Given the brave new world we live in where a direct complaint to the complaints department has a lower priority than a tweet or blog post, here's is a complaint about HSBC - a bank that appears to consider modern banking a low priority.

First, let me explain what I want. I'd like to be able to go to a branch and do one of two things in the following order of priority.

- Go to a machine, put in my card, insert some cash or cheques for deposit and then walk away
- Go to a cashier, give them my card, give them some cash or cheque and then walk away

The reason I want to do these things is that I'm used to being able to do them at other banks - it doesn't seem that difficult a thing to expect as a service and doesn't involve any paper other than the money or cheques. I'd prefer to use a machine as I perceive it to be quicker and easier, I'd be happy if the point of interface was a human. In the case of weekends, where there's none or minimal counter service, I'd require it of a machine.

You'd think in this day and age it would be easy.

HSBC have turned a number of their branches into machine-first operations with cashiers you can see only if you really try. In some branches they've hidden the cashiers and have on-the-floor operatives to prevent you from seeing the cashiers until you've used the machines.

HSBC machines frequently end up rejecting your deposit because something's a bit folded or crinkled or otherwise not pristine, so first you can't see a cashier and then you have to. But that's not the half of it.

How do you use the magic HSBC deposit machine. Well... it's not a machine. It's two machines. That's right you can't deposit cheques and cash in the same machine - you need different ones. Shall I repeat that? No, because we all abhor doing things twice, except HSBC who require me to visit two machines to complete one transaction if it's a mixture of cash and cheque.

Okay, so you go to two machines, put in your card and then your cash or cheque? No. That would be easy. In this twisted view of the world, you first have to fill in your paying in slip. Your paying in WHAT!? I hear you cry. Yes, a fucking paying in slip. In 2015. My god, it's like being in the dark ages. You fill in a paying in slip so that when their prissy little machine fucks it all up, they can find your lost money and work out what to do with it? But surely their machine can read your card, ask you for the amount you're depositing or even work it out from the inserted currency (cos even fucking vending machines can do that!) and sort itself out? No, it can't.

There's a Lloyd's bank across the road from my local HSBC. It's actually easier for me to go there, pay money into my old account and then use my online banking to transfer it to my HSBC account. This is even easier because the online banking provided by Lloyds isn't a total pile of shit, unlike the ridiculously security obsessed online banking provided by HSBC which has the balance of secure and usable tipped the wrong way.

HSBC - if you expect banking to be shit, then you won't be disappointed. The silly thing is this - while the bank is irritating their grass roots customers with these over-the-top security measures for the pennies, the organisation as a whole is, apparently, pissing away regulatory concerns by the bucket load.

By the way - this subject makes me so angry I'm actually seeing red. It makes no sense. If you or anyone you know can put a stop to this total asshattery, then please do. HSBC should not be operating a file-drawer-like system involving little pieces of paper and 85 different sub transactions. They shouldn't need a little micro-calculator key thingy so I can access my account. It's really beyond a joke. Please stop this nonsense before I scream or annoy my wife by banging on to her about it every time we've money to pay in!

Sunday, April 5

A handy open source alternative

Big shout out to the folks who made JSymphonic - an alternative to the Sony MP3  Walkman management software - handy as their software has its own proprietary format and they don't release the software for managing it any more.

Careful Bairns Get Nowt

There's an old Northern saying that "shy bairns get nowt" - a relative of the "don't ask, don't get" saying, no doubt.

I'm trying to put together a new one about the risk averse - hence the title of this post. It comes from experience selling on ebay. There's another aphorism regarding the 80/20 rule - the idea is that 20% of your customers create 80% of your work. That can be good if you're talking about focussing on the 20% who are most profitable. It can also be a bad thing if you're looking at customer service, where often a whinging 20% waste 80% of your time. These are not accurate statistics, but more a warning about what may happen.

So, whenever I'm selling an item on ebay I'm wary of the folks who ask loads of awkward questions about the item. Generally you worry that if they win the auction they'll probably be that 20% of customers who create 80% of the grief. I say you worry - I mean I worry. More specifically, I mean I would be worried about it if I hadn't made the following discovery.

In my experience, it turns out that the people who ask the most careful questions regarding ebay items almost never win the auction. There could be a few reasons for this:

- they may be asking questions to put themselves off
- they may just like asking questions and have no intention of buying
- they may be so careful that they dare not risk bidding more than the current next bid price
- they may be so slow to respond at the end of the auction that they're easily outbid

I take it as this. I reckon that being risk averse is pretty much a recipe for never succeeding. If all you're trying to do is prevent bad things happening, then such a defensive play cannot lend itself to scoring points.

In some ways it's good. The people who are open to risk are better at handling failure and are less likely to be arses with you if they find a flaw in the thing they've bought. I feel sorry for the risk averse - they don't know what they're missing.

Friday, April 3

It's a very connected world

Having an online presence is something I've chosen for myself. This site has been going since October 2001 - 13+ years! I had my first web page in 1995 ish - a combination of the Internet Archive not going back that far and me not remembering my old username means I can't show that page to you. Back in those days we used NCSA Mosaic and thought that Netscape was the future!

Anyway, I digress.

Things happen when you're online. Some of them are good some are not. I think fighting with occasional ebay buyers and sellers is probably a bad aspect of being online. I'm sure that someone on ebay once threatened to show up at a gig of mine and attack me. They never bothered - or if they did I didn't realise if it was them or not. I'm not even entirely sure that the time I chose to get my money's worth out of an ebay seller who had poorly packed their item from the states, causing the disc to snap (it was sent out of its box) and had even made the postage using something like 1 cent stamps, and then refused to give me a refund, was time well spent - I basically entered into a slanging match with him which brought out his most racist and my most sanctimonious sides.

One new thing about being online is the presence of online PR folks. They constantly Google themselves - they probably have Google Alerts set up in fairness - to see if there's any bad stuff about them and then, if there is, they spring into action.

In recent events, I was contacted by a company whom I mentioned negatively. They were very nice about how poorly I'd received their product and sent me more of it to see if that would sway my opinion. That's quite impressive, given that nobody reads this blog except me and now this PR person and perhaps you, unless you're me or the PR person, in which case, you don't count - or at least you do, but you're already counted.

That's the modern world. One's online presence is weirdly blurred with one's real presence.

It's a shame I lost my original site. I should try to find it again.

Thursday, April 2

My Gravestone

Should this ever be necessary, please feel free to erect it. It clearly describes my greatest failure and yet one of the things about myself I feel least inclined to change. Perhaps I can and do do diplomacy, especially with those people I feel responsible for, but when it comes to those I come face to face with... well, let's just say that I stop talking when I realise I've gone too far.

I have visions of being the subject of a violent attack and, rather than fighting back physically, or doing whatever it takes to somehow endure the ordeal until its nearest conclusion, I'd end up continuously saying the wrong thing - provoking the aggressor more and more. I can't imagine myself sitting down and taking it. Put simply, the idea that I could bite my tongue and just Let It Go (that's a royalty to Disney, I suppose) just doesn't compute for me - even though I know that often the best thing to do is shut up and wait.

Where this goes the most horribly wrong is when I'm faced with equally outspoken people. Such conversations have no natural end.

I am not an alpha male, but I'm an alpha speaker. This is probably a good reason that I've chosen to put my instincts to good use on the stand-up stage. It's a lot better when my run-away-gob results in an audience laughing, rather than a frenzied knife attack. I'm yet to be the subject of the latter, though I'm quite clumsy with DIY tools, so I may still experience it even when on my own.

Where I'm really going to have to watch out with my unchecked mouth is around my children. I can't help myself from coming out with things which amuse me to say, even if they're a little subversive. My daughter has learned a new verse today of her favourite song - we now sing "The bottoms on the bus..." I'll leave it there, shall I?

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