Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Windows Vista launched, yawn!

Today is the launch day of Windows Vista to the domestic market - it has been available to businesses for two months already.

Does anyone need it? Not really. Have I tried it? Yes. Have I upgraded? No chance!!

The way I view the evolution of windows is that under Windows XP most PCs are now more than fast enough. People can surf the web and do word processing. Most people have a PC of some form.

That means Microsoft and PC makers have got their money from the customers and the customers are now happy at home using their PC and software. This is the problem.

Microsoft has to add better graphics to the user interface so it looks slow on your existing PC. Then you go and buy a new PC with enough grunt to make Vista look fast. They have to persuade you the new Windows is better and you have to have it so they continue making money. But you don't!!

Let's look at this upgrade process realistically. Yeah Vista may only (cough) be £250, but then half your peripherals and expansion cards stop working. You replace the problem hardware with Vista compatible versions. Then half your software is not compatible. You have to buy different software to do the same job - and have to spend time learning how it works. You also have to spend time learning how to tweak and use Vista. Now you are back to where you were, running Vista and able to do everything you used to do. Except your PC responds much slower. Then you shell out to expand your PC - a bit more memory. That speeds it up a bit until you can afford a brand new machine.

Before upgrading be aware of the total cost - it ain't just the Vista license. Ask yourself what have I wanted to do on my computer that I can't do at the moment yet I will be able to do if I upgrade? Is the benefit worth the financial cost and upheaval? The only answer I can find to this is a few bouncy icons. So what?

The security improvements will keep out the current type of viruses but wait a couple of months and there will be viruses for Vista. Also watch that the improvements in Vista may require you to subscribe (yes monthly cost for ever) to Windows Live. Lastly how come a Vista license in the UK costs twice the US price??


Update: See A lawyers view of the Vista T&Cs and Vista security claim challenged.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Humour: The new husband store.

A store that sells new husbands has just opened in New York City, where a woman may go to choose a new husband. At the entrance is a description of how the store operates:

You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors and the value of the products increase as the shopper ascends the flights. The shopper may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up tothe next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband.

On the first floor the sign on the door reads: "Floor 1 - These men Have Jobs."

The second floor sign reads:"Floor 2 - These men Have Jobs and Love Kids."

The third floor sign reads:"Floor 3 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids and are Drop-dead Gorgeous."

"Wow," she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the fourth floor and the sign reads:"Floor 4 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous and Help With Housework."

"Oh, mercy me!" she exclaims, "I can hardly stand it!"

Still, she goes to the fifth floor and the sign reads:"Floor 5 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, Help with housework and Have a Strong Romantic Streak."

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor and the sign reads: "Floor 6 - You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the New Husband Store."

To avoid gender bias accusations, the store's owner also opens a New Wives' store just across the street..........

The first floor has wives that love sex.

The second floor has wives that love sex and have money.

The third through sixth floors have never been visited.

Obesity - a public health timebomb

Obesity can be defined as "The condition of being overweight", or more specifically "having excessive storage of fat in the body".

A simple way to decide if one is obese is by working out your body mass index or BMI. This is your weight in kg divided by your height in metres squared (multiplied by itself eg if one is 1.7m, 1.7 x 1.7 = 2.89). A BMI of 20-25 is desireable, 25-30 is overweight and 30 upwards is considered obese or worse. This is only accurate for people of normal muscularity. Most rugby players would be obese under these calculations due to their strong bodies - muscle is heavier than fat.

Obesity can cause many health problems. These include:

  • hypertension (or high blood pressure)
  • type 2 diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • gallbladder disease
  • certain types of cancer and
  • psychosocial problems

According to government HSE figures in 2003, 35% of men had a BMI of desireable or underwight. 43% were overwight and the remaining 22% were classed as obese. For women the equivalent figures were 44% desireable or underweight, 33% overweight and 23% obese. To simplify this 1 in every 4 of the population were obese in 2003.

What makes this more alarming is the rate of increase. One study I found shows that obesity in Americans had risen from 12% in 1991 to 18% in 1998. This is a 50% increase. The data in my previous paragraph puts present UK obesity at 22%. This proportion is rising at a serious rate and some action needs to be taken to control it.

The first step I would propose is educating people. One's fat creeps on slowly and most obese people probably don't realise how serious the situation is. GPs should bring the subject up when they see patients about other issues. I know some GPs do this at present.

The cause of the increase is obvious. With more TV channels and the popularity of video games today's children are less active. Teenagers are mouse potatos (too much time at a computer) or coach potatos (too much time watching TV). Also the rise in popularity of fast food (pizza and burgers) and microwave ready meals consumed by a population that are working longer hours and have less time to prepare healthy meals. This hard working population also get home later so have less time for physical recreation, relaxation and hobbies.

Once a person decides to tackle their own obesity there are two paths of action. One is to diet or consume less calories. Also the amount of calories from fat should be watched as fat in foods is very hard to convert to energy compared to carbohydrates and protein. I will discuss food composition in another article later. The main failure of people trying to diet is to allow themselves a 'treat' whenever they fancy. No treats until you have achieved some target! Otherwise you will still eat as much chocolate and cake as before which means you are not actually on a diet!

The second is to exercise to burn off calories. Any exercise is better than none. People who don't exercise often say they don't because they don't enjoy it. To this I say keep trying different activities in different places. I wouldn't enjoy jogging on a cold winter evening along city centre streets. Visit the gyms and health clubs in your area to find one with an atmosphere you like. Consider using some form of personal stereo when exercising - listening to lively music can help motivate you and relieve bordom. Most gyms have televisions so you can ride an exercise bike slowly for 30 minutes while you enjoy Coronation Street. Consider getting a pet dog. They are great companions and will remind you each day when its time for a walk! After a few weeks using a gym I guarantee you will feel much better in yourself. I love the buzz I feel after a thorough session. Did you know if you use weights in the gym to increase your muscle size you will actually burn more calories at times when you are inactive?

Talk to your friends about what they enjoy and ask if you can join them next time.

Dieting is not a substitute for exercise and vice versa. These two are not short term changes that you can do for 6 months to loose weight then get back to normal. Permanent changes need to be made to keep you healthy. Loosing weight takes a long time so don't give up if you havn't seen results in the first few weeks.

I don't recommend any of these 'fad diets', the most famous of which was the recent Atkin's diet. While most professionals will agree they work to some extent it is argued that it is not natural to starve your body of carbohydrates. It's odd that Dr Atkins was rushed to hospital in April 2002 with an unexplained cardiac arrest. The only scientificly recommended way is less calories, more exercise.

One idea for the government to tackle this issue and encourage more activity within the population would be to subsidise the up-market health clubs. How about some form of tax relief on gym membership subscriptions??


Friday, January 19, 2007

Gordon Brown part 2

Someone please fire this prat now.

Education is his number one focus for the future of the country. Why has he just introduced policies to charge students for their own higher education??

This is a great new 'Green tax' on any airline ticket, regardless of whether the plane churns out loads of harmful gases or are run on pedal power. And his justification for the tax? So he can re-invest the money in public transport. Errrr are aeroplanes not public transport??

Another one of his goals is to make everyone richer. He ain't got a good track record on this one. According to a new report from the Office of National Statistics, the cost of living is at an all-time high.


Religion and Racism

Political correctness really has gone too far.

Due to insignificant comments on a crap reality series there is a huge political storm blowing about racism at the moment. From what I have heard of the matter it seems some housemates on Celebrity Big Brother disliked one of the other housemates. Now if it were not for the bitching, back stabbing and mini cliques why would anyone watch Big Brother? That is the whole attraction of the format. Is it not human nature that if you fall out with someone you will slag them off in some way? If the comments had been about hair colour or body fat it would be OK. But because its about this persons place of birth its an outrage. Also since when has Jade Goody been a spokesperson for this country's policies on anything?

To the people who complained about it - get a life. If you are so sensitive you should be more selective of what you watch on TV. I'd recommend you avoid kids TV cos sometimes they show a cartoon where a cat chases a poor little mouse.

What next? If one of the news readers is wearing a dress with a pattern I don't like can I complain? Will it be debated in the House of Commons?

To me the issue here is that these people have someone to complain to. Their complaint should be filed in the round draw marked Trash under someone's desk where it belongs.

We had a similar situation a few months back about a cartoon published in a newspaper. Can these people not just think, 'Crap newspaper' or 'That Jade is thick' and get on with their lives? It's a really good job everyone isn't that sensitive. Imagine the trouble every time a comedian told a joke about the scouse or the welsh?

If the british government introduced a policy to ban black people from our schools and cities they would have something to protest about. This really is out of control and someone needs to slap them into order. (My blog might be on the news tonight for inciting racist violence hehe).

While I'm on the subject, how come it is legal to have an equal opportunities policy that states a company should employ 10% of workers from a minority ethnic background? I have heard of numerous cases where HR managers would insist more black people are recruited to balance the proportion. So 2 people are at an interview and the black one gets the job because the company does not employ enough black people at the moment. That is the definition of racism to me - chosing someone over someone else because of their ethnic background. Hell even counting the ethnic background of all staff is racist.


Monday, January 15, 2007


Kylie had to pull out of one of her Manchester concerts mid-performance due to ill health.

My thoughts are with Kylie at the moment.

I really hope she only has the flu or a normal chill and will be back to herself in a few days.

No-one can imagine what she has been through with all her cancer treatment. She was diagnosed in May, but was not allowed home the following christmas because she was still having treatment.

After such debilitating treatment it is amazing that she has made the public comeback she did manage. At the moment she is probably realising the permanent effects of her illness. I suspect she has pushed herself so hard to complete this tour to prove to herself she is back to normal. Having to pull out must be heart-breaking.

Someone needs to tell her she can't do things like this - public acts at the peak of fitness complain on behind-the-scenes films of how tough it is touring. After her disease she needs to relax and take care of herself. I don't think there is one fan that wants her to push herself so hard she suffers more health problems.

From her beginnings in music as a squeaky actor who couldn't sing without the help of Stock, Aitkin and Waterman voice processing she has come a long way and the songs she has realeased over the last few years have been really good. She has proved herself as a real musical talent and superstar and should sit back and take stock of what she has done.

Kylie, we will always have the songs you've recorded so far. Relax and look after yourself.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Gordon Brown.

Tony Blair is due to resign soon. This means the country has to have a new Prime Minister. I am really worried that will be Mr Brown.

At the next General Election, who my local politician is and how good or bad a track record they have is pretty irrelevant. We are voting for who gets to live in No 10 and run the country.

To state my stance on this politically, I used to support the Conservatives. However there was no way I would elect William Hague or Michael Howard to office. I have voted Labour a couple of times and must say I have been relatively impressed with Tony Blair.

Internationally he is someone I am almost proud to have representing the country. He has a personality and charisma about him. He has built a lot of bridges and has been the face of reason. How he managed not to enter a slanging match when the French wanted to abolish our European rebate is a mircale. While he does not yet carry much weight in America I agree with his policy of supporting the Americans over the EU.

On the subject of the EU I shudder at half the legislation we get pushed upon us by being within the EU. For example some criminals who are proved guilty beyond any doubt but get released due to a lack of common sense being applied in courts in respect of EU laws etc. We are one of the most advanced and developed countries in the EU. Most of the countries in the EU are governed so differently to us (Ie Socialism vs Capitalism) I believe being in the EU is damaging us and we should consider pulling out of membership completely. We seem to benefit little from it financially or otherwise, and I see no reason why we couldn't form a free trade agreement with Europe should we withdraw from it. Our MPs should debate all legislation and implement only that which is in our best interests.

Back at home, the guy brought in all hours drinking. I've raised a few glasses to that one. He has also fought for equality for all which I support. I recall the Conservatives opposed both of these.

So what has he failed on?

Pensions? This is because a certain chancellor started taxing pension funds. Wonder why there is no money left in them?

Council Tax? Rises have been well above inflation yet services have remained pretty static.

Railways? Ticket prices are ridiculous and the service is not improving to meet demand.

NHS? Most trusts are in debt and cuts are being made.

Admitted to date inflation has been low, but all the above are to do with failings to finance and manage departments financially. Isn't the Chancellor of the Exchequer to blame for that? Thanks Gordon.

Do we really want this guy to screw up everything else? I think he is a has-been. Everytime he speaks in public he comes across as Moses - this is my decision, it's set in stone and all shall follow. He admits openly he will do things differently to Tony. God help us if he gets the job of Prime Minister.

Tony - will you stay in office for a couple more years?? Please? Failing that I will think seriously about Mr Cameron.