Monday, February 14, 2011

The UK is screwed - Eplained in simple terms

I like to think I'm an optimist, always able to turn a negative into a positive, every cloud has a silver lining. However, when it comes to the financial mess that the UK is in following 13 years of Labour rule, I feel distinctly gloomy.

Before we can address the issue, we need to get a clear understanding of the problem. So lets start with some simple facts for the 2011/2012 tax year and explain debt and deficit:

Government income - £550bn
Government spending - £700bn
Government Debt - £900bn

So what can clearly be seen is that we are spending more than we earn. This shortfall is the deficit, currently around £150bn a year. Our debt is £900bn and grows each year by the deficit amount.

It is predicted that even with the government cuts the debt will have grown to £1,300bn by the end of the current parliament.

The numbers speak for themselves and the scale of the problem is truly mind blowing!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blue Men Group Featuring Venus Hum

Most of you will remember the blue from the Intel processor adverts, as well as appearing in adverts they are an incredibly talented group of musicians as well. This video clip will give you an idea of just how talented they are, its my all time favorite cover of version of Donna Summers "I Feel Love", featuring the equally amazing Venus Hum on vocals. Turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Not Everyone Likes the iPad

Here we go, another new product from Apple - but will it live up to the hype? It certainly looks good and with the success of the iPhone to build on the reputation is already there. But does it perform? I've not been lucky enough to get my hands on one to try it out, but from what I've read it seems to be lacking in some basic functionallity. Watch the video below to see what Hilter thinks of the new iPad.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mean Time Machine - The Corpus Clock & Chronophage

Invented and designed by Dr John Taylor for Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, this amazing clock cost £1 million to build. It was unveiled by Professor Stephen Hawkings and takes pride of place on the exterior of the college's new library building.

It uses the 'grasshopper' escapement, but instead of a grasshopper it features a Chronophage, a mean looking time eating creature that devours 60 seconds every minute. The clock's face is made from 1.5 metre stainless steel disk plated in 24 carat gold. There are no hands on this clock, the time is displayed by light shining through openings in three concrenttic rings in the clock face that display the hours, minutes and seconds.

If you are visiting Cambridge then seeing this clock is a must! For more information, visit the Corpus Clock Website or the entry on Wikipedia.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Matrix Runs on Windows

The new and improved Windows 7 has now been unleashed on us, so we wondered what the Matrix would be like if it ran on Windows. Well, it turns out we were not the only ones to ponder that very question - the guys and girls over college humour have put together a fantasic spoof of the Matrix running on Windows.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Can't Sell, Wont Sell

Earlier in the year we decided that we would sell our house and move to something a bit bigger. Even though there were concerns about the state of the housing market we decided to go ahead and put our house on the market. Seven months later and after countless viewings we gave up. It's not that we didn't have interest in the property, we had offers on the property that we would have accepted, except for the fact that those offers came from people who couldn't sell their own houses...

So what went wrong? The house is in a very nice area of a very nice town. It's a modern house in excellent condition. The decor is neutral, the garden is well kept and it has plenty of parking. Two years ago the demand for houses in our street was so high we had letters from estate agents every week asking if we wanted to sell. We even had people knocking on our door asking if we wanted to sell!

So what did go wrong? The first time buyers disappeared overnight,that's what the problem is. Without first time buyers the whole houseing market grinds to a halt. The sudden lack of cheap mortgages due to the credit crunch combined with lots of negative press about the housing market meant that first time buyers either couldn't buy or were scared off for fear of buying at the peak just before a crash.

What happens now? Fortunately for us there is another option, we can extend our current house. We have been looking at loft conversions a while and have decided to convert the loft and extend outwards with an extension to the kitchen.

And it seems we are not the only ones, all of the builders we have spoken to are very busy at the moment. Taking our house off the market was a huge relief, the constant viewings quickly become a chore and were taking up too much of our spare time.

It's a great feeling knowing that we are now in control of our destiny again, it would have cost us around £15,000 to move with all of the taxes and fees, that money can now go towards improving our existing house. Our loft will convert into a great size bedroom and with four velux windows will have a nice light and airy feel to it.

My advice to anyone looking to move home is to wait until the market improves, it's not so much the prices that is the problem, we dropped our asking price several times, it's the lack of liquidity in the market that makes it so difficult to move.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Great Global Warming Swindle - lucky escape

A Channel 4 film titled "The Great Global Warming Swindle" broke Ofcom rules, the media regulator says.

The film caused an uproar when it was released as it attempted to show that global warming is not man made. The way in which they did this was nothing short of disgusting, they misquoted the former UK chief scientific advisor Sir David King and took comments from Carl Wunsch out of context.

Carl Wunsch said the programme turned out to be "an out-and-out propaganda piece, in which there is not even a gesture toward balance".

Such was the outrage at the film Ofcom recieved 265 complaints and one group submitted a 176 page document alleging 137 breaches of the Broadcasting code.

Ofcom stated "The ruling noted that Channel 4 had admitted errors in the graphs and data used in the programme..." Many believe that Ofcom let Channel 4 off lightly with its ruling and should have taken a harder stance. I think it enough that the film has been exposed for the misleading piece of cheap propaganda that it is.

You can find out more by reading this BBC article.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Speed Cameras - how to defeat the GATSO

For the UK motorist there are many dangers when out on the roads. Some of these dangers put your life and your car at risk, others are putting your money and licence at risk - speed cameras (some call them GATSO's but I prefer to call them scameras). They are like yellow metal triffids spitting out fines at the unwary, unwise or unlucky motorists. You may be surprised to hear that there is a way to fight back and purge our roads of these yellow monsters!

Before I go on to explain how we can beat the GATSO I really should explain a little about speeding. Now it's fairly obvious to all that inappropriate speed can be a very dangerous thing. For example, who would argue that driving at 80mph past a school is just downright dangerous and stupid. Or that driving at 80mph on the motorway in the pouring rain while only inches from the car in front is also just plain stupid. But how about a road that has for many years had a 40mph limit which then changes down to a 30mph limit with no signs warning of the new limit? Is it fair to place a scamera on this road? How does that help road safety? Take a look at this site for some examples of unfair speed cameras.

So lets get to the best part, how do we beat the scameras? Well, lets start by explaining what this system doesn't do. It doesn't involve direct and illegal actions such as those taken by Motorists Against Detection (MAD) and their leader 'Captain Gatso'. While I don't agree with their approach I can certainly understand the reasons why they are taking direct action. You can read more about them in this Guardian article.

So how about a perfectly legal way to beat the scameras? Firstly, we need to make an assumption - that if the scameras run at a loss and no one breaks the speed limits there will be no need for them and they will quickly disapear. There was a clue in that last sentence - "no one breaks the speed limit". It's such a simple and elegant solution to the problem I'm amazed that it hasn't already happened. All we need is for everyone to stick to the speed limits, I mean how hard can it be? I've been driving for 18 years and never had a speeding ticket, so if I can do it then I'm sure everyone else can too. The scamera partnerships would soon be running at a loss and would be quickly scrapped once they no longer bring in the cash. Lets look at the figures for 2003-2004 obtained under the Freedom Of Information act. In that year they received £112.2m from fines and had £91.8m costs. That's a profit, sorry 'balance' of £20.4m. I reckon that of we could reduce the amount of fines given out by 75% it would be enough to tip the balance and that they would make a loss rather than a profit - and then bingo! bye bye to the speed cameras.

So just to recap, keep it safe, be aware of the speed limit and lets stop giving our money to these modern day highway robbers!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Eddie Nestor - Back on air

I've been working late for the last week so this isn't exactly breaking news - Eddie is back on air and sounding better than ever. See my previous post Eddie Nestor Cancer Shock for the reason why he had been away. That man just seems to have never ending reserves of endurance, I bet he would have done well in the marathon given the chance. I've not heard him discuss any of the details of his cancer while on air (but I haven't had a chance to listen much lately) so for the moment I'm going to assume that he wants to keep it private, I'll respect that and I won't post any more on the subject unless Eddie talks about it on air.

So anyway, it's great to have him back on air, Kath is fantastic on air but with half of the team away (that's Eddie) it's never quite the same.

A subject that often seems to come up on their radio show (BBC London Radio) is the London Olympics. As I live in a London borough and having paid a contribution towards the cost of it I have some strong views about the games, but it's long rant so I'll save it for the next post.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Eddie Nestor cancer shock

Eddie Nestor has cancer - Just announced on BBC Radio London today by his co presenter Kath Melandri. Listners to the show may have been wondering where Eddie has been for last few days, it turns out he is taking a break in Goa to prepare himself for the treatment which will start when he returns.

Eddie had been planning to run the London marathon this year but has been advised by his doctors not to take part. I look forward to him making a full recovery and taking part in next years marathon!

I'm a massive fan of Eddie and Kath, so it was a shock to hear the news. I wish Eddie well and I hope the treatment goes well for him. We don't yet know what type of cancer he has, I think that we will need to wait until he returns and is back on air so that he can tell us himself. I'll post more news here as I get it. You can find out more about Eddie and Kaths drivetime show at the BBC website

I've heard that one in three people will be affected by cancer, to learn more and make a donation to a very worthy charity please visit cancer research UK

If you havn't heard Eddie on the radio then you may have seen him in one of TV roles in The Real McCoy and Casualty. Eddie has a unique style on his radio show, with very well presented arguements and I love the way he deals with callers! If you can't get BBC Radio London in your area then I think you can listen online form the BBC website.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

How to live a long and happy life

I'll be honest and admit I'm not the author of these healthy living tips, in fact these tips are so popular that a google search turned up 682 websites with the exact same tips! So here goes with some fantastic tips...

Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your CAR by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one! If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!!... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? HELLO Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

And remember:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO, What a Ride"!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Revealed - Neil Armstrong didn't fluff his lines after all

Hi tech analysis by Australian computer programmer finds Neil Armstrong's missing 'a', you can find it too!

Everyone knows the famous line that the astronaut Neil Armstrong said when he stepped onto the moon - "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". The arguments and debates have raged for years, about the missing letter 'a'. For those who may not realise this, the line that Neil should have said was the grammatically correct "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind"

Neil was initially convinced that the transcript was wrong, after all he had rehearsed the line many times before. In the following years the audio tape was analysed many times by NASA and it did indeed seem that Neil had fluffed his line. In fact as the years went by Neil even began to doubt himself and started to accept that maybe he did miss out that ever so important "a" after all.

Now that has all changed, Peter Shann Ford, a computer programmer from Australia claims to have found the missing 'a' using sophisticated computer software to analyse the original recordings.What makes story even more amazing is that you can try this for yourself!

Ford downloaded the audio recording of Armstrong's words from the NASA website. Then using software designed to enable disabled people to communicate via computers he analysed the recording. Amazingly the software revealed evidence that Neil did in fact say the missing 'a'.

You can try this for yourself, the original recording can be downloaded from NASA by clicking here

You can view the paper written by Ford that explains how to replicate the results yourself by clicking here (file is in PDF format)

And you can download a trial version of the software here

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The world of tomorrow

So what will tomorrows world be like?

If you look back 100 years, think how much the world has changed. Cars, mobile phones, computers, a few world wars, man on the moon, nuclear bombs, the rise of terror, the Internet, jet planes, large colour HD TVs, global warming, the list goes on.

So what will the world be like in say 40years? For most of us this is within our lifespan. Will the oil run out? Will we be driving electric cars? Will America have won the war on terror? Will we have been wiped out by a deadly virus or a big rock from outer space?

Sadly my crystal ball isn't working at the moment, so I can only guess. I know what I hope the world will be like. A world where technology means we only have to work a 3 day week. A world where we stop killing each other. A world where people are just 'nice'. No murders, no crime. A perfect world.

It sounds like a dream, but none of the above is impossible. Maybe if we all put a bit of effort in over the next 10 years we could achieve something wonderful.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What colour is your car?

I noticed the other day that the most common car colour in the UK seems to be grey. Now to me that is the most boring colour. Battleship grey, dirty grey, grey skies, dull grey, boring, boring boring.

Some people call it 'silver' but who are they kidding? They've just bought a car in metallic grey!

So is it just us Brits who buy cars in boring colours? What about the rest of the world?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The UK 419 scammers

If you've been using the web and email for any amount of time then the chances are you've had a 419 scam email drop into your inbox at some time. If you don't know what this type of scam is then head over to 419eater to find out more.

It would seem that the UK scammers are fed up with the nigerians getting all the attention and have started to send out the following email:

Dear Sir,

I am Abacha Blair, nephew of the Head of State and Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom.We have come into £14,000,000 (Fourteen Million Pounds) which has been lent to us by noble supporters of the regime, which we must transfer to an account in your country before it is found by agents of the security services (The Electoral Commission, Parliamentary Standards Committee and Scotland Yard).

These moneys must only be used for the doing of good works which is why we have contacted you as an upstanding member of the community. As a trusted individual, please send us your bank account details and we will TRANSFER IMMEDIATELY the sum of £14 Million UK Dollars into your account.

It is very important that you only spend these moneys on community benefit projects although as a consideration we will pay you a HANDLING FEE of 20% (TWENTY PER CENT) and nominate you for a PEERAGE in the HOUSE OF LORDS in the British Parliament.Please send your BANK ACCOUNT DETAILS today as it is urgent that you help us in the doing of these good works.Thank you many times for your kind assistance which God will thank you for

Yours sincerely

Abacha Blair

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

And now for some fun

To make for the last post being a bit depressing, here's something fun that everyone can try.

1. While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor
and make clockwise circles.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.

Your foot will change direction.

And there's nothing you can do about it!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Dragons Den

It's back with a new series! For those yet to experience the Dragons Den it's a UK TV programme shown on BBC2 on Thursdays at 8pm.

Not heard of dragons den? Don't worry you can read all about here: Dragons Den

The part of the show I can never get to grips with is when the Dragons decide they want a piece of the action and the negotiations start. A typical conversation goes some thing like this:

Entrepreneur - "I'm looking for £100K for a 10% stake in the company"
Dragons - "So you value your company at £1 million with nothing more than an idea"
Entrepreneur - "My business plan projects that we will make £10 gazzillion in year 5"
Dragons - "I'll give you £100k but you've overvalued the company, I want 50%"
Entrepreneur - "50% is way too much, would you consider 40%"
Dragons - "No"
Entrepreneur - "Can we meet in the middle with 45% ?"
Dragons - "Ok, you've got a deal"

Would somebody please teach these 'entrepreneurs' how to negotiate? If they do so badly on the show how will they ever survive in the real world? I can think of two fundamental mistakes in the above scenario, can you?

Answers in the comments section please!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Agent Magenta scans the Internet looking for the best videos, news, articles and humor. It's about the highs and lows, the roll-a-coaster of life. The boring, the funny, the shocking, the controversial, the sad and the happy. Agent Magenta will even search out great deals from Amazon, the latest gadgets and maybe even the odd bit of money making and money saving advice.