Anorak Man - Roland Beaney

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Merry Christmas Everyone - December 2013

Thousands of people celebrated Guy Fawkes night this year with a virtual bonfire because  health and safety rules and regulations forced organisations to scrap the real thing. A private bonfire was filmed and projected onto a giant screen, with giant heaters, smoke machines and the sound of cracking wood coming out of giant speakers. Risk assessments and the mountain of paperwork that goes with them make all but the simplest public events so difficult to organise these days. We now have virtual Christmas celebrations. Father Christmas is disappearing to be replaced by a virtual model as its far too dangerous to deliver all those presents on a sleigh towed by a reindeer. Can you imagine the paperwork that would have to be completed if he fell off his sleigh. There are already lots of virtual Father Christmases in shops singing Christmas carols and  when we walk past them they burst into life and give us a hearty Ho, Ho,Ho. much safer than the real thing. One of my earliest memories was being taken to see a big tubby Santa Claus in a large department store. I was so honoured to meet the famous gentleman and I was so happy when he gave me a present, now many children burst into tears when they see the man with a big beard, how sad. Christmas Carol singers are also dying out. Now we have a cart being towed by a 4 x 4 and on the back is a set of giant speakers blasting out "Once in Royal David's City" and not a real life Carol singer in sight. Its much too dangerous on our roads today with all the traffic. It would be much nicer to hear real carol singers but Poor old Santa just hasn't got the time to fill in all the paperwork that's involved. Will we get snow this year? I only remember one white Christmas and that was many years ago. It wasn't much fun because I kept falling over but we don't need real snow any more as we now have virtual snow and it’s much safer. Snow Ball fights like Conkers will soon be banned anyway as the force of a snowball hitting you on the head may injure you. Whether you get your presents from a virtual Father Christmas or the real man himself, have a safe and Happy Christmas. 


The Wind - November 2013

Many years ago I bought a new house and I was working in the front garden when a man arrived and started planting a tree in my border. I told him that I didn't want a tree in my garden but he had orders from the council that a tree had to be planted and there was nothing I could do. I thought it would be a small tree so I left it there and over the years it grew and grew and grew and became a large tree and it was taking over my garden, By that time the council had put a preservation order on it and there was nothing I could do. I had to put up with its leaves dropping all over my garden and leaving a sticky mess all over my car and the windows of my house. The roots from these monsters lift lawns and nothing will grow under them. Clearing up the mess in the autumn became a big task and the council started charging me to take away the leaves from THEIR trees. I like trees and enjoy seeing them in forests and parks but not near houses and gardens. Recently strong winds caused large branches to fall onto houses nearby causing lots of damage to property and blocking the roads. Why do councils insist on planting trees singularly around houses and buildings when they should be in forests and parks where they can support each other. We need trees in our environment but I wish they would plant them in the proper place and give them a chance and not in an urban environment where they are just not suited.


Queuing on the phone - October 2013

I've always hated queuing, whether it be in the checkouts or for a bus but there is nothing more irritating than waiting in a queue on a phone for someone to answer. A computerised voice gives me options to press 1 for this or 2 for that and so on and then it tells me to press 9 if I want to hear all these messages again. Non of the options seem to be suitable for me so I wait. Then I'm told that they are experiencing a high volume of calls and a woman's voice pleads with me not to hang up as my call is important to them. The next message tells me that I am in a queue and all the calls will be answered in strict rotation. I wonder why I always seem to make my calls when they are experiencing high volumes of calls or perhaps they know that its me calling them to have a moan. They repeat all this again while playing a soothing piece of music down the phone line. I then cut myself off trying to find out how long I'd been waiting. I'm not sure if the music being played was doing its job by soothing me or whether I prefer the old fashioned "ring ring" tone. I re-dialled the number and went through all this again and eventually got through to a real person. The guy on the other end was helpful for a change and seemed to know what he was talking about, then he asked me to wait while he looked for my details and that was that, he never returned and the line went dead. I sat there deflated wondering whether to go through all that again and how much that wasted call had cost me. So much for them telling me that my call was important to them. Perhaps it was time for his tea break. A week later I had an e-mail asking me to answer some questions about my call experience. Perhaps I should tell them that they need to have a lot more tunes to play to their callers if they are going to continue to take so long to answer their phones. 

Phishing - September 2013

Around the world there are criminals that send out e-mails to unsuspecting people with the intension to get hold of their passwords so that they can get into their accounts to steal their money. They send you an official looking e-mail that looks as though its has come from your bank, building society, e-bay account and other accounts you might have telling you that there is some problem with your account and it will be suspended unless you sign in with your password and when you do they've got you and your money disappears from your account. They even set up official looking web pages to make it look as though you are signing the proper thing. These e-mails are called Phishing scams and recently I was caught by one. I have an IPad and Apple ask you to set up a password before you can download anything from the I Tunes store. Soon after I set up my password I got an e-mail telling me that it had been changed and if I had not initiated this change please sign on and change my password. I did but I soon got another e-mail again telling me the same thing again. This went on for weeks and every time I changed my password someone from around the world changed it again. Then games started appearing on my I Pad. obtained through the Apple store from Canada, Japan, United States and Australia. I started to get worried even though I hadn't given details of my bank account. After a few minutes on the phone to Apple I realised that I had changed my password on a phishing e-mail that had been sent to me from one of these criminals and they then put a free game on my desktop and when I play it I am asked for my account details to pay to continue to a second stage. This is how they get money out of us. Many of these e-mails are written badly but not always. Be careful, it might be your turn to get one next.

Names - August 2013

At the end of a TV programme many years ago my name came up on the credits, no I hadn't appeared in the show and I was shocked when I found out that it wasn't the name belonging to a good looking TV personality but of a rat. How could they have the cheek to give my name to a rat without my permission! When I got over the shock I began to wonder why we find it necessary to give pets, plants and even objects names. We have Timmy the Toad, Hissing Sid the snake, Freddy the Fox and then I found out that other famous people had pets named after them. Einstein, Diana, Bach and Fergie to name just a few so I was not alone to be honored by having a pet named after me. We are also not alone when we give our cars a name and if your name is Billy, Betty, Charlie or Ruby then there is a car out on the road with the same name as you. I also found cars called Mr Git, Pig Mobile and The Old Lady. So I was not surprised when came up with a top 20 list of names that people give to their TV remote Controls. There was a time when it was a very exotic piece of equipment, to have your own remote control when they first came out put you into a higher class and people would come round to visit me just to try mine out. Back in the 1950s the inventors of the "remote" which was connected to the TV by a wire called it, "The Lazy Bones". Now it seems that people find the official name  of "The Remote Control" too long so they give it their own shortened name and now we are in a situation where we have various names for the device. My own choice would be to call it The Zapper or simply The Remote but Thingy, Do-for, Whatsit, Clicker, Flipper and Thingy were popular choices. Some even gave them human names such as Trevor or Dave, thankfully my name hasn't been used for this yet. Hopefully one day someone might invent a remote that answers to its name so that I can find it when it disappears for several days down the back of the armchair. The remote is in the top 10 list of things that disappear around the house but that's another story.


Cybercrime- July 2013

According to a survey by researchers at the University of Kent, Cybercrime has hit more than 9 million adults in Britain in the past year, The researchers were able to nail down some cash statistics, too. More than 8 per cent of the UK population lost money to cyber baddies and 2.3 per cent lost more than £10,000 according to a report by the Guardian.. But it wasn't just money the crooks were after. 18.3 per cent of those questioned had experienced attempted break-ins for one or more of their online accounts, including email, banking, gaming, and social media and one in three had suffered repeated attempts. Older people were least likely to be victims, according to the study. Only 11.4 per cent of those aged 55-64 were successfully targeted. Whether that's because silver surfers are more security-conscious, or share less online is not certain. In comparison, 27.3 per cent of 18-24 year-olds have had their accounts compromised. Most of these hacks had no financial repercussions, with 92 per cent of the 1,500 respondents saying they'd lost no money. 3.2 per cent were stung for between £1 and £100, 2.4 per cent between £101 and £10,000, and 2.3 per cent more than £10,000. This last figure was "quite shocking" to the researchers." It seems online crime has a clear impact on the lives of average UK citizens, with their accounts and credentials being compromised significantly and in some cases multiple times," the University of Kent's Interdisciplinary Centre for Cyber Security Research said in a statement. "Cybercrime may not yet have hit a large proportion of the British public, but successful attacks do tend to lead to substantive financial damage." 

Upgrade your TV - June 2013

A "Smart" television is either a television set with integrated internet capabilities or a set top box for television that offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary or basic television. The term is also used to describe devices such as mobile phones that have these capabilities. You can stream content from video on demand services such as Netflix, catch up services from BBC IPlayer, watch web sites such as YouTube and stream live TV and radio. You can have a full HD picture watch freeview, freesat, have USB connectivity to watch files stored on your computer. But what if your existing set is working well and you don't want to change it? There are some options for you. You can buy a freeview or freesat  box to give you many more channels and some are very cheap, you can get a dish with a freesat box with all the instructions and gadgets you need it fix it up if you don't want to call a satellite dish installer all for about £70. If you already have a Sky dish on your house then you can use that. You can buy a sound bar to improve the sound quality or you can buy an Internet streaming box to connect your old TV to the internet. The following devices are designed to add "smart" features to your old TV for a fraction of the cost of buying a new one. These come with all the connections you need to plug them into your old TV. The Roku LT for approx £50 connects to the internet via your wi-fi and can stream content from video on demand services such as Netflix and catch up TV from the BBC IPlayer. You can also listen to internet radio stations. Apple TV costs about £100 and has similar features but no BBC I Player so make sure they do what you want them to do before buying. Sound bars can be connected to your old TV and can make a significant difference to the sound quality, the price range is from £100 to £200 and some can be connected to your MP3 player. Blu-ray players now have wireless connectivity and can also access a range of TV services and some have full internet browsers. So now you don't have to buy a new TV to get all the latest "smart" services and you can save  money. Smart TVs and Internet streaming boxes can also be used to listen to Radio Caroline on your TV or through a Sound Bar. So no excuse to miss out on your favourite station. 

Mobile Phones-Is your data safe? - May 2013

The mobile phone has now become a mini computer. We use it to do much of our day to day business including banking and paying our bills and all this personal information is stored on our phones. When we upgrade them, we are invited to send them for recycling but is this safe, how can we be sure that we have removed all this personal information from our phone before it gets into the wrong hands? As well as this many phones are mislaid and never seen again and as identity theft is big business these days, should we be concerned? Many phones have a "restore to factory defaults"  option but will this remove all our data? it has been proved that this does not always work completely. Apps are available to wipe the device clean if they are lost or stolen but this technology is still relatively new and these apps still leave some data behind. Deleting everything manually is another option but if it has flash memory you may only be deleting the links and the information could remain in the phone. Also, if you lose your power supply or it has broken down you can't delete anything unless you can somehow start it again. If you don't intend to use the phone again the best option seems to be to physically destroy it. In most situations that would probably be sufficient as it would take a fairly good snooper to find the data and if they get a lot of phones there will be easier targets to spend their time on, however if you plan to recycle your phone try to find out if the company remove data from them before selling on although that would be difficult to prove. Removing personal data from home computers kept at home is relatively easy and the real problems lie with mobile devices. If you do intend to recycle your phone after you have finished with it be careful with the personal data you put on it and use your home computer,  if not you may have to find a large hammer and smash it to pieces!

Internet Radios - April 2013

I’m surprised that Internet Radios are not more popular in the shops. As long as you have a reasonable broadband connection you can listen to an incredible amount of radio stations from home and around the World and you don’t need your computer. I thought that £130 plus was a lot to pay for a radio but this one has Internet Radio as well as DAB and FM and if you shop around you can find it a lot cheaper. It was very easy to set up and will run from your homes WI-FI or it has an Ethernet connection so that you can plug it in directly to your router and when you switch it on it connects to the station as quickly as DAB. It has 8 pre set buttons and its easy to find other stations. The 105 model is mono and cheaper.

The STREAM 205 is available in black and white and offers Wi-Fi in addition to DAB and FM enabling you to listen to thousands of stations from home and around the world. This stylish and compact Wi-Fi internet radio is completely portable too, either use it with the mains adaptor (included) or 6 x LR20/D size batteries although they won’t last long in DAB or Internet mode. The STREAM 205 supports MP3/WMA/FLAC/AAC playback via USB

Free software updates are also available to all Stream 205 users to add a range of new features to the radio. The new software allows the radio to be remotely controlled using the ConnectR app for the iPhone and iPod touch. The update also adds support for the Windows 7 "Play to" feature and compatibility with other UPnP control applications as well as multiple language options for the radio menus. Radios that have been recently purchased may already have the new software installed.

Features include-

  • USB socket
  • Intuitive menu system
  • Listen to over 10,000 radio stations from around the world
  • Listen to previous broadcast material using Listen Again
  • Listen to Podcasts
  • Stream your music collection from your PC
  • Wired or wireless connection
  • 15 station presets
  • Clock with 2 multi function alarms
  • Audio formats: MP3/WMA/FLAC/AAC playback via USB
  • Auxiliary input socket for iPod or MP3 play playback
  • USB socket for software upgrades
  • Headphone socket
If you have any questions about WI-FI radios please contact me at


Music for March -  March 2013

A Personal View of the music scene by Radio Caroline DJ. Alan Watts

What an expensive spring it will be for us record buyers, assuming we still have somewhere to go and buy them, if that is our preferred option over the ever growing online only choice we now have. There are several major releases due, providing us with plenty of exciting new music, ahead of the many festivals, giving us the first opportunities to hear songs played live. The much anticipated new album from Biffy Clyro, a double, became their first to reach no 1 in the UK album chart. From some of the longer serving artists there are albums by former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, Ocean Colour Scene, Stereophonics, Strokes, as well as the great Richard Thompson with his amazing back catalogue as well. Those who have come on to the scene more recently with new releases include Frank Turner, Vampire Weekend, Courteeners, Frightened Rabbit and Noah and the Whale. Many tours to promote the new albums have been selling out, indicating that despite the ongoing financial mess we appear to be in, music remains a high priority for many. The festival season will soon be on us, and at the time of writing the biggest, Glastonbury, has yet to announce the major artists. Speculation about Fleetwood Mac appearing came to an abrupt halt when they confirmed other appearances at the same time and headliners at most of the UK’s other big festivals, including Isle of Wight and T in the Park, have already been confirmed. The biggest surprise of the year so far must be the release of a new Jimi Hendrix album containing 12 previously unreleased studio recordings. Why they have been delayed for so long is a mystery, but the one track I have heard at the time of writing, indicates that this will be an essential purchase. Much hyped by the media on its announcement on his 66th birthday, March sees the release of a new album from David Bowie. Looking further ahead watch out for new albums from Manic Street Preachers, according to Nicky Wire of the band sounding “folktronic” and Queens of the Stone Age, with the legendary Dave Grohl back playing drums. Amongst the continuing trend to re-issue historic albums re-packaged, top of the list comes the aforementioned Fleetwood Mac with Rumours, available in many different options and prices, to add to what most of us already have, a vinyl copy and the CD being sufficient for me. A 4CD set plus DVD and double vinyl edition is available as a neatly boxed set. Bringing back memories of Caroline in the 1970’s, Genesis in their pre MOR guise and still including the multi-talented Peter Gabriel, reissue 4 albums from Trespass through to The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Included in the options is a 13 disc boxed set containing many previously unreleased recordings, but at a price that only the most dedicated fan will want to take up. From even earlier come a couple of albums from Family – Music in a Doll’s House and Family Entertainment, also available is a 14 disc set with a 72 page book while Marillion bring us their 1982- 1988 “Highlights” neatly packaged in a 2 disc set. From more recent times and now celebrating their 10th anniversary, The Cribs have released a 2 disc “best of” called Payola, some tracks of course including the aforementioned Johnny Marr who joined the band from 2008 to 2011. So all in all, plenty of old and new music to keep my programme fresh and vibrant, over the summer months ahead. Enjoy. 

Alan's show can be heard on Radio Caroline every Thursday afternoon between 2pm and 6pm. on or on the national radio player


RIP  Reg Presley - February 2013

Its often said that the music that was in the charts during your teenage years will remain your favourite music throughout your life. I still remember fondly the music of my teenage years in the 1960s and one of my favourite groups were the Troggs. I remember listening to their music on my favourite station Radio Caroline under the bedclothes late at night when I was supposed to be sleeping, Reg Presley, the lead singer was the coolest man in Britain during the mid 60s and the song Wild Thing became as iconic as any Beatles or Rolling Stones songs for many teenagers. Its often reported that unlike the wild singers usually associated with these groups Reg was mild mannered, likeable and a really nice bloke. Sadly Reg Presley died recently of lung cancer aged 71 and he will be missed. He was born Reginald Bell in Andover, Hampshire and after working as a bricklayer during his teenage years he formed a group called the Troglodytes and became the lead singer. The group won a battle of the bands contest in 1965 and sent a demo tape to music entrepreneur Larry Page who changed his name to Presley and the groups name to the Troggs. The band eventually had seven chart hits and one of their songs, "Love is all around" became a big hit with the band "Wet, Wet, Wet"  27 years later and was on the soundtrack of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. This brought him a windfall in royalties that allowed him to pursue  his interest in UFOs and Crop Circles. He settled into a quiet life with his wife Brenda in Andover where he died.  

Catchphrases - December 2012

I seem to be picking up a lot of catchphrases these days, those annoying little phrases that we seem to repeat over and over again. My favourite at the moment is "Gordon Bennett" not sure where I got it from but its a line screamed by a passenger in a plane when the pilot whose name was Gordon Bennett did a daring maneuver and flew under a bridge and since then it has been a popular catchphrase to utter when surprised.  I don't beleeeeeeeeeeeeeeve it!!  was TV grump Victor Meldrew's classic complaint and it has been named the most memorable TV catchphrase of all time. The intolerant pensioner's moaning expression on hit show One Foot in the Grave beat off runner-up "Yeah, but no, but yeah but" used by delinquent teenager Vicky Pollard in Little Britain. Del Boy Trotter's "lovely jubbly" from long running sit-com Only Fools and Horses came third, just ahead of doughnut-munching Homer Simpson's familiar "Doh!" and "Am I bovvered?" - from funny girl Catherine Tate's mouthy schoolgirl Lauren completed the top five in the poll of 3,000 TV fans by global market research specialists Little Britain scooped three more catchphrases in the top 20 - "I'm a laydee" quoted by tranny Emily Howard at number six, Welshman Daffyd's "I'm the only gay in the village" at 12 and wheelchair-bound Andy's "I wan' that wun" at number 14.

Despite this, old favourites were not forgotten - Oliver Hardy's line "That's another fine mess you've gotten me into", Tommy Cooper's much imitated "Just like that" and Captain Mainwaring's "Don't panic" all made the top 30. also the late Ronnie Barker's farewell "It's goodnight from me and good night from him" with double-act companion Ronnie Corbett was not far behind at number 32.John Sewell, spokesman for, said: "I'm not surprised Victor Meldrew's grumbling catchphrase come out top - it holds a place in the everyday vocabulary of people across the nation.


1. I don't believe it - One Foot in The Grave

2. Yeah but no but yeah but - Little Britain

3. Lovely jubbly - Only Fools and Horses

4. D'oh! - Homer in The Simpsons

5. Am I bovvered? - Catherine Tate Show

6. I'm a laydee - Little Britain

7. How you doin'? – Joey in Friends

8. Deal or no deal? - Deal or no deal

9. Here's one I made earlier - Blue Peter

10. Suit's you sir - The Fast Show

11. Here's another fine mess you've gotten me into - Laurel and Hardy

12. I'm the only gay in the village - Little Britain

13. Just like that - Tommy Cooper

14. I wan' that wun - Little Britain

15. I have a cunning plan - Blackadder

16. Is that your final answer? - Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

17. You plonker - Only Fools and Horses

18. You are the weekend link, goodbye - The Weakest Link

19. The truth is out there - X-Files

20. Listen I will say zis only wunce - Allo Allo

21. Nice to see you, to see you nice - The Generation Game

22. Boom boom - Basil Brush

23. Don't panic - Dad's Army

24. What's up Doc? - Bugs Bunny

25. You're fired! -The Apprentice

26. I've started so I'll finish – Mastermind

27. No no no no no no yes - The Vicar of Dibley

28. Yabba-Dabba-Doo - The Flintstones

29. How very dare you - The Catherine Tate Show

30. Crazy fool - Mr T in The A Team


Gadgets - November 2012

Are you obsessed with gadgets? apparently its not only the younger generation that are obsessed with all the latest technology because according to the latest research by the gadget show the over 50s are just as likely to own a smartphone, digital Camera, Kindle, MP3 player, digital radio, photo frame, satnav or a games console. The over 50s is the fastest growing market for internet usage and they are now embracing technology as fast as the younger age group. Perhaps the over 50s have more spare cash as they buy lots of high end products such as tablets or flat screened TVs and they use the internet to keep in touch with friends and family, shopping or to keep in touch with the news. They also buy the latest technology to keep fit which does help the young or old. 


Have a Chuckle - October 2012

Another one of those polls arrived into my in tray recently and according to their research we are not laughing as much as we used to back in the 1950s even though we now enjoy a better standard of living. According to their study we used to chuckle about 18 minutes a day but now we only manage to  chuckle for 6 minutes. They also found that British adults laugh on average only 7.2 times a day when experts claim that we should be laughing twice as much before we can claim to be a joyful and happy person. Apparently pre school children laugh about 350 times a day yet when I was young every time I laughed my mum thought I had wind because I had the same expression on my face. I'm puzzled how they find out all this information but according to researchers adults living in Norwich, Brighton and Glasgow laugh the least while adults in Leeds are real chucklers. Two-thirds of people polled admitted that they were desperate to have more joy in their lives but things like money problems, weather, work and family commitments made it difficult.  According to mental health expert Anjula Mutanda we should be laughing a lot more than we are and if we are happy and joyful it would bring us a lot of benefits. The poll was carried out by website I'm off to Leeds for a good chuckle, my wife will be overjoyed!

Sleep - September 2012

Its rare that I have any problems getting to sleep. As soon as my wife turns on the TV I fall asleep. I do wake up very early but as soon as the TV is turned on I fall asleep again. I have no idea how anyone can watch the TV without dozing off. According to research by the sleep council though it seems that sleep is a nightmare for younger people these days. One of the causes seems to be that children drink too many fizzy drinks and eat too many bags of crisps. A nice cup of cocoa, Ovaltine or my old favourite a mug of milky Horlicks would be much better for them. Also a nice bedtime story helps to send the younger ones to sleep. I do like to get out for a walk to get some fresh air but it seems that the modern generation spend too long playing on their computers and too little time outside in the park. The report also says that many people now have their evening meal much later in the evening and much of the food consists of ready made meals. I'm off for my nightcap and a doze in front of the TV and I will probably dream of my favourite breakfast, crumpet and coffee!

The Computer Helpdesk - August 2012

Have you ever rang up those computer helplines for advice.  People that have a thorough knowledge of computer systems do their best to talk me through a problem with my computer. They tell me to click this and that and when my screen doesn't display exactly what their screen displays it gets very embarrassing. Computers seem to sense this and do everything to make my embarrassment even worse by slowing down or bringing up the wrong page.  I am sure the guy at the other end of the line must be muttering about us stupid people than can't handle a computer but keeps his thoughts to himself. A friend of mine was having problems with his screen resolution and was told by the guy at the other end of the phone to right click on his desktop. He did this three times before the teckie realised that the poor guy was actually writing the word  "click" all over his computer desk instead of right clicking his mouse. Having a knowledge of computer terminology is very handy but they now overcome this by asking you to give them permission to operate your computer from their office. This feels very strange when you see your curser flying around on the screen while you are doing nothing especially if you have an embarrassing picture taken at the office party last year in one of your folders that you don't want him to see. 

The Azores High - August 2012

Are you fed up with the wet and windy weather this year and did you spend most of your holiday sheltering from the rain? If so then blame it on the Jet stream which is a fast flowing stream of high level winds that cross the North Atlantic. Normally the Jet stream moves to the north of the UK during the summer but this year it stayed in the south giving us lots of rain. We hear a lot about the Jet Stream when the weather is bad but when we get a spell of fine weather we often forget to give credit to the Azores High. This is a large area of high pressure that sits near the Azores for most of the year and when it sends a ridge across the Iberian Peninsula it can bring us hot and dry weather during the summer and dry mild weather during the winter. Unlike other High Pressure systems or Anticyclones that develop over Europe, Scandinavia or Iceland that can give us nice weather in the summer but very cold weather in the winter with icy cold Easterly winds. So when you look at the weather maps watch out for the friend of the UK the Azores high and if it shows signs of strengthening or moving towards the UK then quickly book your holiday in the UK and your friends with be green with envy but if the jet stream is moving south take your raincoat.

Packing for Holidays - July 2012

I love travelling but the hassle of packing does put me off. Recently I had a flight to Los Angeles and I wanted to keep my suitcase as light as possible. Easier said than done! I had clothes all over the floor and it was a struggle getting everything into my case, in fact I had to leave some clothes behind as my case was full to bursting. At least it was a good excuse for not bringing back presents for friends as I couldn't get any more in my case for the return journey. But according to Bernadette Lusher from Tesco which ran a survey of 2000 women, they can wear 28 outfits on a weeks holiday and 1 in 10 gets changed seven times a day but still 80 per cent admit that the don't wear everything they pack in their case. Even worse, many women use just two thirds of what they pack and bring most of their holiday clothes home unworn. On an average day on holiday several activities can take place and each needs a different outfit. Perhaps my problems are not as bad as this but it does prove that a good deal of planning is necessary when you pack your case rather than just throwing the entire contents of your wardrobe into your case especially if you are travelling by plane. 


What's an App? - June 2012

The term "app" is short for "application" which refers to a piece of software that works on a computer or a Mobile phone and produces a link which sits on the desktop. One click from your mouse or tap of your finger opens up a program that sometimes can be very useful and sometimes completely useless. The term has become part of our vocabulary since the I Phone made it famous but its nothing new though as they were around long before the I Phone was invented but it was the I Phone that made it "trendy." There are all kinds of apps around now, currency converters, mini browsers, games, calculators, social networking, recorders, maps, or even an app to open up your favourite radio station. The parking app is an example of mobile phone technology at its very best but for every useful app there are 10 that are complete nonsense. In 2007, Apple launched an online store where you can buy all sorts of these mobile phone applications specifically designed to run on the I Phone. They glossed it up a bit by referring to them as "apps" and the rest is history. Applications have been in everyday use on our computers for years but now when people talk about apps then most of the time they are referring to small programs specifically made for mobile phones. There are now lots of "App" stores that sell them and some are offered free. Make sure you use the correct apps for your type of phone though. 

First Aid - May 2012

It was a long time ago when I enrolled for my first Course in First Aid. I was very nervous especially as all the others seemed to be so good at it. My early attempts at mouth to mouth resuscitation were not good as all I managed to do was produce strange noises when I tried to blow air into the dummy's mouth. The instructor told me that II should be making the dummy's chest rise and not blowing raspberries. The dummy also made strange noises when I practiced my chest compressions and it made me laugh so much I couldn't go on, I was later told that I put too much effort into my chest compressions and damaged something in the dummy's interior. The instructor taught me to be more gentle with the poor dummy and I eventually got my certificate and the instructor got a new dummy. My second course was the day after a long flight back from Australia and I was suffering from jet lag. A sleepy feeling came over me and I dozed off and knocked my desk over. Everyone turned round looking very startled at me thinking it was part of the course and I needed resuscitating. Its been over 10 years since my last course and I thought it was time for me to have another go as not only had I forgotten much of the basic training but I needed to find out all the latest changes in technique. It was beginning to worry me that if someone collapsed in front of me I wouldn't know what to do. No problem now though, after a days learning I soon picked up the latest first aid techniques and I am now confident that I will be able to handle an emergency situation. Oh, and the dummy survived my efforts at resuscitating it this time. If you are worried that you won't be able to cope in an emergency why not enroll for a first aid course, you won't regret it. 

Sales Gimmicks - April 2012

Buying new  electrical gadgets can be so complicated these days and once you've decided on your choice of equipment you still have more decisions to make. Something that really irritates me when I  buy a new TV is that they not only try to sell me expensive leads to go with it but they also try to sell me an extended warranty. I ask them, "Why do I need the extended warranty, are you expecting it to break down frequently?" they say, "of course not" so I tell them.  "if that is the case, I won't need the warranty then". Also if those gold plated HDMI leads were so necessary why don't they supply them with the set. I'm sure that most people don't know what an HDMI lead is anyway, so before you buy new TV or DVD  I can tell you that it means High Definition multimedia Interface and  is used to connect all your High Definition audio-visual things together to get a proper High Definition experience. Oh, and  DVD is not the abbreviation for Digital Video Disc but Digital Versatile Disc, surprised? most people are. We've also had SCART sockets since the 1980s but not many people know what SCART stands for, its a French invention and a bit long winded so better left there but its use is similar to an HDMI cable before High Definition was invented. So if you are unsure what you want it would probably be better to take someone along with you to help you choose.

The remote control - March 2012

The remote control can be a mind boggling experience for many people. Having made an impressive TV the manufacturers want to provide you with an equally impressive remote control with lots of buttons that are much too small for the human finger. Do they really need all those buttons? even if you work out what they are supposed to do actually pressing the correct button and not several at the same time can be very difficult. There are lots of mystery buttons that don't seem to have a purpose in life and when I'm bored I can't resist pressing them just to see what they do. Suddenly the picture disappears half way through my wife's favourite series or a number comes up on the screen that just won't go away whatever button you press. Why does the manual always disappear when you really need it? Most people only ever press a few of the buttons anyway so perhaps there should be a separate section marked, "for techno boffins only" The poor old remote gets dropped, sat on and wedged down the back of the settee and often disappears when I really need it, often I miss the start of a programme because I can't find the remote control. Have you tried changing channels with the controls on the TV lately? that's more complicated than using the remote. After a long search around the house I often find it in another room or my wife has put in on top of the TV, not much point in that as I need it alongside my armchair. Then the batteries seem to die at the worst possible time, I was in bed and just about the fall asleep recently so I reached out for the remote to turn the TV off, no amount of pressing would turn it off so I had to get up to change the batteries and after that I couldn't get back to sleep. Then there is the clutter of remote controls, I picked up one to turn the TV off once but no amount of pressing would turn it off and after changing the batteries I realised that I was using the wrong remote control.  If you have a story about problems with your remote, please send them to me at  

TV Confusion - February 2012

The pace of change for televisions today is getting ridiculous. Back in the distant past I had a one channel set, two channels, ITV and BBC were available at the time but I kept fiddling with the channel change switch and it fell off leaving me with just the one channel. Then along came colour, 625 lines, teletext, Satellite, Digital,  larger screens, 24 inch, 28 inch, 32 inch and even larger, Plasma and LCD and rear projection TVs. Now we have a TV with Freeview built in and in the future Internet and connections for computers and a USB socket. Oh, and 3D TV and soon even higher definition TV. Visit your TV showroom and you will find a bewildering display of TVs of every type but as soon as I buy a new set its time to buy another one as its out of date. In the old days you put the old set in the spare room or sold it but I now have more TVs in my house than I will ever need and no one wants to buy my old sets now, in fact I can't even give them away. So its no wonder why all our council tips are filling up with so much unwanted rubbish. I still wonder what happened to all those cathode ray tube sets and computer screens that were dumped when everyone wanted a posh new LCD screen, some of them were still in good working order. If you are one of these people that can't tell the difference between a SCART or HDMI socket or can't decide if you need Freesat or Freeview or plasma or LCD then you are not alone, there are many others that are finding it difficult to keep up with all the changes. If your TV picture has disappeared recently then don't dump your old set because it is possible that all you will need is a little box to convert your set to receive all the new digital channels and they are available reasonably priced from all the main stores. Your next problem is to choose what channel out of the hundreds available to watch. At least we don't have to worry about the channel change switch falling off, but hang on, we have a remote control now and there we have more problems and I will have more on that later. 

Running on Empty - January 2012

Have you noticed how many petrol stations have closed down over the past few years and become hand car wash centres?  I drove into one recently to fill up my car with fuel and realised something was wrong when I found the pumps had been removed and a bunch of guys arrived with buckets and sponges to start cleaning my car. When I explained that I wanted to "fill up" with fuel, I was told that the pumps had been closed for months. Many of these closed down filling stations are in town centres where other filling stations are available around the corner but some of them are in remote places where you could run out of fuel. Research from Britannia Rescue (part of LV=) showed that there are many remote spots in the UK with no petrol stations at all. Some of these spots are popular with day trippers where motorists are running out of fuel and facing a long walk to the nearest station. With petrol costing so much drivers are going out with little petrol in their tanks and running on empty without knowing the location of the nearest pump and that is not a good idea if your favourite garage has closed. Running on empty can also potentially damage your engine. Amazingly many drivers are also wasting fuel by shopping around in their cars looking for the cheapest fuel. I've often been told to drive to a petrol station miles away as the fuel is 2p a litre cheaper even though it would cost me far more in fuel to get there and back. So if you are one of these drivers that regularly run on empty thinking there will be a garage handy when you run dry then take a can of fuel with you. You might find that garage that you filled up in last time with not be there now

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