24/05/2017

Moths

When the 5p charge on bags came in, I have to admit I wasn't a supporter. I worried that this would be the end of the carrier bag and if you didn't have your bag-for-life with you your only option would be to fill your pockets and try to juggle the rest.

My fears only partly came true. Sometimes in a shop you want to use a bag and they have a member of staff handing them out. They're 5p. I don't think they need personally guarding. Everything else in the supermarket is just left on shelves but those 5p bags get a guard.

In general the plan worked, there has been a reduction in the number of plastic bags used and therefore sent to landfill. However, the bags-for-life we use are thicker and they go to landfill too. Either the shops are selling us something that isn't fulfilling it's promise or they don't think we're going to live that long, which is a worry because they know what we've been eating.

This week science may have found an answer. They have discovered a moth that eats plastic. Wax moth larvae enjoy nothing more than munching on a plastic bag so we could use them eat the bags instead of sending them to landfill.

If we learned nothing else from the old lady who swallowed a fly it's that some solutions lead to bigger problems. We'd have loads of wax moths everywhere. Eventually we wouldn't be able to keep up with their hunger, we'd couldn't feed them more bags, they're 5p each now. They'd eat anything plastic and pretty soon that will include the £5, £10 and £20 note.

Pretty soon we won't be able to afford to buy things. That'll save even more carrier bags, I suppose.
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23/05/2017

Housing

We’re in an area where housing is an issue. For some the dream of owning their own home is painfully less likely than the dream where they turn up to work with no clothes on.

One solution we could copy from North London is the so-called naked homes. There’s a development plan to build low-cost homes that are no-frills, and by frills they mean interior walls, floor and even bathroom.

These 22 apartments in Enfield will have a kitchen sink, which is perfect for when people say, “What do you need for your new place?”

You get to say, “I need everything but the kitchen sink.”

The homes will be 40% cheaper than the market price but that’s in North London, so it’s still more expensive than most of us will ever manage without a good scratchcard.

It’s down to the buyer to finish the property which could be expensive. If I have learned anything from watching Grand Designs it’s that everything goes over budget and causes a divorce.

These homes are only really for people who can do the DIY themselves. What about the rest of us who were persuaded by previous governments that going to university would be a good idea? I can’t build a partition wall. Most of my DIY involves Blu tack.

I’m like the people who bought a diesel car when the government said they should. Where’s my education scrappage scheme?

If you can afford to buy one and do the work yourself you could get a good return on it.

But it has no bathroom. By the time you’ve moved in, sorted the floors and the walls you probably would have needed the toilet and there’s just that sink there. So you know what that sink will have been used for. And that shaves some money off the asking price.

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22/05/2017

L Test

Another general election. That’s nice. It seems like ages since we had a vote that divided everyone.

On the day Theresa May announced the election they cancelled ITV’s Loose Women, so at least some good has come from this.

While people get ready to fight about the details of Brexit again I tried to look for a story that could bring us all together.

The driving test is being changed. Anyone who has to share the road with others has probably thought the test needs updating, apart from bringing in retesting. People who drive already seem less keen on that.

I think the additional training part of the test would be key. It’s all very well being able to pass the basic test but if you’re going to use the roads it’s worth taking some advanced tuition. Like a course on how to deploy the indicators on a BMW. Really advanced and difficult stuff like that.

The new test will not test the driver on reversing round a corner, which makes sense. The only time you need that skill is after you have just realise you’ve turned down the wrong side street and you are so flustered you do a manoeuvre that looks like it’s from the film The Italian Job.

Learners will now be required to reverse park into a parking space. It’s similar to reversing round a corner but if you get it wrong you don’t just fail your test you also get a bill for some paint work. It’s that higher jeopardy that will focus the learner’s mind.

When trying to reverse park under test conditions it can get confusing. Some people will veer to the right, some veer to the left and some will mess things up. So maybe it is like the election after all.
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19/05/2017

Con Air

I often use this space to complain about travelling in our area. I spend on average 2 months a year queuing on the A127 at Ardleigh Green. That's not based on any real data but it sure feels like it.

Coming into town is bad enough but the queue going westbound is made worse by the fact only one lane is in use for driving down the A127 and one lane is basically a dedicated slip-road for a fast food restaurant. How bad are we getting that we have as many lanes for fatty foods as we do for actually driving?

Other times my anger has been aimed at our rail services. An actual piece of research said that office workers would be healthier if they stood up for around 2 hours a day. Looks like TfL are trying to help with that.

If you travel on the trains in the mornings there's a good chance you don't even know what colour the seats are.

I have also commented on c2c trains. I sit in the quiet carriage in the hope of some piece but there's always a young person using the phone loudly, saying the word “like” between all other words. I do what any proud Brit would. I quietly tut and look at the “Quiet please” signs.

All my travel complaints have disappeared now thanks to United Airlines. They are the ones who were filmed dragging a passenger from his seat when they had overbooked the flight. As he is dragged out of the plane his shirt rides up and his belly is on show.

As I sit in a queue or stand on a loud train I am grateful I'm not being carrying off with my belly on show. And those around me should be grateful of that too.
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18/05/2017

Views

A list of the best views in Britain has been compiled. I sat down to read which local site would get an honourable mention. Imagine my surprise to fine that we didn't place.

The top ten includes hills and fields and such. Those rural scenes are all very well but you have to travel ages for a coffee shop, which seems odd because the milk for the latte comes from cows and you get those in fields. It's almost like they haven't thought it through.

Anything this list can offer we can do just as good locally.

They mention the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim, famous for its broken up rocks. So? Have you seen some of the pot holes we can offer? There used to be one outside Poundland you could holiday in.

At number three on the list is Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Forgive me if I'm wrong but Stonehenge is simply and old building that has been abandoned and left to go into disrepair. I think we can match that without even trying.

They also say Loch Ness is one of the best sights. When you go there it looks great, but you're actually there trying to see a big creature that you simply won't see. Stroll down Winston Way round the back of the cinema at night and you can see some creatures. Foxes and things, I mean.

At number one on the list is Snowdonia, specifically the view of Llyn Llydaw from the summit of Snowdon. I have seen many Lyns in Ilford and most have been a nice sight, thank you.

We always think scenery formed by nature is the best, and it is lovely, but don't miss out on the everyday sights we are surrounded by. What we human do is pretty good too.
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17/05/2017

Blue Passports

We're a week into life under Article 50 and already there have been some unexpected outcomes. We nearly declared war on Spain over Gibraltar, which is worrying. I think we'd win that war but even the mention of the W-word pretty much guaranties we won't get any points at this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

While war is generally considered as a bad thing it's worth taking a look at some of the positives we're getting from Brexit. A recent YouGov poll found that number two on the list of things leavers wanted to see brought back is the blue passport.

The Home Office has confirmed it will spend almost £500million redesigning our passports, which seems a lot but it's only two weeks worth of the £355million that's not going to the NHS.

Of all the real reasons to leave the EU passport colouring is up there with banana curvature but some people take this seriously.

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell said, “The humiliation of having a pink European Union passport will now soon be over.”

If I'm honest, I never gave it a thought. I certainly didn't refuse to travel abroad to avoid the shame of having to whip my pink passport out in a customs queue.

You see some UK tourists with their bright yellow shorts, socks paired with sandals, a bum-bag and Timmy Mallett inspired sunglasses. They don't look like they'd be embarrassed about the colour of their passport.

And it's not pink. It's burgundy. A colour named after a region in France. How is that now worse for a Eurosceptic?

If we're spending £500million on this I want a passport like the Nokia 3310 with changeable fascia. That way you could pick the cover you'd want.

I might pick a burgundy one. It goes well with my sandals.


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16/05/2017

Drones

Have you seen them? They are everywhere. You cannot escape them. And they are annoying.

No, I'm not complaining about the charity muggers on the high street for once, I'm talking about drones.

The number of complaints about drones has drastically increased. There were 3,456 incidents last year compared with only 1,237 in 2015.

It's a predictable trend. There are more drones these days so there will be more complaints. Back in 2011 the only drones you heard about were American military ones being sent in to destroy targets. So there were fewer complaints back then although possibly more serious ones.

There are many ways that we have found to misuse the drone technology. They are often used to smuggle things into prisons. I'm not fully sure how. All I know about smuggling things into prison is from watching Orange Is The New Black on Netlix and there is no way I'd want to have to shove a drone in there.

One of the most common complaints is about invasions of privacy.

Prof David Dunn, from the University of Birmingham, said: "Previously you had a hedge, you had a wall and you could do whatever you wanted in your garden without people disturbing you. That has changed because of drones."

I don't know what they do in their gardens up in Birmingham but do that indoors, you fool.

It's not the drone's fault, it's us. If you give us technology we'll misuse it. My mum used to enjoy standing by the curtains seeing what was happening on the street. If she had access to a surveillance drone she would have loved it.

We just need to stop the bad people using them for bad things. Now, if only there was a way we could keep an eye on them.
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15/05/2017

New Pound

It doesn't seem that long ago I was writing about the new five pound note. They were boasting of its technological advances, its fancy polymer and its see-through parts. They said it would be the hardest note to fake but the only thing it will be remembered for is its meat content.

No one seems to know how but cows were used in the production of the new note. I don’t get to feel as upset about that as a vegan, because I keep my notes in a leather wallet, but I was still surprised.

So I have been waiting to see what scandal will surround the new one pound coin that came out this week.

The dodecagonal coin is now legal tender and the same storyline happened. We have heard from experts saying it’s a state-of-the-art lump of metal with its hologram effect on the front and its tiny writing that make it hard to fake.

Now we wait for the scandal. They have laid the ground work with the Royal Mint saying there are extra security features inside the coin that they are not telling us about.

So we’re left the guess that the innards of this new coin are probably made of beef. And to make things worse, they got the beef from a cheap supermarket so it’s actually horse.

I bet the coin is hollow. Or the metal in the middle is actually cheap imported steel from China, putting UK jobs at risk.

What else could the immoral security feature be? They make the disc using the tallow from stray dogs they catch. That’s why it’s called a dog pound. Maybe.

The truth is, it’ll be the least forged pound because these days the pound is so weak there are no criminal gangs who can be bothered.
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12/05/2017

Office Crimes

There is a crime that is touching the lives of many people. It is a crime that is going unreported. Its victims are often left visibly shaken. It may have happened to you or someone you know. That crime is office lunch theft.

New research has found that a third of workers have had their lunch stolen in the workplace. I’m self-employed and often work from home so if it happens to me it’s actually a home invasion.

31% of office workers have also had their favourite mug stolen, which goes to show how some people have no morals. At least you can put a label on your mug. You can’t put your name on your lunch as easily. If you sew name tags onto all of your sandwiches it would take ages. It’s quicker to simply change your surname to Ginsters.

Put your name on a mug at work and someone will still use it. That’s why I had a special mug made that says, “World’s Best Impetigo Sufferer”. No one has touched it since.

It’s not just food – if you buy milk it will magically disappear, leave a nice pen on your desk while you walk to the printer, you may never see it again – but it’s the theft of food that seems the most galling because there’s nothing you can do. You can’t call the police. They tell you to stop bothering them.

You have to take the law into your own hands. I started leaving a Post It note on my sandwich in the office fridge that read, “Steve’s food. Do not eat. I have licked this sandwich.”

The good news is, no one took my sandwich that day. The bad news is, they left another Post It that read, “So have I!”
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11/05/2017

Eating with Joan Collins

For a while now I have wanted to have a go at the clean eating fad. People like Gwyneth Paltrow have made successful businesses out of telling people to cut out anything enjoyable about eating. That’s good because we were all wondering how she’d get by on the income from being a movie star alone.

I’m rather biased on this issue as eating is one of the two main sources of enjoyment for me and last week my home broadband was disconnected so I lost the other source.

I’m not saying my diet is always healthy but it is often fun. Some health food advocates say you should only eat foods that are in season. We made it through crème egg season and I made the most of it. When people quote the adverts and say, “How do you eat yours?”

I can only answer, “Quickly.”

The problem with me criticism of Gwyneth’s eating habits is, if someone pointed out that she is older than me but she looks so much better, my argument was left collapsed on the floor.

Thankfully this week Dame Joan Collins did the work for me. She had a go at Gwyneth’s fad diets and she’s much older than either of us and still looks great.

I wish I could look like her when I get that old. Not exactly like that. I’d like the young skin without the curves.

I’ve tried the cabbage soup diet where you only eat cabbage soup. I’ve tried the grapefruit diet where you only eat grapefruit. I didn’t even ask about the Rosemary Conley’s hip and thigh diet just in case.

From now on I will live the Joan Collins way when it comes to food choices. I even bought a wristband that says, “What would JC do?”
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09/05/2017

Short Marriages

In the UK, 42% of marriages end in divorce. Sad news but it means means 58% end in death, so if you have been divorced you may have got the better end of the deal.

There’s more good news for the divorced as new research says that beautiful people are more likely to have short marriages.

In the study women were asked to rate the attractiveness of 200 men in photos, basically what Facebook is for. The experts found the men who were ranked as more attractive had shorter marriages on average.

On the other hand, if you have just celebrated an anniversary linked to a precious metal or stone, well, I’m sure you have a nice personality.

The research was done by Harvard University but it doesn’t seem that complicated. The theory is that attractive people have more offers and more temptation put in their way. It’s not their fault. What were they meant to do, be moral and stay faithful?

For those of us with faces that aren’t our best feature, any stability in a relationship is caused by the fact we know we don’t get many offers. A partner may be a crazy and annoying blight but we worry we won’t find someone else right away and renting on your own can be expensive.

It’s hard to be beautiful. A few years ago journalist Samantha Brick wrote an article saying that she was hated because she’s so attractive. Then the internet told her how much they hated her, which must’ve convinced her she was really attractive.

The take home message from the university study is that for a long and stable relationship, ladies, you should go after someone who has a face for radio. Steve is on radio weekdays 2pm till 4pm.
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08/05/2017

Inflation News

It's that time of year again when they create a fictional shopping basket to work out the rate of inflation. They look at the cost of the items in that basket and work out how much the pound buys you. If that basket were a Poundland one we could save a lot of time.

There are around 700 items in this basket and yet I bet they'd still take it to the 10 items or less queue.

The new items added into this basket include cycle helmets and gin, which makes you wonder how much gin they are buying that they think, “I'm gonna need a cycle helmet tonight”?

Also on the shopping list is rice milk. I've never understood that. How do you milk rice? You must have tiny little buckets and stools.

Chocolate digestive biscuits are now in the shopping basket. We're eating so many biscuits now it's not just inflation that's going up. If we keep on like this the shopping basket will have to include trousers with elasticated waists.

They have also put scooters in the basket. How many scooters are you getting through that you need to buy them on a regular basis? Maybe if you didn't eat so many biscuits you wouldn't break so many scooters.

Bog-standard mobile phone handsets are being removed but if you were buying a lot of pay-as-you-go handsets you were probably a drug dealer.

Smartphones, however, are in the basket because these days they are selling like hot cakes, which if it's a Galaxy Note 7 is one of the warning signs.

One thing is for sure, with a basket full of 700 items including some as big as a scooter I bet the people at the Office for National Statistics wish they'd have spent a pound and got a trolley.
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07/05/2017

I'd Tap That

I am fairly sure I am being spied on.

Donald Trump claimed on Twitter that Obama tapped his phone calls and gave no evidence to back that up and I have no evidence that I am being tapped, so it must be equally true.

Then all the security officials in America said it wasn't true. Why would you need to bug Donald? If you want to record him saying something embarrassing just listen to his speeches.

When a White House spokeswoman was asked if Donald Trump accepted that he wasn't bugged she said, "I don't think he does. He firmly believes that this is a storyline that has been reported pretty widely."

Of course it has, the press reported that he tweeted about it. Just because something gets in the news doesn't make it true.

It was pretty widely reported that Trump splashed out on some hotel room entertainment in Moscow but it doesn't make it true, even though that would be funny if it were true.

Which leads me to my point, I am being spied on. Also this week experts claimed Samsung TVs could be hacked by the CIA and MI5 and they could use the microphone on the TV to listen to everything you say. Admittedly they would hear what you say while you're watching TV, so it would include things like, "Ooh, what's he been in before," and "Well, at least The Nightly Show makes the adverts look good."

Do I really think the CIA and MI5 have bothered to hack my TV to listen to me? Well, it's been pretty widely reported. Reported by me on my radio show and Twitter feed but still, it's been reported a lot.

So it's true. I don't mind though. I'm happy to get anyone listening.
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06/05/2017

Sheds

I enjoy the property section. It's a window into other people's homes, although that's a bad metaphor because there are windows into people's homes, we call them windows.

I like seeing how other people live. I've been tempted to book in to see some properties for my own personal version of Through The Keyhole.

You see a lounge with a massive bar or a TV so big you know that's all the residents care about and you ask, “Who lives in a house like this?”

Imagine my excitement when I was looking at property section and saw the garages up for auction in Abbotts Close. I don't need to park in that area but after seeing David Cameron's £25,000 shed this week I got shed envy.

The former Prime Minister has bought the top of the range shed on wheels. Technically that type of shed is called a shepherds' hut. One presumes if they were known as a pig farmers' hut he wouldn't have bothered.

Cameron plans to sit in his shed and write his memoirs. Imagine how much better my columns would be if I had a shed too.

I could craft these words as I look at the lawn mower or the outlines of tools that are missing from the wall like a DIY crime scene. Sadly, where I live I can't have a shed.

So my plan was to get a lock-up and put a shed in it. Sadly, I didn't win the auction.

Instead I have to live without a shed and see pictures of Cameron's 16 by 7 foot hut with wood-burning stove, sofa bed and sheep's wool insulation. I say to myself in a Loyd Grossman voice, “Who would live in a shed like this?”

I don't think I could print the answer.
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Music News

Music news can tell us a lot.

It was bad news for Bros fans as the Goss brothers announced they were cancelling half of their tour dates. They said it was because of “logistical reasons”, which is widely considered to mean they couldn’t get the band to the audience because the audience had decided to not buy tickets and stay at home.

I understand performing to five people in Newcastle can’t be much fun but, as someone who has taken a few shows to the Edinburgh Festival, if you get a small crowd you still put the show on. I’ve stood on stage saying, “When will I be famous?” but not for the same reasons as Matt and Luke.

They released a statement saying, “All ticket holders for the cancelled shows will receive an automatic refund.” That’s good because previously they have said, “I own you nothing. Ooh ar. Nothing at all.”

I would go on quoting Bros songs but I think I’ve done them all.

Meanwhile Steps have announced they’re getting back together. So, an 80s group cancel gigs and a 90s one put them on. I think this means the 90s is finally “retro”.

80s retro has gone on for longer than the actual 80s did. Decades of boom bring back happier memories than the decades that included a recession. I think that’s why we have had over 10 years of remembering fondly the shoulder pads, skirts and power ballads of the 80s (you should see what I look like in that radio studio).

Finally we are starting to enjoying the decade of Brit Pop, Ben Sherman shirts and seeing Chris Evans lose jobs on TV.

Also in entertainment news, Gorillaz are reforming. They’re from the early 2000s.

That 90s revival didn’t last long, did it?
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30/04/2017

Finders Keepers

Finders keepers losers weepers. They used to be the full extent of my legal knowledge. There was a story in the news that the well known saying isn't legally binding. But it rhymes and I thought that made it law.

A woman was found guilty of theft after picking up a £20 note she found in a shop. She didn't hand it in to the cashier, she kept it. In the old days that would have been the end of that story but now with CCTV is everywhere they tracked down the person who lost the cash, tracked down the lady who found the cash and prosecuted her for theft.

If that is the law of the land why aren't people with metal detectors considered the biggest criminal gang?

When you ask people if they would hand in money they have found they all say yes but I am not so sure. Some people would think it is fate saying, “Get yourself something nice.”

I know I would hand in a big bag of money if I found that in the street but that’s because I worry bunch of criminals would be after me, because I get most of my education from films. I know that if I was given the wrong change in a shop and I didn’t realise till I was half way down the street I probably wouldn’t go back, and somewhere between those two is my moral line.

To hand in or not hand in? That has been playing on my mind for days. I finally realised I might belong to a third group. If I found some money on the floor I wouldn’t hand it in, I wouldn’t keep it, but I would probably pretend I hadn’t seen it because knowing my luck some prankster has glued it to the floor.
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29/04/2017

When Steve Met Lisa [Podcast]

In this show I got to chat with country music artist Lisa Wright. We talk Spotify, the UK country scene and dead dogs. Oh, and even Car Share.

Here's the podcast of it for you to download/listen. (Originally broadcast on Saturday 29th of April 2017.)




Download the mp3.

     | Subscribe with iTunes | Subscribe via RSS feed | | |

Get the info on how to listen to the show live here.

To find more radio show minipodcasts see here.
All past episodes can be found in the radio podcast archive.
And if you enjoyed that check out the SomeNews Topical Podcast.



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25/04/2017

Remembering The Oscars

The mishap at the Oscars was one of my favourite events of the year. It’s easy to think that movie stars are better than us with their perfect smiles and great hair but when it comes to it they can mess up like the rest of us.

If you missed it, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong envelope and announced La La Land as the winner of the best picture award before it was taken off them and given to the rightful winner Moonlight.

Some people have taken this news story very seriously but it’s not that bad. Some rich famous people got an award and some didn’t. They’ll all be having a better year than the rest of us, so don’t feel sorry for them.

And if could have been much worse. Warren Beatty could have opened the envelope to read, “And the winner is… you have been entered into the Reader’s Digest prize draw?”

We’ve all said the wrong name before. I introduced a girlfriend by the name of my ex when I was at the Edinburgh Festival a little while back. Thankfully my ex was called Michelle, so I introduced my than partner by saying, “This is Mi… m’new girlfriend.” And I think I got away with it.

I know someone who’s other half said the name of another man while they were kissing and he didn’t raise it till after because he didn’t want to kill the mood.

It was the accountancy firm PWC who made the error. Maybe the votes were kept off-shore for tax reasons, but the wrong film was announced. Credit where it is due, the cast and crew of La La Land took the news very well, because if there’s one group of people who could really make a big song and dance about something it’s them.

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05/04/2017

SomeNews v3.0 - ep8 - Trump, Gibraltar and Passports

SomeNews podcast

It's the new SomeNews Podcast.

In the all new v3.0 of the SomeNews podcast Steve N Allen and Erich McElroy chat through the news and bring you a handy digest of the latest. This time we look at Trump's successes, the war on Spain and our freedom to pay £500million for new passports.





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| Download any episode from the complete SomeNews archive | Feeding BritCaster.com |

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04/04/2017

Celebs In Odd Places [Podcast]

In this show we find out where you have found celebrities, why my eye bogies went yellow and other stuff.

Here's the podcast of it for you to download/listen. (Originally broadcast on Monday 3rd of April 2017.)




Download the mp3.

     | Subscribe with iTunes | Subscribe via RSS feed | | |

Get the info on how to listen to the show live here.

To find more radio show minipodcasts see here.
All past episodes can be found in the radio podcast archive.
And if you enjoyed that check out the SomeNews Topical Podcast.



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17/03/2017

The Earth Is Flat

I'm probably too obsessed with celebrities. With the help of my entertainment news correspondent, Larry, we often hear the latest gossip on my radio show about which celebrity has been doing what and to whom.

However, I think they should come with a safety notice. Warning: Some celebs may be idiots.

This week an American basketball star has joined other famous people by saying he believes the Earth is flat. NBA star Kyrie Irving said in a podcast, "This is not even a conspiracy theory. The Earth is flat. I'm telling you, it's right in front of our faces. They lie to us."

It's tempting to reply to that with points about how, if the Earth was flat you'd be able to see out to sea a lot further, a new moon would have a square-edge shadow of the Earth on it, and sat navs wouldn't work, but surely the bigger point should be, "How would you know, you're a basketball player!?"

Experts dedicate their lives to studying science and say the Earth is round, a famous person says it's flat and we bother to listen to him?

The same thing happens on the show, a researcher spends years looking at some data, finds a conclusion that gets in the news and someone will call in to say, "I've thought about that thing I've just heard about and I don't think they're right."

But you can't say the researchers are cleverer because we have to stroke the ego of the least smart. We pretend that no one is more intelligent than anyone else in case someone gets offended. Why? We don't pretend we're all the same height.

If Prof Stephen Hawkin called me stupid I'd have to take it. Fair point. I'd agree. And so would a lot of other people. But that's because he's famous.

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16/03/2017

End of CAPTCHA

Technology news is normally terrifying. This week we heard hackers could break into our Fitbits and hold the data to ransom.

I'm not sure I'd pay to hide the fact that I don't do much exercise. The secret is out every time I bend to tie a shoelace and come up looking like I've run a marathon.

Finally I have spotted good news for those of us who like technology.

Google is to introduce new tools that mean we won't have to fill in CAPTCHA forms ever again.

If you don't know what they are, they're little tests you have to do to prove to a website that you are not a robot. It's normally a reading test, not something that assesses if you can feel human love.

I've always hated the idea of a website, run on a computer, testing me to see if I am a computer. I'm even more upset when I can't read the messy typing on the CAPTCHA test and fail it so many times even I wonder if I cut myself would I find wires.

I bought a fridge recently. During that online purchase I had to prove I was human. Why would a computer buy a fridge? Are they recruiting an army for the upcoming techpocalypse?

To join dating websites you have to show you're not a computer. Don't worry, if I go to a bar and see a laptop sat there wearing lipstick I'll notice.

We'll have an awkward conversation, “I thought you said you were Adele. But you meant you're a Dell. OK.” But I won't go on a second date.

I'm glad Google have rid us of that online test. Now if they could find a way to tell who has humanity in the real world it would be a nicer place.
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15/03/2017

More Coffee News

I often plan the radio show while sat in a coffee shop. In fact, in the past I have made a feature out of the things I have #OverheardInARomfordCoffeeShop as Twitter makes me say it.

They have recently included, “No, I'm not into all that Fifty Shades business, I don't even like it when I stub my toe.”

If you were sat near me you may have heard an grumpy man shout, “How much?!”

I was enjoying a half-caf skinny venti when I saw the news that a cappuccino costing an average £2.52 these days contains around 10p worth of coffee in it.

We wouldn't accept that anywhere else. If you went into a sweet shop, asked for a 10p mix and was charged £2.52 for it you'd either complain or realise you're in London.

When you known your drink only contains 10p worth of coffee it makes the tips jar next to the till see a little galling.

As I sat there I was trying to workout how to get my money's worth. The sachets of sugar on the condiment stand are free. They're about 4g. 1Kg is worth 69p in my local supermarket, so to make the £2.42 back I'd need 1,536. I don't have the pockets to sneak all of those out and the biggest problem with that plan is that I don't have sugar.

We simply get ripped off in life. Coffee doesn't have a lot of coffee in it, sandwiches are more bread than filling and so-called man-sized tissues are nowhere near as big as me.

So I say, get your own back. For every hour at work you are paid for work 2.38 minutes and it works out the same. And if you tune in to my radio show, you'll see I've already started.
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13/03/2017

The Nokia 3310

Sometimes technology scares me. With one bank now allowing customers to make payments using voice recognition, I have to be careful. My voice is broadcast everyday so I have to be sure I don't use the words “all”, “transfer”, “money” and “my”in case someone records them and splices them together in a different order.

Technology is getting so advanced you either need a PhD to understand it be 8 years old. So it's nice to see something slowing the pace down. The Nokia 3310 is coming back this year.

If you don't remember it, the 3310 was a mobile phone that was the size of an overgrown highlighter pen and it was packed with features. With this phone you could “phone” someone. It's a strange concept to users of smartphones who use an internet app to live call someone using their phone, but back in the 1970s, probably, the Nokia 3310 would act like a phone allowing you to call someone directly using their phone number.

It didn't end there. You could send text messages, but you didn't have to use a messaging app like WhatsApp or Facebook you could send the message right from the phone. I know, it's shocking, but it was the 1920s or something, so times were different.

Back then SMS messages, as they were called, were limited to 160 characters, which made life so much easier. People couldn't go on and on. You don't need more characters than that. Donald Trump is governing a nation using Twitter and that's only 140.

And the 3310 had a battery life of 55 hours. Young people don't understand these things. They don't know what a landline is. “It's a phone that's plugged into the wall,” you tell them, but with the constant need to be charged, you've just described their iPhone.

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09/03/2017

Body-Cams In Schools

Do you mind being filmed? Cameras could be the answer to society’s problems.

Technology has reached the point where cameras can take detailed pictures. My mobile phone boasts a 12.3-megapixel camera, which means I can take such a hi-def selfie I have to add a filter to blur it and cover my flaws.

The dash-cam is an exciting breakthrough too. In theory they film a record of other people’s driving in case there’s an accident but in reality they mean YouTube gets footage of silly motorists.

A motorist who threatened fellow radio host Jeremy Vine could face jail after being found guilty of road rage offences. I’m in favour of anything that can stop road rage and also in favour of anyone who says something mean to a radio presenter going to jail.

This week saw another addition to our surveillance culture. Some teachers have been wearing body-cams to film the bad behaviour of schoolchildren.

Teachers claim the cameras encourage good behaviour. No. Being a nice person encourages good behaviour. The fear that you’ll be filmed inhibits bad behaviour. There’s a difference.

It’s the same with the dash-cams, they don’t make people want to be nicer and more considerate to other drivers, they simply stop anger-filled cretins from acting in the way they’d really want to.

Give someone a keyboard and the anonymity of Twitter and see what vile thoughts pour out. It’s the fear of being caught that make these people pretend to be normal.

But if filming someone 24/7 is the only way to get people to act in a nice polite way without anger or entitlement I’d be all for it. Apart from the people in Celebrity Big Brother knew cameras were there and look how Nicola McLean acted.

OK, back to the drawing board.

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08/03/2017

Chocolate News

Remember the story about Toblerone changing so it has fewer peaks, like a metaphor for life? Well, it's getting worse.

This week we heard chocolate bars are ‘to shrink by 20%’ in bid to tackle child obesity.

Haven't they shrunken enough all ready? I know it's a cliché to say it but Wagon Wheels are smaller these days. I remember when, in the event of a flat tyre, you could use one as a spare to get you home.

They have already taken so much from us. I saw in a shop they sell Twix Singles. I stood there in the aisle, sighed and just said, “Why?” And then I bought two.

They make our chocolate bars smaller, put them in bags “to share” and we buy more and share less. If you make these bars 20% smaller we'll just buy 20% more. At least this might make some people think that GCSE maths was worthwhile.

And they're bringing it in to help with child obesity. I'm no longer a child, regardless of how funny I still find seeing someone walk into a patio door. Why can't I turn up, with ID to prove my age, and buy a proper chocolate bar.

I don't agree with childhood driving or cars but it doesn't mean we ban it for the rest of us.

The move is in a bid to avoid a Government report that's going to name and shame foods that are bad for you. But if you need a report to notice a massive chocolate bar doesn't count as one of your five-a-day you've got bigger problems.

I know I should eat more healthily but at the moment, thanks to the veg crisis, if you try to survive on healthy salad you might starve. So hand over that chocolate bar.

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Winner's Luck

Have you ever sat and thought to yourself, “What would I do if I had a lucky win?”

Whether it's a jackpot on the lottery or a bit of good fortune at sports betting, if you had a little more to spend I presume you'd find a good way to do it.

That's why it was surprising to read about Britain's youngest lotto winner who claimed the win made her life worse. I've never walked a mile in her shoes, and let's be honest, I couldn't afford those shoes, but if you can't win money and enjoy it I think you're doing it wrong.

She's now 21 and has complained on TV about how her life changed. She has even threatened to sue the organisers because the money has made her life worse. And if she wins the court case? Would she get paid damages? Isn't that going to make the whole situation worse? She'll then have to sue the courts, which won't be easy because they're good at legal things.

During a TV interview on the subject she said she feels stressed and she gets upset that people think they want her lifestyle. You're stressed, we do have your lifestyle, we just don't have all the cars.

One problem that she didn't foresee was how it changed her love life. She said she can never be sure if the men who date her only want her for her money. Hopefully I can put her mind at rest. We are men? If we wanted you for your money that would mean having a two-track mind, and if there's one thing we're famous for not doing well it's multi-tasking.

What can we take from the cautionary tale? In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. All those times you have sat and thought about what you would do with a win wasn't idle day-dreaming, it was valuable preparation for the day you get lucky and the team you'd back win.

So, before you place a bet on a sporting event such as football betting, take time to imagine what it would be like.

Personally, I like to think about a nice shopping trip, a meal out at a lovely restaurant where the menu doesn't have pictures of the food on it, or a little holiday.

If I ever won as much as Britain's youngest lottery winner, I wouldn't complain. And how would I cope with the idea that the people I date might only want me for my money? I'd count my lucky stars.
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06/03/2017

Let's Have A Drink

Dry January has come to an end so there are warnings that town centres could see revellers taking things a bit far this weekend. It's not hard to think of a way to celebrate not drinking for a month, but it seems to undo all of the good work.

If you buy yourself a cake with icing that reads, "Well done on sticking to that diet," you're back to square one.

Some people were so good at Dry January they finished it early, with reports of brawls and people being sick outside pubs. I feel sorry that I didn't go into a town centre late one Saturday night in January because it's the only time of year you won't seen a re-enactment of the worst parts of the Roman empire.

The ironic thing is, Dry January was created by Alcohol Concern, in a bid to get people to reflect on their drinking patterns. That means Alcohol Concern are the ones indirectly behind one of the biggest blow outs of the year.

February also means the end of Veganuary, the campaign to get people to go without meat for a month. Do you think the same will happen there, with people celebrating their month of self-deprivation by going on a meat-bender. Pre-load with sausages at home, meet friends for some steak and, just like their Dry January counterparts, have a kebab on the way home?

I haven't seen anyone who's done that, but if they had that much meat, they'd still be on the loo this early into Feb.

It would make more sense to use Dry January as a time to free yourself of the urge to drink and head into the next month without alcohol. And then you see what February has to offer. We have to get through Valentine's Day. Yep, I'm gonna need that drink.

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