Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Is the Hartlepool Masterplan Really Going to Work?

Does Hartlepool need a Ferris Wheel? Not really


I've just finished completing a survey about the proposed changes that the Council want to make to key areas of Hartlepool. They want to renovate Church Street, move Mill House Leisure Centre to even nearer the Town Centre, and add more transport options to link Church Street to the town.

Having read through the proposals they somewhat baffle me. I had a bit of a rant in the 'Additional Comments' section these types of surveys gave you. This is what I wrote.

"I'm of the opinion none of these changes will have any impact on the tourism and attraction of Hartlepool. Mill House is in a strong key area anyway linked by bus travel, Church Street is but a stones throw away from the town and has no need for extra transport links.

The investment would better suited in tidying up the general look of Church Street and keep it looking traditional. Housing for students can be available via the existing side streets through simple renovation.

Much more of a priority is the state of major roads such as Oxford Road and the sight of the side streets that come of it. I would strongly consider sorting this housing issue out to make the town a much more desirable place to live so people can spend money long term, rather then attracting tourists who give just a short, one off economic hit".

I even forgot to mention Jackson's Landing. That should be renovated and reopened as a shopping destination, just as it used to be. But this time don't put over priced and over hyped shops in there, put family friendly brands and shops in there. Basically it should be an extension of the Shopping Centre and the various Retail Parks Hartlepool now has.

Of course this is just an opinion, but I think my raised issues have some merits. What do my fellow Hartlepool Residents think about this?

Monday, 26 January 2015

We Need to Talk about the Need for Speed Movie

Need for Speed
Need for Speed sets a new benchmark for driving films


After a week of working hard, so hard in fact I didn't have time to update my blog, I want to talk about something other then computers and programming again. I know the last few updates haven't exactly been related to those things, but when your writing a blog it's good to keep things fluid and unpredictable.

Besides, we are living in a world were so much happens on a daily basis, and if something strikes me I feel the need to talk about it. This time I need to talk about Need for Speed. I've just got around to watching it, and just to get it out there from the get go, it is one of the most fantastic films I've had the pleasure of watching. High praise indeed, and let me share my reasons why.

First up, I absolutely love the Need for Speed video games. I've been hooked since Underground, rank Underground 2 as my favourite casual racing game (although Burnout Paradise runs it close), and even though the quality has dropped over the last few years I still can't get enough of each new release. If EA read this, I beg you to return the games to the after dark street racing environment, and I'm pretty sure I can find enough people in the world to agree with me on this.

Second, I'm pleased to say the movie doesn't have a stupid story like the games. Need for Speed games are about racing and modifying cars first, story a very distant second. A movie can, and should be, a lot different. After all we watch movies as a form of escapism, and when there's nothing to interact with, like a game, the best way to suck you in is with a good story. The Need for Speed movie has, in my opinion, a great story. It's a somewhat cliché revenge story, but the way it has been acted, directed and shot makes it a story you will definitely enjoy. Come the last 20 minutes you will be rooting for Tobey Marshall, and they way the story pans out is just fantastic.

Thirdly, the bar isn't exactly set high when it comes to great street racing movies. The Fast and Furious Series try their hardest to create a character building plot, but it ultimately comes down to loud cars, lots of crazy driving and a few explosions. After almost 7 instalments it still hasn't achieved what Need for Speed has done in a 2 hour movie. Going back even further Gone in 60 Seconds tried its hardest to make you like the characters, but there was no getting away from the fact it was all about the cars.

Need for Speed sets a new benchmark on modern story driven car movies. A fantastic cast, cars, stunts, story and direction, complimented well with a musical score I was not expecting (but works brilliantly) makes for my new favourite street racing movie. It'll never win an Oscar, but if your looking for a great movie to watch at the end of a busy day, look no further then Need for Speed.

The Fast and the Furious - it's over to you, but I doubt you'll be able to do anything.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Where has Skippy been for the Last Week?

Bonjour my fellow internet dwellers. I'm really sorry I wasn't able to update my blog at all last week. Had a randomly busy week setting up various computers and other IT equipment at various locations.

Thankfully that very minor busy period is now over and I can get back to keeping you all informed with my latest offerings of advice and shenanigans.

Speak to you all soon, lots of exciting news to tell you all about.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Is David Phillips the Worst Commentator Ever?

David Phillips (on the right) continuously ruins my Football viewing
This is a question that every football fan can understand. You switch over to watch a match, the build up begins, the TV presenters make you believe it’s a game of life and death, final predictions are made by the studio guests...and then your passed over to the football commentators.

Needless to say the next 90 minutes of supposedly sporting pleasure are about to be ruined by voices that don't belong. I don't know what level of respect in the game football commentators have, but in my household they have, over the past few years, become some of the most annoying, borderline hated, people to grace my TV set.

I can't even see you, and yet you annoy the living daylights out of me.

But which commentator is the worst? This debate can go on for all eternity purely because of the sheer number of bad commentators. And do we really have to call them analysts? Ex professionals who get giving a microphone to explain to the viewing public what's just happened? No, you’re not a fancy analyst - anyone can do that - you are just a lesser commentator.

I'm going to throw one hat into the ring based on the performance I've literally just had to endure while a half decent game was going on. This performance was so bad that if you only listened to the commentary you would be hard pressed to realise an actual football match was going on.

David Phillips. Commentator for Sky Sport's Spanish Football coverage.

I've just finished watching Granada V Sevilla in the Copa Del Ray. Granted it was never going to be a classic, it finished 1-2 to Sevilla, and it was an OK game to watch. But listening to it was a different story all together.

Whenever something remotely uninteresting happens Mr Phillips has to analyse every single part of it in such fine detail that he completely missed the next 5 minutes of the game. It was made even worse in this match because the main commentator (your lucky I have forgotten your name) seemed to egg him on, filling in any gaps in David's knowledge and allowing him to continue to ramble on.

In the second half I watched the winger from Sevilla run through the channel, whip a ball in with pin-point accuracy, the striker had found space in the box and headed the ball on target. The Granada goalkeeper pulls off a great save and ball is cleared.

Every single part of this would have been great commentary...except all we got was David talking about a "19 year old who is still learning the game", only switching back to the live action unfolding before us as the goalkeeper saved the ball, completely disregarding the amazing run, cross and heading of the ball.

And there's more. Iago Aspas, on loan at Sevilla from Liverpool, came on and played the last 15 minutes. Cue the endless chat about how he didn't get his chance at Liverpool, went for big money, never fully justified his talent, ended up back in Spain on loan, is only really worth 5 million Euros....all this while a football match is going on is being completely ignored.

I'd like to say that this was a one off occurrence, but it isn't. Every time I hear his voice on Sky's otherwise great La Liga coverage a little part of me dies inside.

A commentator’s job is simple - tell me what is happening in the game, and maybe give me some quick interesting facts when there is a break in play. Mr Phillips, please do this and leave your lengthy monologues for after the match or Revista De La Liga (Sky Sports Review show for Spanish football).

Is it too much to ask to have a decent commentator who actually commentates?

If you need inspiration for a great commentator Sky Sports don't have to look far in their Spanish coverage. Gerry Armstrong gets it spot on every time, and is thankfully used on all the big Spanish games. He reads the game beautifully, comes to quick decisions in game (and isn't afraid to correct himself if the replay shows otherwise) and focus purely on the game.

But no, we end up with David Phillips, and the countless over commentators who don't actually commentate.

Who do you think is the worst football commentator?

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Happy Birthday to Sister Skippy!

Happy Birthday to my Amazing Sister!

The title of this says it all! Happy birthday to my awesome big sister, Melissa. She may be 2 years older then me, but I'm 2 foot taller haha.

Nothing I do would be possible without my sister. She is the Ying to my Yang, knows what I'm thinking before even I know, keeps me grounded when I get carried away with ideas, spoils me rotten when it comes to birthdays and Christmas, is always there to talk to, but more importantly tells it to me straight.

Without Mel I wouldn't have achieved anything with my life. She inspires me even to this day and makes me want to be a better person. Without her I still be stuck in a crappy job rather then fulfilling my dreams running my own business.

Thank you for being my Sister Mel, and a big massive happy birthday to you.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

UK Charities can get Amazing Discounts on Computer Software

TT-Exchange can provide software to Charities at discounted rates

I do a lot of fundraising and IT support for various charities, specifically in the Hartlepool area. It seems like a lot of their New Year resolutions has been to finally upgrade computers and software the organisations have used for a number of years. Some people where even using Windows XP in 2015, which, last time I checked, was a mortal sin!

Surprisingly a couple of charities weren’t aware that they could receive huge discounts on computer software. Various other charities exist solely just to supply other charities with such discounted software. Working in the charity sector hasn’t been great over the last few years due to the huge funding cuts currently taking effect in the UK, so it’s important that every last penny is spent wisely and efficiently.

The Technology Trust (www.tt-exchange.org) specifically offers a scheme for purchasing software to registered charities. They have partnered with various IT companies, including Microsoft and Cisco, to allow charities to gain access to products that may well be out of budget if purchased at the full retail price.

All a charity has to do is simply register on the Technology Trust website, wait for their charity status to be confirmed, and a great selection of software is readily available. VAT still needs to be factored into any purchases, but even with this savings of 90% - 95% can still be made.

Anyone working for a charity who is considering upgrading any existing tech or software should check out the Technology Trust website to see what they have available.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Why a Facebook 'Copyright' Wall Post is Pointless

I've logged on to Facebook today, as is the usual ritual, only to be bombarded with the same copy and paste privacy statement on my friends’ walls. Turns out not a lot of people are happy about the new rules that have come in to force on the 5th January 2015.

Regardless of what you think about the new procedures, adding a copyright statement to your Wall isn't going to change your relationship with Facebook. In fact, by posting on your Wall you’re probably agreeing to the new rules because you have continued to use Facebook after they have come into effect.

This whole 'privacy statement panic' has happened a couple of times over the last few years, each time being as pointless as the last. I refer you all back to an article published on the Forbes website in 2012 by Mr Dave Thier, who does a pretty good job of summing up the whole You-and-Facebook relationship. Even though the article is now a few years old it still holds true.

The original article can be found at www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2012/11/26/why-you-cant-protect-your-facebook-privacy-with-a-wall-post/, but the jist of it all is below:

"It’s wishful thinking on behalf of everyone that wishes Facebook didn’t own their online identities. The problem is that there is nothing legal about any single post you might put on your Facebook wall. The legal action that takes primacy in your relationship with Facebook is the user agreement, and no wall post is going to change that"

Regardless of what privacy statement you put on your Wall, it's not going to make any difference to what Facebook do with your inputted data. Simple rule of thumb with anything that you want to keep private is to simply not post it on a social network at all.

Hope that has cleared up a few things.

Keep Smilin'
Skippy