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My Random Frothings
The weird, the wacky, the opinionated and the occasionally useful
The weird, the wacky, the opinionated and the occasionally useful


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The internet is a cruel mistress

Just caught up with the Channel 4 'Dispatches' programme about the Prince's (Charles) land holdings and income from the Duchy of Cornwall which he's entitled to as Duke of Cornwall.

Overall it was a mealy-mouthed weasely dissing of Charlie pretty much on the basis that he makes a bunch of money as a landlord of various estates here and there - one holding is an industrial warehousing leased to Waitrose as a distribution centre  "Ooooh the pollution!" was largely the basis of that. Another was a pub and another a high street shop - as if Charlie was actually personally selling hair product and beer. No, he's just the guy collecting the rent.

Apparently he owns the Oval and King's College London and Dartmoor prison (well, the land it's on anyway) and oooh he makes a bit of cash from that, too.

At every turn the program merrily wheels out Margaret Hodge who was more than happy to gleefully grin her way through 'Well he should pay his fair share of tax' and blah blah blah.

Less gleefully mentioned was the amount of voluntary tax Charlie pays on his personal income (at the same rate as you or I) and that he doesn't take the Royal Handout. The large amount of money he dumps into charitable stuff was begrudgingly covered but old MaggieH was promptly wheeled out again so we could forget about that as quickly as poss.

Irrespective of all the middle class outrage the program attempts to whip up, a quick Google for it's favourite mouthpiece Margaret (try 'Margaret Hodge scandal' for a kick off) reveals her own family company pays only 0.01% of tax itself.

Proof indeed that the Internet is a cruel mistress and that Dispatches, a once-reasonable program, has descended deep into the effluent mire of Daily Mail style mountain-from-molehill journalistic hubris.

One silver lining though... I can delete the rest of the Dispatches recordings from the SKY box and free up the space for something far more illuminating.

Spongebob, perhaps.

#royalty    #channel4    #dispatches    #margarethodge   #scandal    #tax    #politics    #princecharles    #charity   #dailymail    #fail  
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You know how this is going to turn out

This dismal story commences around the beginning of December with a hosting client (who shall remain nameless, nothing if not professional, at least) was getting slowdowns and freezes on their webserver. The server itself was not the most powerful machine on the planet, though they had it to themselves, and, with their site having expanded quite a bit over the previous 18 months ago wasn't really suitable any longer and needed beefing up.

Actually, I lied about the December bit, it really starts about two years ago with a Twitter-arranged meeting of local businesses that took place and over the course of three days prior I created the website from scratch pro-bono, bought a domain name and ran it up on a server and hosted & maintained it for free for the following year until the core team incorporated (or whatever arrangement it was) and they were no longer not-for-profit at which point I started billing for hosting as pro-bono was no longer suitable.

Anyway, back to December which is this trail of woe really gets going. As the server load had been increasing over the previous 18 months, to keep costs down (as they didn't want to upgrade to a more suitable server, they cost more, you know) I kept tweaking and twiddling with the server memory config and the Apache threading config to keep instance counts low and responsiveness as high as it could be which was working OK but, inevitably, a losing battle. As DB size, traffic (the quantity of bots that pounce when you post a Twitter link is quite surprising) and site membership increased the poor old server was grinding to a halt so I suggested putting a copy of the site onto a new beefier test server as you could hear eyebrows creaking upwards whenever I said 'mucho traffic' - Twitter bots and search engine spiders don't generally appear in Google Analytics, you see, as they don't execute the GA javascript. Even a raw Apache log with thousands of entries for a day was treated with scepticism. They even asked for a copy of the site to put on someone else's 'test server' to see if they could 'diagnose the problem' - which I thought was fucking rude to be honest but I played along. Needless to say nothing came of that; I have been computering for over thirty years now from BASIC + Z80 assembler via realtime DSP, VB, Delphi, Perl & PHP so I do know a thing or two.

Anyhow, my test server suggestion was put in place, remember all this is free, I consider all of this work to be paid for in the hosting charge with the only extra charges being data egress over the monthly limit which is just passed along if it occurs. It worked spectacularly, of course, as a beefier server was actually what was needed and so, as expected, it was a treat to behold. All traffic was scraped from the live server's Apache log and punted over to the test server in realtime so it matched the live machine pretty much request-for-request under virtually the same load and it just sat there and took it. Now the test server wasn't free, it was a cost to myself of course so it was passed along though hardly an arm and a leg for the fortnight it was running for.

In fact it's still running. This is because I said that instead of taking the test machine down, why not bung the live site onto it, decommission the live server and replace it with the test one which was working so well. I got the usual umming and ahhing about ooh price this and what-about that but in the end it was obviously the thing to do and I said I'd only bill an extra fiver a month for the new machine anyway and on top of that bill only from their next renewal (February) giving them January at their existing price for the old server. 'That's fine, go ahead' was the word in the email so, as I'd explained would be the case if they wanted it, I paid ahead for the server which is how I managed to only bill them an extra fiver a month and bunged their site onto it. It's worked perfectly ever since - if you judge perfectly by not getting an email every other day saying 'it's going slow again' which I wasn't - it took long enough to train them to send an email instead of a Twitter message (yeah public one saying the server is going slow. Classy). Like I sit and watch fucking Twitter all day like they do.

Anyway so. All is dandy and the phone goes bingly-bong on Feb 1st to remind me their renewal billing is due and I duly send an email to let them know I'll be billing them later in the day for the next year at the agreed rate for the new server, oh and to let them know their test server payment for the test fortnight invoice was now two week overdue.

So the email response comes back saying 'Oh renewal? Oh, err when did it expire?' to which my response was 'Yesterday.' (I'm sure you can see where this is going, dear reader...)

So the next email arrives: 'Look can we hold fire on that for a bit?' and the response goes; 'Seriously? Right, well you're out of your agreement now so everything is billable from Feb 1st if you're not renewing your hosting'.

Reply comes back: 'Oh right, I accept we're not under an agreement at the moment so can you let me know how much it would cost to get the backups and hosting till the end of the month?'. 'Sure', says I and duly goes away and works it out at around £280 inc VAT. Now that might sound dear to some but remember a day earlier this would have been totally free as I consider it part & parcel of the hosting fee. Backup retrieval, backup test install verification, 28 days hosting on the daily rate and domain name ownership transfer as I own the domain (remember I registered it two years ago) all plus 20% VAT - that's not actually so bad (as I'm charging my time hourly, too, remember, as well as daily hosting at the same rate as the test server).

Email comes back: 'So basically you're saying "stay with you for hosting"'. Which is a bit funny as who the fuck wants a customer that will knowingly let you pre-order resources for something they've said 'go ahead' for and then forget (or maybe '_forget_') they've agreed to it then subsequently 'forgotten' they've got a renewal coming up and then after their agreement has expired say 'Hang on a minute' while they go to find another dirt-cheap (no maintenance bog-standard tenner-a-month) or free (as in blagged by saying 'we'll mention you on our site and big you up in return) alternate host. If you're a host then I can tell you, I got fuck all worthwhile business, don't take the blag. Actually I got one gig which didn't pay and then I had to threaten action against them just to get a reduced amount in settlement for them to go away. That's not worthwhile business.

So, while they're cocking around looking for a new cheap/free host I'm waiting to hear stories filtering back about 'How their current host has "let them down" and they need to move ASAP', etc, etc. Which, if I see them, will get a quick link pronto back to this blog post.

Oh and in a final delicious twist of irony the domain name expires on 3rd March so if they don't get the IPS Transfer tags over to me bloody sharpish it'll will evaporate as I definitely won't be paying the renewal on it. I really can't see someone who can't remember they've committed to an upgraded server and has a renewal approaching being able to remember to transfer the domain into their own control to stop it disappearing.

People familiar with the client in question will doubtless recognise this tale of galactic amnesia for who it is. To be honest, if they say they want another year's hosting I might just tell them to sod off because, to be honest, customers like that aren't customers. They're liabilities. I hope they just pay their month's hosting/transfer bill and fuck off.

#hosting   #service   #customers  
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The single greatest barrier to Musicians' income?

David Lowery has been interviewed again in a followup by The Register and while I only read the first half of the first age then scanread the rest (some of it sounded a bit like covering old ground and other bits more like a personal gripe than reasoned), it seemed like there was an elephant in the room being overlooked...

There's a huge number of talented musicians working their arses off every day to eke out an existence doing what they love best but if the only 'router' of funds to them is a massive self-interested corporation that had been greeding it in for years with adversely-worded contracts, 'breakage' and 'recoupment' then actually the megacorp is the point of failure for raising the lifestyles of the muso's, surely?

I'd much rather send thirty quid to the Ozric Tentacles directly and download all their albums than £240 to get the same remuneration to them via a £210 kickback to a record company. At least, if I hadn't pretty much got all their stuff via the expensive route already. DOH.

I think the root of the whole issue lies with the megacorps they're....
Lazy - don't deserve my money
Litigious - Aggression breeds contempt
Viewed as being in the 1% - general social fail at the moment
Greedy - Permanent social fail, all the time
Petty - If you're going to be like that I'll keep my money
Vindictive - I refuse to support that behaviour with my money
Prehistoric - Up your game and I might buy something
Protectionist - You protect your income and I'll protect mine - by hanging on to it

If even you don't agree with all those descriptions you really only need to agree with any three of them to understand that the main barrier to well-earned revenue flowing to artists is these companies themselves. Yet no-one has yet come up with a credible alternative, either, at least perhaps one that hasn't been crushed into the dirt by these companies anyway. Sure the downloaders are denying musicians income in ways they don't realise (musicians do still get paid mechanicals on downloads, right? That's a direct financial loss to them) and many of these downloaders/rippers/seeders view it as a lifestyle if not some odd sort of career, it's also a lie to call a download a lost sale, too. While megacorps continue to behave and be perceived as they are now then they will still be the single greatest barrier to artists' income for the foreseeable.

Original article linked to below. Let me know if you agree, the first piece Lowery wrote seemed better-reasoned and put together than his responses in this interview, which is why I read it.
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David Cameron says he's fed up of being in charge of the UK

David Cameron has revealed his plan for 'UK.plc' on the heels of the revelation that he's sick and tired of running the UK.

"The average person on the street is just so whiney, you know?", led the UK Premiere. "They want freedom to do this and common sense applied to that and quite frankly the endless lying and constant spin in trying to get what I want done while trying to look like I'm acting in their interests is beginning to grate and this is why I have outlined our brand new 'UK.plc' initiative, going forward."

Continuing Mr Cameron said, "What I want is a comfortable, wealthy existence where, to be honest (and don't we all want this?), I have to do next to nothing other than walk the dog, play with the kids and do a few highly-paid after dinner speaking engagements and some Quango consultancy. I can get paid far more by my Big Business pals this way and I don't have to try and hide the kickbacks if I'm not PM any more so this is what I propose under 'UK.plc'".

The Prime Minister outlined his proposals thus, "I'm going to chuck the existing cabinet out, they're a bunch of jobsworths anyway, and appoint some of my chums from business, the ones that give me the most backhanders.", he said. "Health will be run jointly by Glaxo Smithkline and Pfizer, the MOD will be handed to Northropp-Grumman with Lockheed and Raytheon on a Special Advisory Board. Foreign policy will be handled by Nike and the Intellectual Property Office will be given lock stock and barrel to my Stateside bezzie Tim Cook of Apple inc. Public welfare is to be managed by Kelloggs and Culture will be given to a joint management formed by the RIAA and the MPAA, again with a Special Advisory Board formed from Universal and Vivendi. Media & Publishing will be overseen by FOX."

When pressed on why he'd chosen such enormous but non-British interests to fill these newly vacated cabinet roles Mr. Cameron simply responded, "Well the answer's obvious, really, all of these companies have been running the USA for so long it seems only natural to hand over the running of a country and policy-making to organisations such as these with such a wealth of experience. This why ACTA is so vital to my retirement plan, too."

In closing, we asked Mr. Cameron how he thought the public would react to this new initiative and he told us, "Well, they're whining about freedoms and common sense now, I don't see that they will stop whining under UK.plc, just that they'll be whining to the some of the most powerful corporations in the the world, so good luck with that, I'll be in Tahiti sipping cocktails with David Geffen and Lord Mandelson."

#UK  #Government  #Corruption  #Freedom   #ACTA   
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Know what I don’t do
Guest blog piece written for ReThink Recruitment, Jan 2011

When Richard Knights invited me to guest on this blog I found myself thinking “Right, what shall I talk about?”. Should it be highbrow and incisive or should it be something tightly focused as a counterpoint to a previously published entry on the blog?

So I decided to do neither in the end as the most relevant and meaningful thing I thought I could post on a Recruiter’s blog was what, as a Digital Professional, I wanted from them – Recruiters.

Initially it sounds like an easy question, I want good continuity of work, great rates and all of it to be WFH (Work-From_Home) or on my doorstep, but the more you think about it the more you realise, as with so many other things, you know better what you don’t want.

Just like if you’re stalking Autotrader for a new car, trying to find new movies to check out or a dozen other things where you have no closely defined goal but want to eliminate the noise. Have you noticed how almost all search engines/features are geared to what you want rather than what you don’t want? How much more could you discover like that?

So what don’t I want from a recruiter? That’s so much easier:

If I say I don’t take work in area X (for me that’s inside the M25) then why do you think it’d be a great idea to ring me up for 6 months in EC2?

You called me, that means you have my CV which is where you saw my phone number. That means you also know that I don’t have Sharepoint or .Net or Java listed on there so guess what – don’t call me about those jobs, you’re wasting my time and your time combined. Do, however to take the time to do a bit more than type ‘PHP’ into your computer when searching for candidates and learn the difference between Java and Javascript.

Which, as it happens, brings up some do’s to go with the don’ts…

Do, as a “Senior Digital Recruitment Consultant” take the time to research what you’re talking about. If you find yourself recruiting for a CMS bod then you’ll be a lot more appealing to the poor soul you’re trying to shoehorn into some role if you know the differences between Drupal, Joomla, Concrete5, Sharepoint, Expression Engine, et al. Know the difference between proprietary tech and Open Source tech. This is supposed to be your field, after all and when you’re calling someone who’s field it is, day in day out, to a high level you will sound competent.

So many times I get calls from (obviously) junior recruiters who’re just ploughing through some list on a CRM to try and fill a position, I just end up grunting at them or doubling the day rate to get them to go away. I don’t like blowing agencies off, you never know when one of the irritating ones may actually come good but the teeth really get truly gritted quite regularly.

Which is why it’s great to get a call from a recruiter who’s maybe never even put me into a role but is always on the lookout, knows what I do, knows what I don’t do and doesn’t try to sell me a role like some second hand car salesman. I have maybe five or six people I really like to get calls from because I know the conversation will be considered, relevant and of interest to me. These are the professional recruiters who in addition to getting to know candidates’ needs (and also the candidates, personally) also put the same effort into getting to know their clients and their clients’ needs, too. In order to ensure client and candidate are a good fit together this legwork absolutely has to be done, it’s what’s differentiates a recruiter from a professional recruiter.

So, recruiters, you know who you are, take the time to know your clients and candidates, take the time to understand how your clients work and what your candidates do (and don’t do), understand the field you’re working in. Build the rapport on both sides because you, essentially, are the bridge that connects the two and when you get your job right it’s also right for everyone else.

Tell you what, here’s a thought – just think of yourselves as dating agencies, OK?

Seriously, though, if you’re a recruiter reading this then before you call your next potential candidate have a think about what’s gone before in this piece, it might just help you as much as it helps the person who answers the phone.

Guy Eastwood is a Web Development Consultant specialising in Open Source Internet technologies and implementations.
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Global warming revisited
Originally posted September 2007

The question was recently asked on Linked In :

"Why does any suggestion of Global Warming provoke such a strong, often negative response from so many?" which prompted the following missive from myself as well as a good few others' contributions...

The thing that seems to stand out most here is that pretty much everyone seems to believe that global warming is real, which is interesting as there's pretty much only conjecture and politicisation to support it. Not that I'm saying burning fossil fuels is doing nothing, I just don't believe it's doing anything like what's being claimed in contrast to what may well be a natural planetary/solar system cycle.

Whenever someone is telling me something a lot I'm one of the awkward ones who tries to divine what motives they might have for telling me this day in day out. Remember the adage 'if you tell it to someone enough they will believe it'. Not since McCarthyism, Weapons of Mass destruction and various other political goals have so many people had so much 'stuff' drummed into them about one particular subject.

As far as my limited political spin-radar can tell the main motive behind this is oil. Or rather the impending lack of it. Those who don't like reading a devil's advocate might want to don their tin foil conspiracy hats before starting the next paragraph as this is bound to trigger your denial and la-la-la radars for sure.

I'm fairly everyone agrees that when the oil runs out the world will be a pretty messy place until some alternate fuelsource is mass produced. There's a term 'peak oil' which refers to the point where worldwide oil production peaks and from that point on there can never be that much produced again, i.e. reserves are petering out. Allegedly 'peak oil' occurs within 3 years, if it hasn't already. Of course there's a lot of the stuff left but  the amount of oil being produced/available is going to be falling.

If there's one thing almost everyone notices it's how action and movement occurs around things that involve a lot of money, just look at the Googles, Microsoft's, IBM's, Coke's', Vodafone's, Dupont's, Universal's, etc and how they move with huge aggression when they feel their revenue stream is threatened. We also know how much these organisations invest in political lobbying to see that laws and statutes remain favourable to them where they can be infuenced.

It takes a very tiny leap of imagination to therefore imagine the massive oil companies plus their dependants such as airlines, motor vehicle co's, defence & military, plastics co's etc would be wanting to take some form of action designed to maximise their profits, effectiveness and corporate longevity due to their reliance on oil. If you can get people to reduce their consumption of the stuff you get to make money from it for longer whilst perhaps researching alternate energies to cash in on in the future. It has been said that a population are easier to control and manipulate when frightened so why not essentially tell them the world's coming to an end if they don't change their habits? Bankroll some politicians through your existing lobbying connections you know and use so well and you have a massive smokescreen. It's a fairly easy sell to the politicians as they love anything to throw in the air to make the public eye look away from anything else they'd rather wasn't scrutinised plus they can tax the hell out of you 'for the environment' as they're doing in the UK right now, meaning they have more budget to play with for whatever they want to put it into which certainly isn't environmentally related. I really don't expect Gordon Brown to use the new £300 road tax for larger cars but while he's SAYING it's for the environment I know I could drive a 6 litre Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S (if only...) everywhere like my hair was on fire in the cosy knowledge I'm paying for my world-ending pollution to be cleaned up after me, hence I have a zero carbon footprint from my vehicle.

So, while I don't believe that mankind has single handledly destroyed the entire planet with a mere 100 years' petrol-headedness, I'm not entirely sure that I need to put my own tin foil hat on quite yet, either.

I do have the sense I'm being lied to, though..... 
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Top Gear feature suggestion
Originally posted August 2007

Sent to Top Gear production team and shared with you, the wonderful reader...

Now Doctor Who's off the air and TG isn't back on (apart from the recent fun polar special) there's not much reason to turn the TV on so my mind has taken to wandering....

All these people who bang on about global warming and pollution and all associated nonsense seem to have forgotten lorries.. HGV's to be more accurate.

It occurs to me that apart from all the usual shenannigans lorry drivers get up to on the roads (like trying to kill all other drivers), they cause a LOT of indirect pollution. When some HGV pulls out into the middle lane of a motorway or (god help us all) the right hand lane of a dual carriageway that all the vehicles that have to slow down have to make that speed back up again by.. you guessed it.. burning extra fuel.

Now as a rough guesstimate from driving to work every day down 3 junc's of the M1 I'd say HGV's occupied the middle lane about 50% of the journey which means you have LOTS of cars being slowed to under 60mph from 70mph or more until they can get into the fast lane (for those lucky enough not to be on a dual carriageway) to get back up to their cruising speed and continue on their journey. Plenty of times there's up to 9 cars behind an HGV who'll all be wanting to get past which means for one HGV overtaking a 55.5mph HGV at 56mph you'll have 9 x the amount of fuel being burnt when they either  manage to overtake the lorry or it eventually decides to move back into the left hand lane and they accelerate again.

So my suggestion is this...

Get a bunch of willing TG volunteers (yeah you can include me ;o) to have dashcams mounted in their cars to record the journey to and from work and any other relevant 2-or-3-carriageway driving they do and then count the number of vehicles slowed down by HGV's overtaking over a period of time and then give the figures to some boffin to calculate the amount of additional fuel they caused to be burnt. Then calculate the HGV's carbon footprint (can't these be called filth footprints or something with a bit more tongue in cheek?) and the DIFFERENCE in it's footprint had it driven instead at 54mph for the entire journey without overtaking, and compare that difference with the boffin's acceleration figures for the cars and see which caused the most pollution.

My bet is the cars accelerating cause more pollution than a lorry being banned from overtaking and travelling slightly slower.

Of course all the HGV drivers will be crying and wailing at the thought of being 'victimised yet again' but as road tax seems to be pollution based now maybe they'd like to pay more instead of being banned from overtaking anything faster than a moped (oh.. you can't drive mopeds on the motorway..).

After all a 560-mile journey takes 10hours at 56mph and only 37mins longer at 54mph, which no doubt will cause a lot of tacho angst for the dear maligned HGV drivers of this great nation... Awww, bless.

Anyhow it's all fabulous science for TG and we know how much JC (no, not Jesus) loves a bit of boffinry and a bit of audience participation... what about it?
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It's Andy's fault and I bet it'll end up costing loads
Originally posted April 2007
Saturday night was the time for a gathering at Andy's gaff where about nine of us gathered to eat curry (cooked by his Grand Wazoo-ness, Andy), drink ourselves silly and ostensibly play a spot of poker.

Well the curries (he made 4) were great, I had a very painful head the next day and a smidgeon of poker was played but it wasn't very successful as someone decided he had to use all his chips in the first game and go all-in which kind of messed that up followed by some haggling about playing for cash instead of putting your dibs in and getting the same chips as everyone else. So the poker thing didn't really come together but having been drinking continuously from 7pm to 2am it made progressively less difference as the evening went on.

Whilst giving me a tour of his technology empire, Andy pointed out his remote video streaming wireless gadgety doofernut he uses in the bedroom to stream video from elsewhere on his LAN. At this point I should point out to the BPI, MPAA, RIAA and any other TLA or FLA organisations reading this who 'exist to support artists' that Andy lives in a superbunker under the Atlantic in German Bight, so feel free to pop round in case you think he owes you tuppence for something he downloaded allegedly once which might have potentially maybe not entirely been covered by a valid UK license to replay said media and can therefore be fined as part of some loosely legitimised regional price fixing cartel. Be warned, though, that the BBC have lost 8 TV license representatives thus far - two to the sharks, one to the electrified floor panels, three to the autogun emplacements, one to Günther the loyal manservant and one to a new secret device which is as yet unnamed but he's very proud of it and it makes a hell of a mess.

So. Anyway. As I'm too nerdy to just go buy gadgets like that, I bought an old XBox today for 40 quid and I just ordered a modchip for it so I can run Linux on it and turn it into a Freevo and stick it in the bedroom in my superbunker somewhere in Cromarty.

Oh, by the way, I went for the Resident Evil laser protection system instead of the autoguns. Those guns are way too noisy when I'm napping and the Jehovah's pop round...
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I just called to say...
Originally posted March 2007

 "Hello I am calling because your phone number has been selected to receive a free mobile phone..."

Don't you just love these people?

Well I do. In fact in a perverse way I almost welcome their calls. The reason is fairly simple but first a little background on telesales and how it works.

Company X wants to sell its latest nanowidget and so it hires some dodgy telemarketing firm to ring hapless people who are foolish enough to have telephones in the hope that they will buy some nanowidgets. The way (as I understand it) the money is made is the person making the call will be on commission so it's in their interest to either get a sale or turn a dead-end call around ASAP so they can get onto the next one which might turn out to be a sale. Usually a computer makes the call rather than the person then when the call is answered the computer routes the call to the next available operator which is why you sometimes get those silent calls when an operator isn't available or the computer misfired. When an item is sold the telemarketing company get s a cut out of which it pays the operator who made the sale, ther phone bill and pockets the rest as profit with the remainder being passed to company X as a sale.

So it's all about a shotgun approach - call as many numbers as you can. Terminate dead-end calls as quickly as possible and plough through as many as you can because the percentages say you'll get a hit in every hundred calls or whatever. If they can't get those calls out of the way fast enough they're directly losing money (they still have to pay an operator something and pay the phone bill for the call and they will have given expected figures to company X for sales which they're under pressure to meet).

Now, this is why I actually like getting telemarketing calls...

Whenever someone calls to try and get me to buy something I say "Oh, hello, how are you" and they say some greeting stuff and begin their opening script. "Hold on a second," I say, "you really need to talk to my (brother/sister/wife/mother/grandfather/cat/milkman) about this as they always deal with this. Just hold on a moment, I'll get them for you".

You're now at the most important point of the call - the point where you put the phone down (DO NOT hang up, just lay the handset down on the table with them waiting. From this point on you are losing the operator commission, losing the telemarketing company potential revenue and running up their phone bill.

"How do I know when to hang up?" you may ask, and a very fair question it is, too. You know when to hang when phone makes this noise:


If everyone treated telemarketing calls like this then pretty soon no-one would ever have to worry about receiving one as there'd be no telemarketing companies left.
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The stupid Scotsman got it right
Originally posted March 2007

Anyway now that I'm contracting and have more than two pennies to rub together (whereas previously rubbing pennies together meant having more than one) I decided to treat myself to a new car. New to me, that is, not new from a car dealership. Anyway I worked out how to pay for it and it turned out cheaper to stick 9k on a credit card than getting a loan from the bank as I could pay the card off quicker and it was already payment-protected and works out about 1k cheaper than a 24-month personal loan.

Card in hand I took myself off to some car dealers and picked myself up a shiny Jag X-Type 3.0 Sport, promptly flipped the 'S' button on by the gearshifter and floored it all the way home. What a treat.

Now, you may be thinking, "Aha! You're stuffed on road tax now, matey! Serves you right for getting a posh motor."

And you'd be wrong.

Because I think that idiot Scotsman (Scotsman that is an idiot, not Scots are idiots) who lives next door to Phoney Tony Baloney in Downing Street might just have got it right with his £300-moving-to-£400 road tax.

At this point you're probably convinced (those of you that know me) that I've have some kind of mental snap and all my marbles have rolled away down a drain somewhere but you'd be wrong again.

Because Gordon Brown has upped road tax, he must have some plan for what that extra cash is going to be used for and I think I know what it is. With all those extra £130's (to be £230's) of extra tax for these highly polluting vehicles that gas fluffy kittens and cause everyone's firstborn to grow additional heads, he's going to be cleaning stuff up a lot. As the unswervingly dilligent Public Servant he undoubtedly is, my extra payment will be used to offset the pollution I cause by paying for something else to be cleaned up thus maintaining at least the pollutive (is there such a word? There is now.) status quo if not marginally improving things somewhat. After all, what else would he be doing with the money raised under the banner of Green-ness and The Environment?

This, of course, is fantastic news to all drivers. I was a little concerned about having a big engined car cos I knew it'd suck quite a bit of petrol when not on the motorway (it does about 18mpg urban) and you do have to consider the Eskimo's and set an example to the Yanks.

However, now that I'm paying Gordon Turpin-Brown to clean up after me, I know that my Green Footprint will not be tarnished. Indeed I could now drive a dirty great big Range Rover with a clean conscience.

So that's why next year I'll be looking to upgrade the X-Type to a snazzy 4.2 litre Supercharged Jag XKR. Guilt-free.

Footnote: Actually it's an '01 4.0 at the moment, that 3.0 X-Type was bloody awful, the XKR is actually better on fuel... ;o)
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