Tuesday 11 April 2023

New World Order Can Wait: here comes the 650 (currently wote.uk)

10APR23  V0.10

05DEC23 V0.2 the650 is now wote.uk

After a week of especially unedifying party politics and negative nonsense from Labour, a friend of this blog, Peter Dawe, is asking ...

"what if we had an outbreak of common sense and suspended all politics until the accumulation of outstanding incomplete projects and promises is sorted out?"

His initial proposition is engagingly simple: What if we identified 650 "top people" people with no political axes to grind, and asked them to stand for parliament at the next election?

They stand on a manifesto of NO POLITICAL CHANGE, just be there to fix the stuff our politicians never get around to doing... for starters...

  • Match the number of people skilled to do essential jobs
  • Match what the NHS treats with the resources available
  • Match housing
  • Match our energy resources with our needs
  • Match what is illegal and regulated with the ability to enforce - this may well result in a massive simplification of arcane law
  • Match defence commitments to our ability and appetite to deliver

And of course fix the pot-holes, rather than reconfigure road layout, yet again.

The 650 - a perfectly catchy and suitable name - would for the most part be Doers i.e. engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists and proven managers. They would not be the same failed politicians that get recycled between elections.

All of a sudden, the charade of party yah-suck-boo politics would be seen for what it is.

Many EU countries have thrown out their traditional parties, and replaced them with new ones that do the same thing. Perhaps the UK could replace ours with something better!

More at www.the650.uk now renamed to...  www.wote.uk www.wote.uk


Saturday 8 April 2023

The best TV is free-ish

08Apr23 V.1

The best TV is (mostly) free.... you can save yourself a lot of money on Netflix and others - and be royally entertained from the vast wealth of available UK video content; but there is some effort required to get those involved in the complex content supply chain to fix fundamental shortcomings. And they will eagerly pass the buck if not tackled and forced to accept responsibility.

Like many, I have been seduced by the dark side of Disney plus, Netflix and Amazon TV. And been disappointed and disenchanted by the shallow box-ticking "millennial-friendly" nature of too much of it.  Amazon TV is a "few trick pony", (ironically) propped up by Jeremy Clarkson and padded by a lot of also-ran content dross. At least we can be pretty certain that Clarkson has not been wokewashed yet, even if he has been set upon and subdued by the cancel squads over his Meghan Markle commentary.

I confess I am late to this party going on in the depths of the Freeview EPG, but I have started to explore the impressive depth and quality of content I had forgotten existed in the back catalogues of UK TV since the 60s. Especially the golden age of the 80s. To be blunt, it mostly turned to crap in the mid 90s with precious few highlights since. The decline is exemplified by the sad decline in an institution like Dr Who, and the fact that abject tripe like the unspeakably dire Mrs Brown's Boys, wins awards. (Is the destruction of critical faculties another unreported side effect of the vaccines?)

Anyway, I am revisiting the perfectly crafted Frasier, Lovejoy, Sharpe, George Gently and others on the Freeview Drama channel - and have just discovered for the first time, The Fades on Britbox (Fades background info) is a 2011 BBC original that could have been worked up into a contender for Stranger Things - with sex and Zombies - instead of the nerdy D&D references. Maybe it still could?

Also on Britbox is Primeval - a 2007-2011 breakthrough in CGI monsters, cleverly blended with the comely Hannah Spearritt (of S Club 7 fame) in her underwear (those were the days). Primeval became "a thing" in the precious Saturday evening slot for ITV and ran for 36 episodes. It didn't seem to get the sort of promo treatment and international exposure that is now de rigueur for any US streaming show. But I have to admit that some of the acting was terrible - although wooden performances were well propped up by the excellent monster work.

However, none of these shows is tolerable when watched with 15-20 minutes of interrupt adverts per hour inserted by the commercial broadcasters, who confiscate 25% of our leisure time and sell it to advertisers. The interruptions are far too intrusive and disruptive, and destroy the flow of any content. But recorded on a PVR off-air, the commercials can be skipped to a large extent. But since Freeview does not work reliably across the UK (see the trouble with Freeview ) and never can, this is a problem.

But there is another bigger problem - the commercial TV "players" on my TalkTalk Huawei Freeview STB mostly fail due to a fundamental design flaws, that all those involved are trying hard not to deal with, since it would have huge consequences to put right.

Since the problems are intractable, I am having no luck getting through to rattle cages at the support for YouView/freeview/TalkTalk over these fundamental technical issues.

There is a killer bug that means none of the commercial player apps can work reliably on many systems because of the way that advert serving comes from a different server to programme serving. It's only a problem on the UK ad-supported commercial players. iPlayer, britbox and the other subscription streamers do not mess around in this way, and so there is no problem. ITV player fails, but pay the monthly sub for no ads, and the problem - and adverts - go way.. 

However, Channel 4 plus is not fixed by paying the ransom. It fails immediately a program is selected, but at least it does not waste a minute of your time by delivering a commercial first - as do the others. I suspect these broken commercial players may still try and do a lookup by the ad servers to establish which advert region the STB is operating in. But we may never know, since no one wants to explore the issues.

So overall it's a mess, but since broadcast TV is being phased out anyway (so the radio spectrum can be sold), there seems to be little enthusiasm to fix it. The can is just getting kicked down the lane and my numerous attempts to engage with the support at the various companies in the "supply chain" gets ignored. Presumably because they know there is no way to answer my questions and fix the problem, that does not involve a massive disruption of service and huge cost to replace faulty equipment. And in the case of Freeview, possibly a refund of the license fee for those who have been denied reliable/viable service for years. (If there are any employees or former employees of these companies reading this who can blow the whistle on this inconvenient truth, then please feel free to make anonymous contact through the @freeviewing twitter account).

Any suggested fix by the various customer support contact points starts by requiring a "full factory reset" - thereby losing all recordings and account settings on my Huawei box. But since there is no guarantee this will in fact fix it, it's an act of faith, and who would trust this bunch anyway? All they want to do is shoo away pesky customers asking questions. There has never been any attempt to properly engage to establish a diagnostic procedure and answer that does not involve a level of inconvenience and risk I would expect to be compensated for.

None of the various parties involved in the delivery process (YouView, Freeview, talk talk, although individual broadcasters providing the apps) is willing to take ownership of the problem, and it is now a couple of years since I first reported it. So the next option seems legal. Let's hope there are lawyers who are also victims of this apparent conspiracy of silence (that seems to start with Ofcom) who are willing to take it on.

One parting observation is that nobody in the commercial TV business wants to hear that the viewers detest having their time wasted by watching advertising. But they do, with very few exceptions. Now is the moment for the industry to completely rethink the way that content can be supported by advertising - without stealing audience leisure time and then driving it to distraction with crap commercials that cannot be skipped. 

I have a few suggestions to contribute. Stay tuned...

Wednesday 5 April 2023

It's time for a full constitutional reset

05APR23 0v2 in progress

The world went mad, but we are scared to tell those "in charge" to stop, and apply common sense...


All large organizations go out of their way to make direct contact with the public as difficult as possible. Whether it's a phone company or utility - or any sort of officialdom - the last thing they want is to have a record of a communication that could be "subject to further interpretation" by lawyers. The damage that has been done to common sense by litigious lawyers and twitter retribution squads throughout the Western world is incalculable.

The law has long since become grossly over complex and subject to variable and subjective "weaponized" political interpretations, which has created a situation where a zealous official can always find some technical fault. And this is used to intimidate those who are targeted, nowhere better seen than the road traffic act where drivers faced with an awkward copper know that the law will always be complex enough to enable a zealot to find (or contrive) some fault with their vehicle or driving ...if they dare to argue the toss and challenge.

The accumulation of crap means that the only way to bring common sense back into the process is to start from scratch, much in the way that Turkey did back in the 20s when Atatürk sorted out a thousand years of Byzantine (literally) nonsense and installed a new (secular) constitution built on common sense that normally intelligent people could understand and interpret. Sadly, modern Turkey has reverted to the rule of religious bigotry, but stopping short of sharia brutality.

It is little wonder that the liberal establishment (with the eager collaboration of social media giants and tech that controls the attention and surveillance economy) controlling the labyrinthine legal process, does not want a political leader to emerge with the potential to rally the mob (aka the sort of populism that doesn't suit them) and focus the agenda on sorting out the nonsense - sweeping aside the accumulated detritus of ever more potty "liberal" laws. 
The UK hounded out Boris and the US is after Trump.