Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wasting money deliberately? Or just plain incompetence?

Those were the two questions that popped into my head when I spotted this in The Times earlier today.

The Olympic aquatics centre (the posh name for the swimming pool complex) was originally estimated (and budgeted) at some £70 million. The current costing (errrm, no, still not actually fixed) now stands at some £214 million.

Now an additional £144 million might not seem an obscene increase in the overall governmental scheme of Olympics expenditure, but, to me, it smacks of utter incompetence in the initial estimating process. What the hell did they do? Sit around a table and pull random numbers out of a tombola?

Ah, OK, they blame the increase on VAT and inflation. "much of the disparity is explained by VAT and inflation. While venue costs estimated during the bidding process were in 2004 prices, they must be stated in 2012 prices."

So, with VAT fixed at 17.5% (or, just maybe, our gov knows that VAT will be set at a rate of 100% by 2012?), and inflation at the official government figures of just over 2.3% (not that any single one of us believes that anyway), we get a tripling in cost between 2004 and 2012? Come on, we are NOT that stupid!

And, what a surprise, the bidding contract was won and assigned to ..... deep intake of breath ..... a sole bidder! "The Olympic Delivery Authority is set to sign a construction contract with Balfour Beatty, the sole bidder."

As well as incompetence and profligacy, this smacks to me of profiteering, greed and may even be tinged with a hint of fraud. And all that money is coming out of your own back pocket one way or another to be trousered elsewhere!

Whatever happened to accountability? LOL!

Addendum: (1/2/08)
The Daily Mail appears to have identified a few 'fat cats' which just might partly explain why costs are overrunning so much.

Build it and they will come. And go. And..

Local news is, by definition, going to be focussed on local issues. But often a story can make me ponder much weighter national issues. One such was in today's Midlands Today.

Addendum - extra info attached, see below.

The BBC site has again let me down on finding more info or a link (though I have asked - LATEST - I am doing well at the moment with helpful replies for follow-up information. It's always well worth trying to locate the author and ask. In this case, the correspondent himself has kindly provided this: Report is there under the TOP STORIES link on the right hand side (I suspect this will have a finite time it's up though. The one to look at is the next under 'Possible commuter problems', though all are worthy of noting)). There's also a specific page for reports from this week's transport features), but there was a report by correspendent Robert Punt that really struck a chord.

Today, in 2008, with all else we have swirling around us, it seems national government is requiring local government to plonk several thousand new homes on some rolling green belt land.

That's bad enough. I just wonder what they plan for when the last blade of grass has been concreted over to provide 'affordable housing' to buy off 'lower-income ratepay... er.. voters' property-owning aspirations.

Thing is, if I heard right, there is also no money, and hence no alowance for any support infrastructure. Bad enough for the plight of the community that this probably includes schools, hospitals, flood systems, etc, but one thing for sure ain't there is transport.

And it's next to a motorway. So, as this valauble piece pointed out, this not so little additional collection of working stiffs will be jumping in their Fiestas each day to earn a crust.

Barking. I look forward to the bin fines to offset the carbon. Not.

Addendum 2 - 1/02

As he was nice enough to show an interest and asked, I have sent the link to this to Mr. Punt. Of course I couldn't avoid a bit of context... which sort of turned into more a rant. But it was a good one and worth sharing here:

There just seems to be no joined up thinking when it comes to environmental matters between government, LAs and, often, business. But always the consumer cops it in the end.

I get livid when I hear the latest anti-car edict issued from Westminster, slavishly (and uncritically) printed by Fleet Street (though often also broadcast by the national BBC) and endorsed by Islingonistas. Very few out here have a tube line at the end of the road. So the car is often the only option. I choose to write for Fiesta family rather than 'My other car is a Prius' Person, the former of whom have lower incomes, mortgages, kids to get to distant schools, 2 weeks tops to spend, with luck, somewhere sunny, and the chance to do one weekly shop of a Friday evening at Tescos.

There's so much more I could highlight where the onus is thrown on those least able to cope, from plastic bags to, like I infer, the latest recycling wheezes. Just how much is spent of massive ad campaigns and how much effort put into punitive legislation, when there are still no credible, coherent systems put in place for the willing consumer to actually do what is best, easily, affordably and to a decent enviROI?

Sorry, rant over. Back to trying to DO something rather than just box-ticking, narrow-agenda-serving exercises in guilt, fear, threat or nanny that so far seem to have achieved little (OK, a teensie bit more of a rant). I sincerely believe the public DO understand the issues, and DO want to help. But they need to have their situations understood better and see things shared that are designed from the ground up to help them help.

And, speaking as an ad man, all lead by end benefit and incentive bolted on to logical, persuasive communications, which seems a much more productive route to consider.

Their starter for...

I make no apology for printing this in full: Join the debate on a low-carbon economy

Note: Post event Addendum added below.

It looks like they could do with a bit of a kick-start is all.

Huge Issue. Top quality paper. One of the most significant blogs. Multimillion, if not billion NGO.

So far, no input as far as I can see. Maybe most emailed direct, as that seems to be what was asked. I am not so shy. Also, it's a shame not to see the questions posed in open forum. Leads one to suspect that those chosen might be edited for suitability first.

Post your questions for the Observer's science editor and the Carbon Trust
January 29, 2008 11:00 AM
On Thursday January 31 at 11am, guardian.co.uk will be hosting the first of three web chats exploring how Britain can create a low-carbon economy.

The Observer's science editor, Robin McKie, will be joined by the Carbon Trust's director of innovations, Mark Williamson, to discuss what is in store for low-carbon technologies in 2008 and the innovations we can expect over the coming year.

Topics for discussion include:

What technologies are being developed (photovoltaic solar cells, micro-CHP, wave and wind powers) and how are companies/scientists/engineers improving on existing technologies?

Can these technologies help the UK meet its targets?

Who needs to take the lead in implementing new technologies?

What are the most exciting developments happening in low-carbon technology?

Is 2008 the year for these technologies to really start to hit mainstream, or are we still a few years away?

You can find out more about the Carbon Trust here, and more details about the chat here.

Email your questions for Robin and Mark to carbontrustinnovation@guardianunlimited.co.uk and log on at 11am on Thursday to follow the debate

'Last night I was honoured to be a co-speaker and panellist at The Centre for Sustainable Design - http://www.cfsd.org.uk/ - in a session entitled 'Resourceful Innovators', where the main topic for discussion coincidentally revolved around the level and quality of support for ideas and entrepreneurs developing low carbon solutions.

Without speaking for the College or those present, it seemed agreed that almost all focus of support was on big-ticket, high profile, hi-tech, but not necessarily that great ROI or often even enviROI+ initiatives.

Also that vast sums seem to be going into logistics, administration and comms budgets of those tasked with doling out funding, but a possibly less than healthy percentage was getting from taxpayers' pockets to those doing the most good (especially seeking to become self-sustaining without ongoing subsidy as a business model), in the most cost-effective and planetary beneficial ways.

So a couple of top-of-mind questions to pose are:

Why are there so many bodies tasked with forking out the money to help such private, and possibly highly worthy initiatives, why do so many overlap, why are they so 'big system driven' and what are the actual breakdowns involved in getting say, £100M from UK taxpayers to amounts tangibly provided to money in hand for things that might actually help their families' futures?

Just in round figures.

It's also a pity not to see more of the possible questions that may be posed in open forum here on the site as there is that option.'

However, there is is opportunity here, and you need to work with what is on offer. hence I hope this may push the right kind of buttons and may stand a better chance of being embraced:

'On a more proactive and pragmatic front, what more can be done to matchmake those with good ideas with the necessary business skills to bring these to self-sustaining, and soon profitable market. This country abounds with innovators, and by all accounts we are also well served with the service sector and business brains that know how to make money. In few cases are these two skill sets complementary within one person (save, perhaps, a Dyson or Baylis). And possibly in the area of the environment it may be further complicated by the driving forces being often at odds. Great inventions can often be driven by a desire to make money, yet more often than not they are more idealistically inspired. But one thing I have learned early on is that to have any chance of success in pushing the business case, the priority you outline is much more 'IT WILL MAKE OODLES OF DOUGH..' first, with '... and will also serve the future of this planet and those on it well' very quietly, and last, at the end. It is almost as though a desire to do right by next generations is seen as a negative in the macho universe of the Masters of the Business of Administration. A curse of denigration by Dragon. Which is a pity.

We are in a much more complex world, with many realities that need to be faced. And high amongst them is that most successes need teams of complementary talents to shape a concept, especially a new, left field one, and bring it to market. So in management, especially financial, one would have hoped for more forward thinking and indeed a desire to recognise and pleasure in seeing potential, and then building the necessary structures around it to make it happen. Not expect... or demand... a fully fledged done-deal from the off. Were it only as easy as ploughing in dosh and lighting the blue touch paper. There are people to meet, deals to be struck.... consumers to convince. Few can do that and make magic in their shed, too.

With the wealth of contacts across the board, and indeed in boards, could not more be done at official level to bridge the gap that I believe exists between those business minded creative souls that do have the talent and belief to think in terms of the next generations of products and services that can serve the environment, and the hopefully creative minded folk in business who can see potential in such ideas, and are looking for a legacy that is not just measured in pounds, pennies, Lears and Flaming Ferraris. Readers of this paper who do appreciate the environmental lead, but are not so interested in spending their money any longer on an advertised weekend trip to an Eco-lodge in the Maldives, and more on being part of a method to help mitigate the chances of the azure waters lapping higher than desirable.

So, of course, we are now in a world driven by bean counters, and hence we need them to work, and to work with them. But if more and more are counting beans and fewer and fewer making them, soon there will be no beans for anyone to live off.

Can we do more to free those who this country's unique systems and institutions still inspire to create great and unique ideas, from the all too crushing constraints of being things and personalities that they may not be best suited to deliver? Can we not seek ways to identify those areas that do have potential at an early stage, and then marry them and their creators with the now necessary skill sets to produce the business plans, P&Ls, forecasts and other instruments (though often, it seems that are mainly backside covering, and hence highly speculative 'best guesses'. It is my experience that an innovator, whilst passionate, may tend to be honest enough to say I haven't a clue' when asked to provide market forecasts for the next decade, which often does not tick the right boxes in more 'correct financial procedures concerned' cultures. Mind you. ... Dome? Wembley? Olympics? Nulclear? Some Alt. Energy schemes?) that are indeed necessary and essential to bring solid business concepts to fruition and profitable, socially serving reality?'

ADDENDUM:

Well, I think it's over. Actually was a bit hard to say. Probably me being an IT-numptie, but I did not find the 'process' that easy. From the original site link (at the top/start) it was a bit of a kerfuffle getting 'registered', and then I was none too sure where I was once 'live'....

Here... or here.

So, how was it for me... you?

I'd say, at best, an 'interesting' experiment in communication at best. Though I dipped in and out that was 1 and a half hours of time, and really what Q&A result was there? Especially as to pressing enviro issues involving the lives millions of folk and billions of £.

At least some my question sets did get posed, and by the editorial taboot. Not sure I got many answers, mind. It was all very... general. And this from a chap whose title is Director of Innovation, and if you click on the link to his bio he sits amongst a bunch of other 'Directors of..' who I doubt very much are on expenses only. So still no clue as to how a £100M in funding get carved up before the public sees any money going to 'doing' vs. 'talking' or 'doling'. And I do have to note one medium that is the beneficiary of a lot of this comms largesse. But at least they allowed me to pose my question, so big up there.

Not sure how the other questioners felt, either. As I indicated, we are talking via one of the more significant online news entities, with a definite interest in things green, involving senior editors with a high official in a hugely-significant green quango... and between the options I attempted, would be hard pressed to see much more than, what, twenty involved?

Not sure what it says exactly, but it doesn't seem that encouraging, really.

I doubt I'll be investing such time or effort again on this basis in a hurry. Which considering the importance of, and sums involved in such an issue, is a worry.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

There are facts, numbers and then statistics .....

..... the big question, as always, is whose numbers and statistics do you trust?

This article from Sustainable Development International (seemingly taken from The Guardian) highlights a typical example of just such a possible distortion of figures and statistics. Vegans have long claimed that 18% of CO2 emissions are a direct consequence of meat production (that's more, supposedly, than some calculate is the total output of the entire transport sector) - this report appears to debunk that statistic as incorrect.

"a Food Climate Research Network report concluded that UK meat and dairy consumption was responsible for 8% of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions. This is still a worrying amount, but considerably less than the 18% claimed by the green and vegan movement. It is also far less than the UK's transport emissions, which, according to the Department for Transport, represent around 33% of all our greenhouse emissions, if aviation is included."

As ever, statistics appear to be getting massaged/manipulated/falsified (delete whichever you feel relevant) to suit one particular side of the argument. I'm finding it all totally confusing. Just who do you believe?

A game of two halves

I nick, and probably mis-requote the original, but it kind of sums up my day.

Mostly, I was in Birmingham, and using some mental athletics I soon hope to turn to the common good with a program addition to Junkk.com and/or tripsplitters, managed to combine two meetings.

The latter, from which I have just returned, was my first tentative step into the hairy world of Venture Capitalists and Business Angels. As I say... a step. It was not with anyone with whom I might end up working or is going to introduce me to all the right FMCG folk or wads of wonga, but rather a broker. Very nice chap, who gave me a fair and considered hearing. Thing is, I really had no idea how it went. I may never hear again (which I doubt, but it won't be the first time), or I may find myself on another roller-coaster. Quite disconcerting. There was so much I wanted to share and to ask, but it was just the pertinent facts, little reaction or feedback... and then wait for the call.

In contrast, my first appointment was a very different affair. I was meeting the Technical Manager and crew of the Jewellery Innovation Centre, part of Birmingham City University.

The purpose was to see what they could do for me to help with selling RE:tie, by way of prototyping.

I was there for a few hours, and had a ball. We toured every nook and cranny of the facility, and they have toys and skills you would not believe, to make just about anything out of just about anything. And they are keen to help if you qualify and the idea seems fun.

There were big boxes that housed lasers that burned away. And little boxes with inkjet layered powders that built up. The one that really blew me away was a hi-tech version of an ancient Chinese ivory carving craft whereby a lattice ball is created within another lattice ball. Only this fellow was a ball within a ball... times 6! They had things in metal, things in aluminium and things in plastic. From 40cm cubed down to the size of a pinhead, with angels dancing upon it... and a logo stencilled on their tushies.

What was quite funny, and I guess interesting, was when they showed me a tray of stunning creations (try a sailing ship with full rigging... the size of a fingernail), and the one I zeroed in on was a gorgeous structure composed of rows of rods, which I thought would make a stunning piece of stationery ware. Turns out it was a waste mould and was to be thrown out! I think they understood where my reuse mind was at once this happened.

Of course we went off topic and roamed all manner of other things they could do for the inventive mind, and I was keen to repay the commitment with anything I could offer in return.
Links all round and features at the show stand to start!

Because it's all looking good. They don't see any problem making not just a prototype but a fairly large number of demo pieces of the RE:tie for the March show. A few design challenges to sort out, but from the patent drawings through CAD-CAM to an on bottle-top mock-up or score.... to not just claim what RE:tie can do, but show it doing it to those who will hopefully be an audience with an imagination and chequebook to match.

Here's hoping.

It's just interesting that when it comes to these aspects I was in my element, but when it came to the related, necessary and highly complementary issues of taking business I go from being a Orca doing flips above the ocean to a beached whale gasping on the shore. So now, more than ever, I need that all too missing piece to my commercial structure. With luck, if this finance guy sees merit I may be en route, but I honestly have no reading.

But here's hoping.

So why, oh why, can't our lot do it?

Yet another example of a country's sensible government issuing tax incentives for the adoption of energy saving measures as reported by EDIE. Well done Ireland!

Our lot seem so stuck with their heads in the sand (or should that be Northern Rock?), talking 'til they're blue in the face, but at the end of the day, achieving, and incentivising, absolutely nothing.

Plus ca change.

GOOD PACK, BAD PACK - What do you make of it all?


ADDENDUM at end - we're not the only ones on the case (geddit?)


Ok
, we admit it. We bought grapes in a box... but they were Fairtrade!!! You can see by the label.

Speaking of which, what has inspired this blog is what was on the other side, namely the packaging recyclability advice.

It's a bit hard to see here, so let me retype for you:

________

This packaging is partly recyclable

Punnet/PET - [tick]
Label - [x]

[tick] - Not recyclable everywhere yet.
To find out about recycling in your area visit www.recyclenow.com

_________

Sooooo.... let me get this staright.

The packaging is partly recyclable, but might not be so first go on an online hunting trip to find out.

More than this, the [tick] goes from being a yes, to a maybe.

And just for good measure, the [x] is for the label, which is glued to the plastic which might be recyclable. Or not.

Now, is it just me, or is this not just the most confusing thing you ever saw/read? And also shows that there's a whole lot of effort being p*ssed away by a whole lot of folk to make it look like we are addressing waste, without first tackling the main ways that need to be put in place first so the poor consumer can actually DO something about reducing it or disposing of it correctly?

Me, I think I'll try finding a reuse first.

Gaurdian - Listing the green labels

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monbiot on population

Gentlemen (and ladies), fire up your flames.... Population growth is a threat. But it pales against the greed of the rich

With a headline like that, I'm guessing rationality from any 'side' will be noticeable by its absence.

So I think a good lurk is in order here.

Patently venal

Fresh back from a talk on IP for RE:tie, and I open a letter regrading my TradeMark for RE:Box.

Seems an outfit called the EIEC (European Institute for Economy and Commerce) reckon I owe 'em £479.75 for something I already paid the IPO £200 to get approved a while ago.

It's a scam. Be warned. And these can also happen with URL registrations.

IPO advice page

What gets me is that many may not know, and there seems little the authorities can or will do about such a blatant rip-off in plain sight. I reported it but was just told to ignore it. How many might not?

Donkeys leading, reported on by jackals

Of all the things to come back from my jaunt yesterday and address first, but this example of government agenda and media rantings (I meant ratings, but this typo may as well stay)-driven complicity made my blood boil as I listened in the car.

First up there was a totally factually spurious set-up on the issue of possible overprescription by Doctors, somehow coerced by drug companies. You will all gather how this went down and what I thought of it... and how it was left.

I also make reference to another topic, which pretty much gave sole voice to one guy who reckons a 9-ton satellite full of toxic waste is going to land on us sometime in March. No check, no balance. I have decided to see what actually does happen and how it gets reported. Even if the facts turn out to be true, the way it was all shared was truly idiotic.

'Thank heavens for guest expert Dr. Sarah (Jarvis?), the only calm, rational and objective contributor to this whole sorry piece.

If ever there was an example of a set-up agenda hijacked by a self-serving set of interests, and handled in total disservice to balanced information and the interests of public understanding, this was it. Bar this lady.

Inspired, it would appear, by a grand-standing Labour MP, on the potentially interesting and worthy of debate topic of potential over-prescription, we are promptly treated to this individual being pretty much allowed by the host to claim all manner of 'factual' nuggets, such as depression can be solved by a stiff walks and some fresh air.

To the best of my understanding, this utter tripe is completely at odds with the views of the medical profession, and the only real expert present, who could barely get this point across... because, I think her heard her say... 'she is not allowed to'.

Meanwhile, the host's only contribution to the quality of this 'debate' is to ignore all this and allow this semi-official and wholly-irresponsible government (WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN TOLD A FEW REASONS WHY SO MANY MORE FOLK ARE IN THIS COUNTRY AND MIGHT BE DEPRESSED SINCE 1945) numptie to leave and then keep the whole sorry thing to drag on by trying to steer things in a whole new route of whether drug companies are 'responsible' with, I note, no spokesperson in their defence, and the good Doctor seemingly constrained from defending her profession's ability to surely make their own minds up by simple good manners and a desire not to disagree with her host.

A travesty of ratings-driven stirring at the expense of responsible public service broadcasting, partially redeemed by a loan, but woefully restricted voice.

ps: I tried to find the place on the show site to comment this but could find no option other but to contribute*. I then went to the Newswatch site but could find none there relevant to this show either. Not the best - or as I could not locate it easily - clearest set-up really. But I look forward (not) to getting the usual form, insincere 'we regret.. but...' dismissal in due course.

*pps: But there is one on the other 'sky is falling...' topic of ... the satellite falling. I have made a note to check in a month's time what actually has happened, and see whether it tallies with the scare story as portrayed, with only one side presented, in the show.'

Monday, January 28, 2008

Laugh of the day .........

.... is this from Bloomberg, reporting on Tony Blair's latest appointment as an advisor to Zurich Financial Services AG, Switzerland's biggest insurer, on, amongst other things, 'climate change'.

The man who talked the talk, but did sweet fanny adams when it came to walking the walk, advising on climate change! A subject he did his best to totally ignore, other than issuing loads of hot air on, during his tenure as PM.

Come on; you're having a larhf at our expense! This has got to be a wind up?!

A new RE on the block...re:place?

I'm about to head off to a seminar in Surrey. And this time I'm a speaker!

That's a nice new twist. I have often had my doubts about the value of a lot of networking events, and have pretty much decided the only ones of real value are when you have a stand of your own, or are on the podium.

At least with these two you can be pretty certain all there at least know who you are. Of course, to achieve the former you are several grand down on the deal, while with the latter you might even get paid. Of course, you might not. Ways to go, I guess. In this case, Farnham, about 250 miles there and back.

Anyway, I have been invited to share the story so far on RE:tie, and by association, Junkk.com.

It's going to be interesting. I have done my PowerPoint, and at 30 minutes it's a long one. Mainly an amalgamation and adaptation of a few previous ones, mostly derived from pitches to try and get funding or PR or a sale.

I was pondering this this morning as I watched breakfast TV.

It was another of what seems a weekly slot where Sir Stuart Rose of M&S gets to flog stuff with Declan holding a rack of schumtter alongside. The PR luvvies and wires between them and the BBC bookers must have been buzzing.

Only this time there was... is (it's a trial, which cranks the eyebrow a tad) a twist. And as stated, it's a reuse story, with win-wins all round, so I am bound to cover it here.

Basically, for now, if you are about to donate your old stuff to the charity shop, make sure you break out the old M&S efforts and get 'em to OXFAM. In so doing, you get a £5 voucher, they get some quality gear, and M&S.... well, they get you to fork out at least another £30 on new stuff. See... win-win.

Only, it's kinda more replacement than reuse. And in many ways the main winners are, in order... who? And... as long as it lasts?

Look , I have no problem with end-benefit driven enviro-initiatives, and this is better than many I've seen. But it just comes across as a bit, I don't know, stretching it... or... grubby?

Speaking of which, there was a whole raft of 'if it isn't suitable or crack squad of sorters will recycle it no problem' form the lady on a nice directorial crack from OXFAM. Were these not the guys who told us recently that if it wasn't brand and spanking to bugger off elsewhere? Maybe this is a corrective mea culpa.

It's just we are talking a very specific effort here, for a potentially limited time period, but by being greenish gets another huge dollop of free-ad PR. And I have to say that, and once I have gone through the Sundays will prove, the 'fashion'; industry doesn't half get a lot of cover for doing a few things that might err on eco, when overall the whole sorry lot are sucking the life out of the planet in terms of consumption and waste and, even, unethical, practices.

Wouldn't it be great to see a few more stories where you, the consumer, get to opt for a necessity (well, ish) that is free yet still can in its purchase help you, aid the marketers... and the planet? Now that would surely be a 'win win win'.

Let's see how I do trying to convince my audience in person. As I can't seem to get the BBC or retailers to be interested as yet.

From Bali to ...... Hawaii

The plane-loads of pols, civil servants, bureaucrats and associated hangers on have now decamped to Hawaii for yet another international discussion group (starting this Wednesday) on climate change (as reported by Reuters).

Strange that this bash seems to have been kept a lot quieter than previous rounds. Ah, I've just realised that it's a little different; this time it's hosted by the USA, and the meeting is "aimed at curbing climate change without stalling economic growth." The meeting is actually a continuation of the talks that took place in Washington last year (which resulted in what exactly?), where the USA took considerable stick for its entrenched position over the Kyoto agreement. "There has been no change in position whatsoever in this White House. They were hoping to sell their position to the rest of the world and that's not working."

The thing is, if climate change is as potentially dangerous to humanity as the scientists say it is, then economic growth is probably going to be the least of our worries. It all sounds rather reminiscent of the band playing as the Titanic slowly went down.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dire and dire

Just a few thoughts on the state of governance and the media, starting with the Andrew Marr show:

I see Mr. Purnell described as 'up and coming' and a 'future leader in waiting'. Just wondering how 'up and coming and future leaderlike' is he, say, to Mr. Milliband, who seems to have had similar sales pitches in the past.

He is certainly in with a chance with such a useful CV (an ex-BBC employee, like an awful lot... too many ... in government), which should get around needing to pay for PR and get in the troubles such as Messrs Hain and Johnson have/are experienced/ing.

Also he seems on safe, secure ground in trotting out a load of stuff that 'will' (well, might) be done to address problems and issues, without actually needing to explain in great depth as to how all this happens now, and yet again, after this administration has been in power and in theory addressing all this... or not... for how long already?

As I watch on, having written the above I watch Sir Menzies Campbell relate how, during his leadership, a top reporter came with crew to visit him how he kept his socks up. Says a lot about the state of our media.

So, meanwhile, for Newswatch...

Just watched a programme promo for some Rugby.

I'd just like to ask that when it is quoted that 'some say they are descended from Gods', just who this 'some' who say this are?

And in a already celebrity obsessed culture, where the media is entirely complicit in setting up role models, especially to the younger generation, that are, how to say... in excess of realistic expectation and aspirations.

I may not like, but accept, that commercial entities might and do engage in such deification in the cause of pushing the next product and service, but expect better of the national broadcaster.

The THREE E's?

I've been banging on about who the economy vs environment debate has been going for a while. Seems it might be that I need to add another 'E': the EU - EU plans to see our economy blown away

Lord alone knows things need doing, but when I read such as this (and tend to agree), I do wonder about what's being done and by whom... for what enviROI:

'The most prominent proposal is that which will require Britain to build up to 20,000 more wind turbines, including the 7,000 offshore giants announced by the Government before Christmas. To build two turbines a day, nearly as high as the Eiffel Tower, is inconceivable. What is also never explained is their astronomic cost.'

Surely it is for such as our politicians the Carbon Trust to weigh such issues for actually value, not just push anything with a whiff of green no matter what? And especially avoid or 'massage' figures to be dutifully trotted out by a mostly compliant media.

This should not be in blogs or tucked away in minor commentary. This should be brought to the fore and debated openly at the highest levels. It's not just dishonest; it's leading our future down a very mire-filled creek, and blowing our paddle-purchasing potential en route.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Clueing Up

More happy Friday stuff. This time a book via a group.

Yesterday I was with a group of nice folk in Bristol at a networking event hosted by an equally nice outfit I'd met by virtue of being not first in a recent award: The Hub.

In a most relaxed style over a (BYO) lunch we were treated to a talk on web-based social networking by one of their members, Ed, who works with these guys, amongst others. Quick off the mark with his uploads, too. You might notice the Vac:Sac at left in one pic.

While he didn't really tell me much I didn't know, and depressingly reminded me just how much I'd paid for over the years that was now free and open source, he did focus my mind on the various Web 2.0 opportunities for self-promo that Junkk.com needs to engage with.

FaceBook, MySpace, BeBp
Wikis (lost of potential here)
Fikr (if only for image storage)
YouTube (ditto)
Blog (Looking at it!)

He also mentioned a good book to read for those trying to grasp and exploit the etherlike world of the net, which I in turn pass on here. It's called the ClueTrain Manifesto. It's free, so what's not to like?

Sadly, even though Bristol is but 1 hr away (on a good day), it just eats into a day getting there and back, so I don't know if I can afford to pop up and down too often. But there are also some useful guys there who may be able to help me take Junkk.com to some higher levels, so fingers crossed.

Telegraph - BBC plans social networking site for children - Don't feel (quite) so bad about the considerably less (but still a lot) I spent to do considerably more, with more folk, than those who have access to our apparently limitless pockets.

Or, for that matter (though you will need to delve a bit).... here:

London Standard - Whistle-blower to sue Mayor over 'bullying' claims - 'LDA's Diversity Dividend, an interactive website allowing companies to assess their diversity performance. ...the £295,000 contract for the website... The website never operated properly.

Good News Friday - Plastic Fantastic!

Nice to share something nifty. Actually a few somethings.

First up there was a slot on BBC Midlands Today just now about a recycled plastic process that actually will handle mixed media. No more contamination issues! OK, it's fence posts and not the next water bottle, but it gets around that big issue of co-mingling spoiling the batch.

There is a follow-up report tonight at 6.30pm if you want to catch it (Good luck, with the fun I'm having with the BBC site either reading or commenting - if I see one more 402 or 502 error...)

That's the other bit of good news. I emailed the enviro correspondent concerned, Dr. David Gregory, to find out more and got a nice, helpful reply straight back:

At the moment* they're called

Encapsulated Waste Limited
The Old Transformer House
Showell Road
Wolverhampton
West Midlands
WV10 9LU

*Evidently, as the Google I did got this...;( Shame to have a PR and no 'go to' in support!

Anyway, maybe I should quit for the weekend now, while I'm ahead!

Roger, Over. And Out.

Bit of Friday fun: Monarch expands onboard recycling pilot

I have to say this sounded intriguing. But then I read on and realised that that some poor old plane Captain was not having surgery, being cloned or getting put out to pasture in a new job!

Good on 'em, though the words 'extending' and 'pilot' (as in programme) and 'plans to' always have me holding my breath as to what might transpire... eventually.

At least they are doing a fair bit of tangible stuff already. In fact I am amazed that more airlines are not, and required to be, doing more by now.

It reminds me of when I was an ad man with a few airline clients (bearing mind we are taking a pre-green CSR decade ago), when I was already pestering about mitigation ideas.

So I was chipping in with notions on everything from taking out the classifieds sections to the comp papers (the items will be sold by the time you get back) to having Duty Free sales as a pick up at destination on deplaning. Sadly these were usually dismissed with a patronising pat on the head.

Maybe I should get back on the blower again? Not sure what we could find to reuse en route or back home, but you never know!

RE:VIEW - Which? Magazine

I was going to say that I don't usually get involved with things that cost money, but that's daft. Most things have a price. Hence I am addressing here: Which? Magazine.

It won't be a long 're:view', at least not for now, but I am doing so here for a few good reasons.

First, and to be upfront, they have kindly popped me in their PR list. I like what they are trying to do; they seem to like what I am trying to do, so backs are going to be scratched.

But mainly I think they are a good resource to consider on matters green, especially if you are thinking of blowing some serious dosh on a green product or service. As independents, these guys do allow you a more objective opportunity to weigh ROIs and even enviROIs to 'look before you leap'.

There are a few options you can consider. Just get on the sub now and see what turns up. They have a major Green commitment ongoing and so each month there is likely to be something that will simply turn up.

Or you can see what they are up to and get on one of their deals, which is usually a 3 month trial at a good rate and then see how it goes. Don't forget that with the sub comes access to the archive (lots online). So even if you don't see what you need now, if you're going to blow a wad on, say, a solar panel, it may be worth investing in a sub to see what they have to say. And throughout the year they may well upgrade, like we do here.

So, starting with this month, let me simply highlight for you (and them: what may tickle your fancy will help them, so I will upgrade in future as I get reminded by my review copies' monthly arrival):

2008
Feb
Green products - Dyson bagless cleaners (new range), Retailers (no real green focus, mind)
Green family - onging personal experience series
How green is your home? - ongoing feature



Note: I'm doing this so much now I have prepared this little explanation that will be popped in a post where necessary to explain what I'm up to.

I this case I am kicking of a new CATEGORY on the blog, which one day I intend to mirror on the Junkk.com website. But as the former (thanks to Google's billions) has an awesome content management system (to add & edit links, pictures, etc) and the latter (thanks to me blowing the pension several years ago on a steam-driven version and having no more to upgrade it at the 'mo), I'm am spending a tad more time here than on the site in the hope I will get help one day to run the two in complement (which a few other inter-connecting facilities to get you, dear reader, to lots of useful stuff on a topic).

Two for the price of one.

Or... here's somebodies we flew in earlier: Bono and Gore have an answer, not a solution

Eco(nomic) development vs. Eco(logical) preservation.

Hmmn. Tricky.

Sadly I have to agree that with a growing global population with some major concentrations about to make the leap from 3rd to 1st world (is there a second? I never seem to hear of that stage) status (with all the aspirations and consequences that will bring) I can't see the result being that great for the latter.

So, like many, I have a lot of questions, a load of answers... and precious few solutions (well, a couple that do try to involve motivating and doing, rather than depressing and berating) that at least that have a political ice cube's chance in the sheer hell of a Bali post-conference poolside cocktail. Or a refugee overnighting in a Davos storm drain.

Thing is, I rather suspect there are quite a lot of others in the same boa... er... cattle class... er... business... er... first... er... private plane seat, all with same lack of tangibles to provide. It does now provide a nice little earner for an ever-growing cabal.

But having too long been fed a domestic diet of 'not acceptable', 'needs looking at' and 'won't be easy' by those addicted to gobbling down and squandering funds into holes of various hues (most lately green ones on endless quango comms budgets to tell us to do stuff as consumers - or else - which the systems have not yet been prepared to accommodate to a decent enviROI+), I'm a tad tired with yet more pointless wittering from those totally isolated from any consequences of anything. And those camp followers chasing them about the globe with a vested interest in not rocking the gravy train, comortably along for the ride in the observation carriages

So I have to agree with such as Post 8, Mr. McGilloway, that whatever messages do get spouted, we need a new breed of messenger PDQ. Because if they have lost me, then what effect their 'situations' and how they get portrayed by the inevitable cynical mechanisms that exist (so you now need to work with this fact, which is why you don't hire Pete and Kate to front a health lifestyle campaign) in this modern age has on much lite-er greens can only be imagined.

One has to presume their sincerity and applaud their commitment (nice not to have to worry too much about paying the rent, mind, but hey), but it does seem that there are mental blocks in place in pondering if they are really getting things across to the masses in the best ways possible, and not just pandering incestuously more to their mates behind the VIP Green Room velvet ropes? Warm and fuzzy, to be sure, but not making my kids' futures look any rosier, I'm afraid.

So yes, these two talking about, much less commenting upon cutting back on lifestyle excesses does indeed seem a stretch to empathise, and engage with if you are more Fiesta Family than 'One of my other car's is a Prius' Person.

And they are more than pandered to by an equally illogical, nannying media, who seem to be operating on set agenda and box-ticking mode in trotting out anything 'green' without thought, and yet to see no irony in flying en masse to the snowy wastes to see if they can find a melting glacier, or Tuvalu to dip a toe in the azure rising waters and solemnly intone to camera...' and it's you lot flying EasyJet who are to blame.'

Acts. Together. Get.

Houses. In. Order. First.

And if not 'practical' as in Tony 'Well, y'know, it's not really practical for the likes of me not to... as I have a stonking mortgage to feed [like the rest of us don't]' Blair, then step out of the frame and leave it to leaders who can lead by examples worth following.

Until then, I reckon this lot are just knocking back even further the chances of any coherent, rational, public changes in opinion and/or consequent behaviour.

This addiction to 'awareness' without also thoroughly assessing overall consequences is looking increasingly more short-sighted and self-serving the more we get fed it.

ADDENDUM - I don't know if it is a Mac thing (it's better but not 100% on a PC), but the BBC site is woeful in getting replies through these days. Either an error message or rejection. And then, just for good measure, it either has missed or hasn't so you end up duplicating!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Climate change denial adverts

Interesting to note that most of these examples of climate change denial adverts come from the motor industry in one form or another.

My fave is No. 5 - surely someone at EDF (or their ad agency) ought to have recognised the wonderful irony of using an image of the Easter Island statues?

CATEGORY - PR COVERAGE - FoE

Also known as 'backscratching #101'.

Noticed a surge in sign-ups, and lo, there is a reason; this nice plug from FoE in their 'Tip of the Day', a worthwhile daily.

Happy to return the compliment.

A debate worth having

I'm copping out here: SHOULD WE STOP CARING ABOUT GROWTH?

From the tag I have given it you'll see that it's an issue that needs focusing upon: (Eco)nomy vs. (when the naive hope would be 'with') (Eco)logy (well, Environment, but I'm playing with common spellings).

I don't know enough to really comment sensibly. The two do seem relatively hard to reconcile, especially in the face of growing populations, 3rd World countries turning 1st (is there a second?) and watching the coverage of Davos so hard on the heels of Bali. Apparently Al Gore is lobbing up.

So yes, a debate worth having. The conclusions will be... interesting.

I just hope they are worthwhile and don't represent an exercise in hamster-like wheel spinning that only serves those within the wheel who at least get paid to talk and report on the talking.

I just heard Aunty's reporter call them the 'Great and good'. Hmmn. The cars looked great and the bubbly looked good at all the parties, for sure.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Switching Off

As many know, I hold Newsnight to a high standard.

Few serious, in-depth news shows remain, and even fewer give you a slim chance of the issues being challenged and discussed.

More often than not these days even they seem to have excavated below the base of the barrel in terms of trivia and are often almost rivalling BBC Breakfast News in the blonde and bouffant sofa set stakes when it comes to cringeworthy topics, one presumes in an attempt to broaden their appeal.

However I did not consider Ethical Man to be in that category. When it started it seemed a decent attempt to inform and debate, to which I often contributed.

But it lost its way a bit, especially when the reporter (and his family) seemed to become more important than what he was saying. And the needs of TV took precedence over the theoretical example being set. Flying to Jamaica to install a low energy bulb being just one rather dubious example.

And at the end I was more than disappointed. Instead of a rational round-up, the overwhelming feeling was one of 'thank heavens that is over'. It was portrayed as a rather unpleasant (Jamaica?) exercise in doing without that was disposed of like this week's refuse. Been there, done that, got the hemp T-shirt... and the promotion.

Were sharing environmental issues always so convenient to package, and then move on from.

Hence I was intrigued to see it reappear again, somewhat out of the blue.

And the topic was not one that had really excised me as barely relevant, namely the human remains element of composting (which obviously still does as a daily household task).

Is it legal to compost your loved ones?

It seems that some anorak has nagged him/them on a point of order, and so he/they (possibly as a requirement of charter) have replied.

It could have been a worthwhile addendum I guess, but came back more as a snipe. But for me, one small thing bubbled up again and made me see red.

'...after the demise of Ethical Man I wanted to move on. I didn’t want to let his shadow affect the rest of my working life...'

Is this just personal, or BBC-endorsed corporate practice after any piece or editorial regarding potentially environmentally sound practices by individuals?

It just rather comes across as a tad 'well, we only got all nanny-eco on you viewers for the programme at the time. That was then. Now there are new ratings to climb.'

So... all back in the 4x4s and off on the international bus... holiday jollies swigging imported water again?

That's the problem one runs into when some messengers undercut the value of the messages they claim to be promoting. Like a Spice doing 'Planet Earth Cool' one week 'for her kids' and hopping a Lear the next.

With luck any future promoters of what 'we' should (or was it always just 'could', a stance I'd favour but seldom how most finger-wagging ecoslots I see tend to come across: 'Ban all plastic bags - except composting ones of course, which only work in vessel and hence are no good in the back garden with Uncle's corpse - and buy a fashion hemp job from my mate's bijou shopette now!!!!') do for 'our' own good may inspect the story chalice they are handed from every angle before they grab the career-enhancing, if limited duration, profile it represents. And fully consider the consequences if not done for all the right reasons.

'Nice, middle class, middle income Yuppie journo dabbled in some cute eco stuff and found it wasn't much fun and cramped a lot of style, not to mention career and social avenues, and so quietly dropped it for the next in line to pick up equally temporarily as he headed to less carbon-friendly pastures'.

Like Mr. Cameron's wind turbine, it may be better to not do it at all than make it seem like a bit of a passing fad.

That is, if Aunty does really think there is a bit of a potentially man-worsened climate change issue it mightn't hurt motivating the public around.

Or is this 'do as we say, not necessarily need to do'?

On reflection I wonder if I was being totally fair. He was just doing his job, and mostly what he was told to do. But that's the point. There is a bigger issue here, and that is the media, and especially our national broadcaster's role in how we portray environmental issues.

On the one hand we have near daily nags and finger-wags and guilt-trips about how we as individuals are not doing all we can to save the planet, and yet so often when it is treated less superficially with a special or an in-depth report the science is so skimpy, the agenda so blatant and/or the reporter so flip that the whole thing just comes across as playing at it to score a cheap topical rating or to fill a target or box-tick.

And so very rarely are real-life, practical ways the normal consumer can do something and still have fun, maybe save some real money get portrayed. Possibly because they are often mundane, and hence not very televisual. Hence we don't get an investigation into why we have packaging that is 'compostable' but actually not unless it is at a special facility (which few will know) or what might happen if we all decided on back-garden loos, a health issue on par with planting Uncle I hazard.

It seems depressingly symbolic. Doing right by the environment seems to be 'so last year'. At least in the way those in the public eye are now coming across. Which is serving the cause poorly.

One reason I have not set myself up as a great example is that I may yet falter. And while what I am doing now is as good as I can be, the demands of career or social pressures may yet also drag me to do things that are not the best examples to set. But at least I have not been saying folk should be doing these things from a very high, but very temporary pedestal. With good reason. Many just don't seem reasonable, or practical, for the vast majority in modern life, and especially without first putting place much better mechanisms to help us.

So the next time we get some well-funded, camera-crew surrounded (it's amazing how the whole town turned out to help) extreme 'eco-hero', I hope those that create the concept bear in mind the consequences when the hero is revealed to be all-too human. Especially when it comes across as not mattering much anyway.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NEWS/GO3 PR - EU LOOKS SET TO FAIL KEY POST-BALI TEST

Next up we have News from the Green Party, which gets it in the GO3 category, but might need to be viewed in a possibly partisan light.

For now, my edit contents itself with a few highlights of the release as provided. I don't necessarily agree with all the ideas flying about, but certainly do recall cocking an eyebrow at the difference between setting targets and actual doing stuff.

So, remind me... how long ago was Bali?

EU LOOKS SET TO FAIL KEY POST-BALI TEST, WARNS GREEN EURO-MP AS COMMISSION FINALLY PREPARES TO UNVEIL POLICY PACKAGE

Green MEP for the South East, Caroline Lucas, has called on the EU to
strengthen its resolve on climate change today, as the European Commission
prepares to present its long-awaited proposals on climate and energy
legislation.

Commenting on the proposals to be announced tomorrow, Dr Lucas said: “The EU
must ensure that it maintains ambition on its climate targets, so that this
new package – which already falls short of what is needed – does not prove
to be full of empty promises.

“In the proposals on emissions trading, Member States have committed to a
30% greenhouse gas reduction by 2020 – the reduction scientists agree is the
minimum necessary – assuming an international agreement is reached. The most
crucial aspect of the Emissions Trading Scheme for meeting the reductions
target is the emissions cap, which must be based on this 30% reduction
target.

“Sadly, the leaked Commission proposals show that the use of CDM/JI and
other external credits will be permitted towards even the 20% unilateral
target. This is in stark contradiction to the Bali decisions where the EU
recognised that keeping climate change to below 2 degrees requires
reductions at the very least in the range of 25-40% for industrialised
countries by 2020. Thus the EC runs thus the risk of rendering the ETS a
toothless instrument.

“At the Bali climate talks, the international community made a commitment to
achieve a comprehensive post-2012 climate agreement by 2009. If such an
agreement is insufficient to prevent unfair environmental dumping to EU
energy-intensive sectors, a climate levy should be introduced with the
revenue invested in a climate adaptation fund - or a requirement to buy EU
emissions allowances corresponding to imports from those sectors (from
countries without reduction commitments for the corresponding sectors)."

Furthermore, Dr Lucas criticised the short-sightedness of Member States on
the fledgling renewables industry and called for stronger legislation which
puts development of renewables at the core of energy policy.

"Member States have been balking at potential renewables targets for some
time now, but expanding renewables is not some punitive means of achieving
climate goals – it is a key means of reducing our dependence on imported
fossil fuels and creating jobs in Europe.

She continued: "Crucially, the target is based on final consumption, so if
you reduce consumption, the target will be easier to meet. Therefore energy
saving and energy efficiency are central to meeting the target."

On the specific EU target for agro-fuels, Dr Lucas concluded:

"The warning signs have been there from the beginning but there is now a
growing consensus among experts, even within the Commission, that agro-fuels
are not a panacea for our climate and energy problems. Worse than that, this
generation of 'biofuels' risks wreaking serious social and environmental
damage without delivering any real emissions reductions.

“The oft-discussed sustainability criteria are very difficult to enforce
and, based on current drafts, would not guarantee any net emissions
reductions in the short-term.

“The exemption from environmental sustainability criteria until 2013 for
biofuels produced by installations that were in operation in January 2008 is
completely unacceptable, as is the proposal that Member States cannot
determine their own broader sustainability criteria. The 10% target for
biofuels (by 2020) is already an anachronism. Member States must scrap it,
and replace their current biofuels policy with a more sustainable
alternative."

CATEGORY - UK COUNCILS

The start of something... long, I'd hazard.

To tie in with the Junkk main site, I'll list as they come in by postcode designation

N1 - Islington

Main Site
Enviro-related
eyesmagazine - a littel bit of Junkk.com on the latest cover!

What goes around?

Here's a nice surprise.

I was at a pre-Xmas event in London, and met a nice lady from Islington Council.

She was rather taken with my 'Green Santa' outfit and asked if she good borrow it for an event they were holding, and I glady agreed.

Well I just got it back and inside was a rather fun image in the form of the Council's eco-publication 'eyesmagazine', and look at the front!

This has now inspired me to create a new set of categories to help further my Blog/site cross pollination. Watch this space. In fact just read the next blog.

NEWS/Commercial PR - 64 per cent of Brits are wasting valuable energy by leaving home appliances on standby

Still getting into the groove of posting such things as 'News' without too much provenace checking or editorialising, but I'm getting there.

I actually owe these guys a product review* anyway, so here you go, hot off the press... releases. All due cautions/caveats for info posted as supplied.

Brits are wasting valuable energy by leaving home appliances on standby

People are still contributing to the four million tonnes of extra carbon dioxide emissions per year caused by standby power according to survey conducted by Bye Bye Standby.

64 per cent of the 1000 people surveyed said they have more than ten appliances plugged in at home at any one time. It has been measured that around 10 per cent of the average household bill is wasted through gadgets left on when not in use.

The survey also asked consumers to select which of the following appliances they think have a standby power (ie. washing machines, televisions, tumble dryers and dishwashers). The correct answer is in-fact that ALL of the appliances use a standby power when they are not in use.

Not surprisingly, the survey revealed that the majority of respondents (90 per cent) knew that televisions have a standby power. However, a large number of people questioned didn’t pick out some of the worst standby offenders. 77 per cent had no clue that tumble dryers can guzzle as much as 38 per cent of their power whilst waiting at the end of a cycle. Equally as confusing, 67 per cent didn’t regard dishwashers as having a standby mode – a worrying finding as most are turned on at the end of the day and left on all night. Washing machines can use around 20 per cent of their normal electricity requirement on standby, and in contrast 66 per cent of people in the survey didn’t even know that a washing machine has a standby power!

Not all products have an obvious standby power, which is where the confusion lies. If it has an external power supply it will use electricity even when off.

Here's a plug (sorry), as they deserve it:

Bye Bye Standby is an energy saving kit for the home which allows you to control appliances with the aid of a remote control. An innovative new web based system has also just been launched to allow users to control home appliances from a remote location via the Internet.

What appliances are the worst standby offenders?

Dishwashers left on at the end of their cycle consume 70 per cent of the power used when they are running.

The average television is left on standby for up to 17.5 hours a day. Last year Britain's 62 million television sets consumed about eight per cent of their energy consumption in standby mode.

Washing machines use just under 20 per cent of their normal electricity requirement on standby.

Tumble-dryers can use 38 per cent of power while waiting at the end of a cycle.

If lights were turned off when not in use it would prevent 375,000 tons of CO2 emissions and save £55million in bills.

There is little difference between the power requirement of digital receivers when they are being used and on standby.

Other appliances with high standby power are cordless telephones, radios and stereos.

*Meanwhile, you can always try Which?


Ethics is as ethics don't

Is ethical marketing an impossibility?

I don't pretend to have fully thought through, and hence comprehended the full consequences of the literal semantics involved in joining the words 'ethical' and 'marketing' (pause to gulp down a breath), but allowing for a pragmatic acceptance of the realities of existing in a consumer-driven society I don't see why not.

Having gone through the whole ethical is/isn't/and/or/complement thing with Newsnight's Ethical (or did they mean sustainable) Man a while ago, the definition is a bit broad. Are we talking putting sweat shops completely out of business because they employ kids and it's better the West feels warm 'n fuzzy now than they get fed tomorrow, or advertising a hybrid Chelsea tractor?

Ain't easy. If it's planet saving I'd say flogging any new stuff at the expense of reducing, reusing or repairing it's hardly the best green option, but in reality some are better than nothing if they move us in a better direction.

Ok, it's been a tough day so far

It’s green Gordon versus Felix, the filthy rich forester

What we need is a few more breath's of pragmatic air like this around to make a real difference.

And it seems to be the individual entrepreneurs we need to turn to.

Like politicians and hence governments and LAs and NGOs, even corporations are more concerned with what looks good than does any.

Hence we have more going down in the name of green that is either sidelining major issues or possibly plain not making the planet better for my kids.

For an example of how complex it can be, see here:

http://junkk.blogspot.com/2007/11/junkk-category-plastic-bags.html

Maybe we need the likes of Mr. Dennis or maybe a Dyson to go the route of Google and fund genuine 'doing' ideas that are trying to make a difference, rather than the current crop of bottomless green pit quangocracies that are designed mainly to fund their bloated, self-serving infrastructures and comms budgets first before doling anything out to things that mainly tick the right boxes.

Enter the Dragon('s Den)









In the next few weeks/months I face the prospect of dealing with potential BAs, VCs and/or direct customers at major companies. Dilbert understands.

A tale of two Macs


And what a tale it is. The good, the bad... and the ugly.

We have a rare case of genuine good design and service. Some rather less wonderful bits. And perhaps the most annoying... and telling example of corporate greed I can imagine.

The Good

See that picture? That what a very powerful computer came in. I was/am impressed. Not just what didn't need to go into the making of the thing, but also how little required to be packaged.

Also there has been the basic plug and play nature of the handover.

And finally the support. Free (for 90 days, local tel rates) and so far all problems solved

The Bad

The fact that it now won't work some old stuff that was/is still perfectly good.

The Ugly

The attitude of a software company, FileMaker, to this situation. I was going live with it and fester. Luckily, I had a vent source presented:

Guardian - Buy a new Mac running Leopard, or wait?

On a related issue, 'The quick tale of the £30 software that became several hundred', which does not reflect in my view well on the marketing policies of some companies and indeed can often have serious consequences to the environment. A few weeks ago I was mailed by FileMaker about Bento, which looked a nifty little bit of £30 Address Book software to add to my Mac Mini. Trouble was, it only would work with Leopard, and mine was a first model running Tiger. Ok... time for a software upgrade. Now it was an extra £100. Trouble was, Leopard was going to stretch the hardware capabilities of my aging Mini, so for various other reasons (more memory, USB 2.0, etc) I decided to get a new one. Trouble is... having gone through all that, guess what? My new Mac Mini running Leopard will not now run my current version of FileMaker. It would be funny if it were not tragic. Now I have come to accept, if not like, that if one wants to run the latest bloatware version of some software, you often need to upgrade to, and pay for the latest bloatOS taboot, to run it. With all hardware consequences. But this new wrinkle just miffs me. I have perfectly good software running perfectly well and my brand new machine is not backward compatible. And FileMaker's response? 'Tough! It's not supported. No upgrade. Start again. Buy v9... that's £250 please.' I'm sure Apple are probably not innocent in all this, but for what it is worth, and hugging a Redwood Tree as I write, the new machine is a honey, and while I did need the phone support several times to help the migration (bit of fun with the assumption that in going from a Mini to a Mini two monitors would magically exist on my desk), this was truly slick, along with the auto back-up Time Machine, which is awesome. Also, on a small eco note. I am looking at a packaging box about the size of two telephone directories with a bit of foam inside as big as last night's meal tray. I know Mac are not the highest on the green IT list, but to get a wee box tucked away on my desktop doing all I could wish with so little manufacturing and delivery consequences impressed a lot. Anyway, as I don't feel like giving FileMaker my continued custom, as they are stuffing me back to square one can anyone suggest an alternative database software I can put in my new Mac that will grow with me into the far future?

Times - Get a green glow in your home office - Spreading the joy

Writing about two sets of wrong

A top-sliced licence fee will trigger the BBC's destruction

'...the BBC, which is more loved and trusted than any government can hope to be.'

Everything is relative, I suppose. So an interesting defence position.

But I really wish those who enjoy our attention by virtue of where they are rather than who, and often seek/claim to speak for us (by claiming they 'know' what 'we' are thinking but usually are content to simply hector at instead) would stop this habit of making sweeping statements of fact that lack any valid substantiation.

For a start I rather doubt the whole country feels the same way about anything.

And now moving onto percentages, I reject the notion that a pol on a fact-finding tour surrounded by minders has any hope in hell of finding out what most average, working, licence-fee paying without option under threat of prison folk feel about Aunty than those they have on speed dial to pop into the studios from their North London boudoirs.

Parts of the BBC are great. Some of the BBC staff are great. A whole bunch else is/are not. And needs to change... or be changed.