Friday, 31 August 2007

The power of social networks ...

I've long been interested in the social networking phenomena and particularly how it polarises opinions. Of all the recent incarnations, the one that has polarised the most opinion has to be Facebook. Now, I've posted before about it (and if you want a more in depth view I can heartily recommend JP Rangaswami's blog - confused of calcutter) but this mornings article made me smile and I just had to post part of it here.

Under the title Facebook Revolt forces HSBC U-turn the article reports that ...

"....HSBC on Thursday reversed its decision to take away students’ interest-free overdrafts as soon as they leave university after it suffered a consumer revolt by graduates on the pages of Facebook, the cult social-networking site.
The bank said it was not “too big” to listen to customers and that it would freeze interest charges on overdrafts up to £1,500 for students who graduated this summer, repaying any interest charged in August....... "
"......The move would have cost a graduate who had the maximum interest-free overdraft of £1,500 nearly £12 a month, or more than £142 a year. But a group set up a month ago on Facebook by Wes Streeting, a vice-president of the National Union of Students, called “Stop the Great HSBC Graduate Rip-Off”, attracted strong support from members of the social-networking site which is hugely popular with students and graduates.
The group, which attracted more than 5,000 members, caused acute embarrassment to HSBC at a time when all high street banks are busy marketing their services to young people arriving at university for the first time this September.
Mr Streeting said: “There can be no doubt that using Facebook made the world of difference to our campaign.
“By setting up a group on a site that is incredibly popular with students, it enabled us to contact our members during the summer vacation far more easily than would otherwise have been possible.
“It also meant that we could involve our former members – the graduates who were going to be most affected by this policy.”
"..... On Thursday Andy Ripley, HSBC’s head of product development, announced the climbdown and said the bank would work with the NUS to “enhance our new account offer so that it fully reflects the needs of recent graduates”.
Members of the group celebrated the bank’s U-turn by posting messages on the campaign’s Facebook page..."

As Wolfie Smith would say - power to the people !

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Rocking Robben

So finally young Arjen Robben is off to Madrid with a healthy £25m coming back the other way. Not bad on a £12m investment for a guy who spent much of his time on the treatment table. What will be interesting now is who comes in. The Avles saga is just getting silly with Seville trying to play hardball however there are also rumours today about Barca's Brazilian Juliano Belletti being a viable alternative - we'll see

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

On immersion therapy ....

... or why grown ups just don't get it (.....and maybe we never will)

I posted a long time ago about Second Life and Facebook and how I didn't really understand the attraction of either. Just to recap, I considered Second Life to be an unsatisfactory role based gaming experience and I didn't understand why we needed yet another way to interact and communicate online using Facebook.

I was of course deluged by people who would gleefully tell me that "I just didn't get it". As was my wont back then, I listened carefully, read diligently and then simply concluded that everyone was wrong :-)

Well it turns out that I was wrong - I didn't get it ..... and the worrying thing is that my generation (if you don't know me, I've slipped into the wrong half of my mid forties) don't get it and in all probability may never get it.

The "it" that I'm referring to is what happens when someone immerses themselves completely in an experience. I realised this when a colleague (of similar age) and I were discussing our Second Life and Facebook experiences. What became clear was that we used them as you would use any other computer applications or game. We started them up, used them for a while, shut them down, went and used something else, came back etc etc ..... which is a very structured and detached relationship. My kids, and those that I know, use these solutions very differently. They immerse themselves in them. In the case of Second Life, adopting genuine persona's, constructing new relationships/interactions and behaving in a new way as a result. Actually, if you watch committed gamers playing the current genre of networked computer games they do the same. It seems to be the same with Facebook. Of course my daughter could phone, txt, IM or email her friends to tell them how shes feeling - but she doesn't - she updates her status in Facebook to reflect her mood and then interacts with her friends using it (and its associated application)s to communicate all manner of related feelings, information and activities as a result.

And maybe that's the point, and the real reason why 'grown ups don't get it'. We've forgotten what its like to be immersed in something and to engage at that level. We are too thoughtful and practical. We are looking to use something to get something done. We are academically interested and deal in practicality rather than allowing ourselves to become immersed in the emotional impact.

Maybe its just part of growing up ....and maybe, if we really want to understand this stuff, we need to stop behaving and thinking like adults. Now, what would that bring ... ???

Just a thought ...

Monday, 20 August 2007

Wilma Finstone

The BBC have stopped this being embedded or edited but it still has the best opening sequence of the Red Dwarf series - click and enjoy

but do be sure and click back :-)

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Liverpool vs Chelsea ... this cant keep happening ...

How many times will Chelsea go a goal behind in the first third of the first half of a game!!
Jose made an 'interesting' (translates as weird) choice today in playing Essien at right back and SWP in a midfeild slot behind Drogba. All it seemed to do was make the midfield look pretty lightweight. .... and within 15mins Torres skins Ben-Hiam and Liverpool are ahead. Still, Terry does go close just before the break so maybe the second half will be better for the mighty Blues.

Second half brings changes with Pizzaro on for Kalu and a more traditional 4-4-2 with SWP out wide and within 3mins Pizzaro misses a sitter. Liverpool come back with bright quick football and suddenly its all end to end, a bit frantic and just a little bit bad tempered. On the hour the ref gives us a crazy penalty which Lamps buries apparently for a foul on Malouda. But it only adds to the frantic and scrappy second half. Joe Cole comes on as the clock hits the 75min mark but its same old same as up to the final whistle.

Liverpool fume about the penalty that should never have been but Jose looks happy with an away point.

SkySports report,19764,11065_2861120,00.html.

Why I play guitar the way I do (youtube update)

I'm a fan of youtube; yes, I know there's some distasteful stuff out there, but I love the way I'm continually surprised by what I can find. Anyway, recently I wondered if I could update my guitar playing post with actual video referenecs and of course I could .... so here goes....

5 reasons why I play the way I do

1. Let It Be - the Beatles
the first guitar solo I ever learned note for note

2. Suffragette City - David Bowie
the first solo I payed live back in 1975 (yes I did start playing quite late) and I think I played it better than this (and had better trousers)

3. Live and Dangerous - Thin Lizzy
Still probably the greatest live album even and I learnt the whole thing, from track1/side1 - Jailbreak right through to the close of side4 - The Rocker. The only trouble was that I learnt the whole thing half a tone down so "Ab" instead of "A" as I never knew they tuned down by a half when playing live to help Phil Lynott's vocals. Still it taught me some interesting shapes :-).

4. One more for the road - Lynyrd Skynyrd - T for Texas - Gimme 3 steps - Freebird

I went to the "One more for the British Road" tour and saw one of the last shows before the fateful plane crash that prematurely ended the lives of singer/songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines, and vocalist Cassie Gaines, as well as seriously injuring the rest of the band and crew.
Anyway, in the late 70's the band I was with had a local residency where the Landlord was a huge Skynyrd fan and insited on our set being closed with Freebird. Gimme 3 Steps, Sweet Home and T for Texas occasionally made their way into the set but Freebird was always the close or encore

5. Strangers in the Night / MSG - UFO/ Michael Schenker - Lights Out into the arena
A hugely underrated talent, many of today's uber flash players owe a huge debt to Michael Schenker who with his trademark flying V (or arrow as he called it), Marshall 50W stack and use of wah wah as a tone effect completely change my ideas of melodic soloing.

Beyond these "five reasons", here are some other awesome guitar talents that I wish I could get close to.

Joe Satriani - just the absolute best - bar none - always with me always with you (still my favourite)

Gary Moore - fastest (and most emotive) right and left hands I'd ever seen - from the Montreau jazz festival (a Roy Buchanon number that sounds like an inversion of Parisian walkways)

Eddie Van Halen - wrote the book on tapping, the first and the best - Eruption (from 1994)

Mike Petrucci - Dream Theatres wonder player, probably the best of the techno players and does just about everything - hollow years - Erotomania

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Learning from your kids .... cont

I've no idea how long I'm gonna continue this topic - I guess until my kids stop surprising me so it'll probably run forever .....

Anyway, I always said I'd never be like my parents when it came to music. If I had £1 for every time my father came upstairs to tell me to "turn that bl**dy racket down" when the Marshall was cranked up and I was practising along to something suitably heavy, I'd be a wealthy man right now.

I'm sure his comments were more often than not directed at the songs rather than my skills as a guitarist (I hope) but recently I have caught myself doing the same thing and its quite a frightening experience. So imagine my surprise when my 19 year old daughter gives me a CD and says "just put this in the car and drive".

We'll I'm 9 tracks in, haven't heard a duffer yet and I'm suitably surprised. The band are Fall Out Boy and I'm sure lots of people know them. Now this doesn't make me 'down wiv da kids' or increase my cool / street cred one iota but hey - it made me smile

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Can we really play 4-4-2 ??

Reading vs Chelsea ....... and a first half where the mighty blues could have been 3 down and are frankly very lucky to go in only 1-0 down at half time. No steel in the middle, Lampard hardly got a touch and Sidwell looks overawed by his return to his former club. The only bright spot is the industry of SWP but this formation looks alien and a back four without JT is woefully exposed - Carvallio goes off injured and is replaced by Johnson so things look bad. Needs to be a lot better in the second half.....

..... and so it does. Jose brings on the Jedi (Obi Mikel) and Pizzaro for Ferrera and Sidwell - SWP goes to right back and within 5 minutes its 2-1 with goals from Lamps and Drogba. Suddenly the Blues are all over Reading for about 10 mins before it settles down to some exciting end to end stuff .... but still not the solid dominant Chelsea that we're used to.
After Reading go down to 10 men, its all Chelsea again but a third goal doesn't come and its the usual last 5 minutes scramble to the final whistle.

OK, so yes its another win, its maximum points from the first two games but if things aren't tighter by the time we play Liverpool at the weekend, it will be a very different story.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

More on the Alves sarga

According to SkySports,,19528,11668_2661595,00.html

there are reports in the Spanish media that claim that Chelsea have agreed a deal to sign Daniel Alves following extensive negotiations with Sevilla.
Peter Kenyon was supposedly in Madrid this week, to hold talks with Sevilla vice-president Jose Maria Cruz and their director of sport Ramon Rodriquez Monchi.
It has been reported in Spain that the two clubs have now concurred on a fee of around 32 million euros (£25million).

...... and if this means that Glenn 'toilet seat' Johnson is shown the door then its money well spent.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Footy's back

... and everything that goes with being a Chelsea fan. Starting the season at home against Birmingham and all the expectation of a big win. Surprisingly Drogba manages to make the bench and Chelsea begin with some awesome flowing football. Malouda looks top class in a new 4-4-2 formation and the ball is popped all over the park. SWP is bright but Glen 'toilet seat' Johnson looks as erratic as ever. And alomst on queue, Chelsea go behind to a set piece ..... only to then drive on to a 2-1 lead - goals from Pizzaro and Malouda before Birmingham level things just before half time. Its alarmingly predictable for a Chelsea side without JT, lots of style but suspect at the back ... and frankly Glen Johnson doesn't help.

Second half and an Essien guided missile makes it 3-2 and normal service is resumed before the appearance of Drogba just after the hour. However 4-4-2 still looks, at times, an uncomfortable formation and there are way too many gaps in midfield that a better team will surely exploit if they are not addressed. On the bright side however Malouda looks like one hell of a good buy, its a 3 point start and 64 home games unbeaten - that's Liverpool's record overtaken - almost inevitably.

Its gonna be an entertaining season .....Come on you Blues

Friday, 10 August 2007

Robben and Drente

so that nice Mr Arnesen is Dutch, never works behind Jose's back and is "incredibily well respected in Holland" .... in his own mind (??) yet when Roysten D needs to choose a club he picks Real and when Robben wants to jump he jumps to Real.... Maybe we'd all be happier if Frankie A did likewise.
... just a view