How many times do we listen to adverts on the radio that nearly always end with all the terms and conditions applying to the offer that has just been advertised. An example might be
"Previously offered at a higher price; terms and conditions apply; item may not be returned; allow three weeks for delivery; postage and packing added to price; no responsibility for misleading details; purchasers must be over 18; only available online; not available outside the UK; your choice of colour may not be available."
That's great and at least you can't claim you weren't told. But it is always spoken at the speed of light. Try it yourself as quickly as you can with someone listening then ask them to repeat it. You could be forgiven for not hearing all the detail. However, the advertiser is NOT going to forgive you because the terms and conditions were stated with the advert and, as I said, you can hardly claim that it wasn't included. I'd like to know what the Advertising Standards Agency would have to say about this if you were to be involved in a dispute.
Today our weekly Radio Times dropped in the letterbox. By the time we had discarded the plastic wrapper and sorted out all the advertising material and calls on our charity, we were finally able to read it.
I weighed the pile of leaflets etc and they came to approximately 250gms. Looking at the Radio Times circulation figures I see that they distributed 1 million copies during the past 12 months. A quick bit of arithmetic shows that over the year the RT therefore sends out 250 tons of excess paper - most of which goes straight in the bin. This is just one magazine in one country.
Do we really need all this useless paper? At a time when we are being exhorted to think of the human impact on the climate and on natural resources, could we not save a few forests around the world by cutting out this waste?
A few days ago I posted about the word Tsundoku (theres-a-word-for-that.html) - the habit of buying books that get piled up in the bookcase or bedroom but hardly ever opened. I wrote about the reasons why many of us might be "guilty" of this. Well here's a sobering thought that might make you open one or more of your piled-up books.
Research suggests that readers fall approximately into three categories: Average; Voracious; and Super Reader. It further reckons that an average reader will read 12 books a year; a voracious reader 50 and a super reader 80. Now let us suppose that serious reading starts at the age of 10 years (probably earlier for some. I know my grandsons were bookworms from the age of 5). Then consider an average life span of 70 (three score years and ten). That means an average reading "life" of 60 years.
So, in their lifetime, an average reader will get through 720 books; a voracious reader 3000; and a super reader 4800. The British Library holds about 14 million books. Therefore two facts emerge; first you'd better start reading if you want to make a TINY hole in that number; second you'll have to be very selective about what you read if you are not to waste one of your lifetime "allowance" on something that starts to drag halfway through.
In fact things are rather more alarming than this because the figures assume that you have been reading since the age of 10 years. A more sobering way of looking at this is to work out how many books anyone has left to read at any given age. An average reader aged 60, for example, has 120 books "left". For me, aged 74, I must be on borrowed reading time!
One of my interests is reading. But I confess to a bad habit; I am forever buying or acquiring new books, adding them to my shelves but never actually opening them. Did you know that the Japanese have a word for this? It's TSUNDOKU. This is a combination of several Japanese words, including “tsunde,” which means to stack things; “oku,” which means to leave for a while; and “doku,” which means to read. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this lovely drawing below (courtesy of whoever drew it) illustrates that beautifully.
Why do we do this? (I say "we" because I am sure I am not unique in this habit). First, I think it has a lot to do with the love of books themselves, their look, feel and smell. Second is the pleasure of buying and owning something (some call this retail therapy). Third - and here I refer to one of my own life philosophies - books piled up give you something to look forward to. I believe that having something to look forward to is one of the essentials of a contented existence. It's that Christmas feeling before the great day; it's that anticipation of an upcoming holiday; and it's the appetite before a restaurant meal.
So why don't I open the books then? Well, it was Robert Louis Stevenson who once said "To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive." My interpretation of this is that, all too often, things don't live up to their promise. The anti-climax after the Christmas festivities; the carefully-chosen holiday hotel that turns out to be a big disappointment; the much-acclaimed restaurant that leaves a poor taste in your mouth and a hole in your wallet. At least leaving books temptingly on the shelf staves off a disappointing "arrival".
I regularly help out older folk with their computers. Some of their difficulties are down to how they are doing things wrongly or to arthritic fingers and they can be forgiven for that. Time and again, however, the problems they have result from wretched Windows 10. Technology (and any product in fact) is subject to a process called "continuous improvement" which is why there are so many updates and newer versions of everything to be temptingly downloaded. Worse still, the default with Windows is to install updates and features automatically unless the user carefully monitors update processes. Even when an update is accepted, it often happens that the display settings and desktop layout (the User Interface [UI]) change significantly from before the update. Nothing is guaranteed to confuse an older person more than to change something they have managed to get used to. The trouble with software today - and Windows is typical - is that it is so packed full with features that the average user would never need. I always say that it is like being compelled to buy a Rolls Royce when all you need is a Mini to get to the shops. Why can't big vendors produce cut-down, simple versions for those who don't want and will never use the "bells and whistles"?
I like to take up new capabilities in technology and try them out. A recent addition to phone apps is mobile banking. By taking a scan of a cheque to be paid into one’s account you can pay that cheque in immediately over the internet. However, I believe there is a security flaw in the app - not with the technology or the internet but with old fashioned human issues. Once the deposit is completed by the mobile app you are instructed to write “Deposited” on the back and file the cheque away. This seems to me to be very wrong since it leaves the deposited cheque in the public domain whilst containing all the details of the account including the signature. I tried to explain this to my local branch of the bank concerned (which I have kept undisclosed) but the reply amounted to “So?” Probably an issue for me to take further with the said bank.
Put me right if I am missing something please. I thought that the purpose of the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was to require all websites to seek your agreement to data held about you and what they do with it (with particular reference to sharing with other organisations and websites). So far so good; laudable intentions. However, it seems that this is now being widely interpreted as REQUIRING visitors to a site to ACCEPT their data policies - especially the holding and sharing of your personal data - as a condition of being able to access their site. Some sites play the game and have links to the lists of their data and sharing relationships and sometimes you can untick the boxes of those external organisations you do not want your information to be shared with. Too many sites, though, offer no option to approve data usage but deny site entry unless you agree. This seems completely wrong to me and a retrograde step in the usefulness and ethics of the internet, but I am prepared to accept that I have misinterpreted both the intention and the mechanics of these pop up notices.
In simple terms, a blog (which is short for a Web Log) is like a diary or a Captain's Log on a ship. Unlike web site pages that are static and only change when there is a need for an update or addition, blogs constantly introduce new material. Entries are called "posts" and are usually written and owned by the website owner or administrator. The post can be anything that the writer feels he or she would like to share with visitors to the web site. It might be an item of news; a technology tip or comment; an interesting or amusing snippet, picture or joke; an observation on current issues; or something the writer wants a mild "rant" about.
Though some blogs have a distinctly political flavour or bias others are intended to be everyday fun. Inevitably they may reflect the views or opinions of the writer but should never be written deliberately to upset readers. Unlike other forms of social media (Facebook, Twitter etc) which have an element of spontaneity about them (often in the heat of the moment), blogs are usually written with some degree of thought before pressing the send button.
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