A New Beginning

Over the past few months I’ve been thinking about getting back in to Podcasting. Since moving to Cornwall I’ve been able to record two shows which really isn’t enough considering I used to do one nearly every day! I’ve decided to put up an archive of shows to fill that gap with a view to launching something properly in the next few weeks. One thing I noticed when I left Rhubarb Radio was that I was used to interacting with a team and producing a structured show which fit the Saturday morning slot perfectly. Podcasting is different, it’s on demand and can be listened to anyone, anywhere, around the world. I need to produce something that is going to fit that whilst at the same time bringing that independent music I’ve been championing for ten years to the masses. I’m going to be contacting local bands down here to start sourcing some music. Cornwall is a rich, vibrant cultural county and I need to champion that on whatever show I decide to run with.

I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis with the shows recently. I managed to get Midsweep for the Masses! out finally (after about 4 tries) but it didn’t feel quite right. The whole thing with Rhubarb Radio has left me a bit deflated, but maybe it’s time to move on properly. When I decided to bring it back 3 years ago it felt as though that was something for me to use to hold on to Birmingham with but it’s not quite worked like that. Moving made it hard to keep things going and the people that expressed interest at the time moved on to Brum Radio. I don’t blame them, it’s what Birmingham needed after the way Rhubarb left them feeling the first time around. I think it’s time for me to be me. I know that sounds contrived and pretentious, but it’s how I feel at the moment. It’s time for something new, something that reignites my passion for this whilst at the same time celebrates the beautiful place where I live.

Retweeting: Chain Letters of the Twitterverse?

Over the past few days there have been plenty of tweets that I’ve thought needed passing on to others, or retweeting. Twestival is happening this week and my old chum Phil Campbell is planning on attending five of them in one day, Gumballstyle. Twitter is the type of place where not everyone who follows Phil will follow me, so retweeting messages asking for people who are interested in sponsoring this mean feat helps spread the word.

I don’t retweet often, but when I do it’s because of a story I’d like to share with my 500 odd followers and it’s usually followed up with a tweet on my thoughts on the subject. It does help people get their word across and when other people give their input, it’s even better.

What prompted me to write this post was a comment I saw on the feed of @PleaseRetweet which is, quite simply, a bot that looks for the “Please Retweet” phrase and then posts it. Simple really. After one of the RTs another one came through;

@ringorang Tweets beginning “please retweet” are the chain letters of the Twitter world. I don’t do chain letters, sorry! 😛

Now I’m not saying that ReTweeting everything that people ask is a valid excercise, but surely if you what they’re trying to get across is worthwhile and important to you, you should be sharing it with others on Twitter.

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What’s happened to customer service?

Free broadband. Sounds good, doesn’t it? After a series of bad experiences with broadband over the past few years, I decided to go with TalkTalk. It meant leaving BT, perhaps the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced and just having to pay for the line rental and the calls we make.

Since then I’ve had a pretty appalling experience whenever I’ve had to contact them, which is at least once a month. Direct Debits haven’t been taken when they should have, it took them two weeks to respond to a technical query and every time I speak to them on the phone, I get so frustrated that I want to shout like a madman at the ‘customer service representative on the other end of the phone.

The actual service we’re receiving is fine. It’s quite fast, somewhat reliable and for £10ish a month it’s something I can’t fault. I’m just beginning to wonder how companies can get away with treating their customers like dirt, when without them they would be out of business.

Today sees the launch of their new ‘boost’ options. Up to 24mbps, double the download allowance and a couple of others for £4 on top each month. So far I’ve not been able to find out where to add these features on, but if they work, I’m sure they’ll be more than worth it.

It’s interesting to see whether companies will look to improve their service in the future, especially seeing as they might be getting more and more desperate for business in the near future.

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After the dust has settled, will anything change?

After 37,500 complaints, Johnathan Ross has been suspended for three months without pay. Will that bother him? Probably not, he’ll only be losing out on £1million.

Michael Lyons, BBC Trust chairman, said today the BBC must be “firmer on excesses” and has asked for a further report in to how the programme was approved for broadcast. What I can’t help thinking about is the producer of the show. Initially people were commenting about how he/she should have been more responsible in the cutting of all of the objectionable material from the pre-recorded broadcast.

When the number of complaints rose, attention turned to Ross and Brand, two personalities that have made their living by taking risks and sometimes doing questionable things – often on live TV/Radio. What happened to the producer of the show? Were they shown the door before Brand resigned? I’m sure it’ll be published in a tabloid near you soon.

It’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out now that the main players have been “dealt with”, especially as it doesn’t look as though the number of complaints is going to continue to rise as the days go on. I could carry on talking about this for the next three months, but I have more pressing matters to attend to.

Do you think we’ve heard the last of Jonathan Ross? No, neither do I.

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Can Villa Break the Top Four?

Alex Ferguson reckons Villa are “the only team he can realistically see challenging for a place in the top four”. That’s quite a compliment, especially considering his past history with the club and our players.

It will be interesting to see how our relatively small squad actually copes with so many fixtures this season. The new signings are beginning to get regular places in the starting line-up, but we still have a wealth of talent on the bench as well as the likes of Delfouneso looking to break through whenever they get the chance.

We have the ability to play attractive, attacking football, but if we are genuinely going to challenge for those Champions League places we need to get results against the ‘big four’ and really make Villa Park a difficult place to come.

After years of nothing to shout about, I’m looking forward to us getting back to where we belong. Whether that will happen this season or not, remains to be seen.

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Brand and Ross Suspended: Whole Thing Blown Out of Proportion

The BBC have announced today that Russell Brand and Johnathan Ross have been suspended following a series of prank calls to Andrew Sachs broadcast on Brand’s pre-recorded show on October 18th.

I don’t condone what Brand and Ross did on their show, but MPs calling for them to lose their jobs and the BBC suspending them until the incident is investigated is just blowing everything out of proportion. When the news initially broke, only a handful of complaints were made.

This is yet another case of overreaction by the British media to goad people in to complaining, even if they didn’t actually hear the incident first hand. When the news first broke, our local news reported 67 complaints, not even a handful of Brand’s total audience. After the Daily Mail featured a report on it, OfCom then decided to investigate the incident. A few days later, over 18,000 complaints and the whole thing is what everyone is talking about.

The mistake here really lies with the production team. The show was not live, it was pre-recorded, giving the producer a chance to completely cut the prank. Reports suggest that there was more that they didn’t actually broadcast, so why did some of the incident survive the cutting room floor?

Brand and Ross are two of the most popular figures on the BBC. Love them or hate them, they attract massive audiences to their Radio and TV programmes. To sack them for something that is no more than a prank taken too far would be an overreaction.

The winner in all of this is the woman right in the middle of it; Georgina Baillie, the 23 year-old burlesque dancer who has confirmed that she had a ‘brief’ fling with Brand. She’s now front page of most of the tabloids, which I’m sure will land her a lot more attention to her MySpace page (and her dance troupe).

At least it takes some of the attention of the downturn/recession/global finanical meltdown.

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