Thursday 29 March 2018

What about a "G7" on Advertising?

Possible Side Effects "... Can be Fatal." Really?

Isn't it time for a governing body for advertising? Normally I only see the North American ads but I am sure all members of the developed world are subjected to similar assaults involving falsehoods and blatant lies.

If nothing else, isn't it insulting how many companies seem to consider us to be total imbeciles? To be fair I suppose some people out there probably do need to be told not to ingest a particular product, even when they already know they are allergic to it!

After many decades don't you wonder just how many times a leading laundry detergent can be "New and Improved?" If they are going to persist isn't it time to see a man doing laundry and holding up his sparkling white sheets with a glowing smile on his face as though he just won the lottery - the highlight of his day? Really? Aren't women somewhere just screaming about this?

What about all of the CYA statements made right at the end of an ad at some ridiculous speed that sounds like someone pressed FF on the recording.?This stuff might be legal but it is impossible to hear. The scary thing is that's the way they want it. Really?

Here is another I have mentioned in my Pet Peeves posting: commercials that are programmed to broadcast several decibels higher than the rest of a broadcast. At least one network stated that they can't control this. Really?

One of the chemical cleaners that is supposed to remove lime, rust, calcium and just about everything else should be kicked off the air. Stains in some fixture or on some wall that look like they are ten years old and impregnated right into the material disappear with a single swipe of the sponge! Really?

The worst has to be those - and there are many - which actually do have a narrator you can understand but when you hear the possible side effects, phrases like "possibly fatal" or "side effects that have included death!" are included. Am I going to buy this? Really?

There is a great documentary about the VW diesel scandal where false claims were made for years about how clean burning their latest diesel motors were. This is an example where eventually - after years - there were huge fines and some prison time imposed. Their customer base probably took a big hit as a result. Well deserved.

It is doubtful whether any government involvement is likely to occur or to be effective. This might be possible within a given country but probably not internationally. In the VW case they actually found that several European administrations were OK with it. Really?

It would be nice to think that an international consumer group would be effective but who has the private funds for that? Some billionaire(s) could take it on - as long as affronts such as those above didn't help to make them their billions in the first place

Best of all the large corporations should police each other and bring the guilty to account for false claims. The group would be self-funded by membership fees for example. Companies willing to do this might indeed win customer loyalty. The great thing is that this would probably be the cheapest method and therefore the most likely to have an effect. Shutting down the false claims of one company would surely benefit those bringing the charges. Companies would have to join to be a member and presumably forgo any right to sue the association or any of its members if a ruling goes against them.

The toughest part would probably be to get consumers to actually band together to stop buying the guilty company's product. If we did you can be sure it would work. Likewise companies that refused to join such a group should also be blackballed by consumers.

This solution places the onus back on the perpetrators to solve the problem. Some self regulating associations - in finance for example - don't work but that is usually where the "crimes" can be covered up by the group. In this case  the group itself would censure its own members. There might be some dirty manoeuvering and internal collusion between companies but at least it would be THEIR problem.

Anybody got any other ideas?

The Brewster

Monday 26 March 2018

Do You have a Stormy Daniels?

Stormy Daniels Will Bring Stormy Weather for Sure.

Is there a Stormy in your background - male or female? That should be a simple question to answer. Why are you taking so long?

I guess to qualify it would have to involve an illicit affair with full privileges - while also being in what was understood to be a monogamous relationship. Then at some point you kind of forgot the mono part.

If this happened to you, did your relationship survive or will it if your Stormy finally comes out of  the closet? Where is this mysterious closet anyway, from which so much stuff emerges voluntarily or otherwise? Might be worth checking out. I guess we are fortunate - our closets are so full nothing is going to reside in them without our knowledge. 

If a Stormy incident were to happen shortly after the birth of a child, I have to think most relationships would not survive, or at least they would be radically altered. We shall see with the one currently in the news. It isn't a love triangle - more like a glove triangle with the gloves now off. Stormy did not hit the matt in the first round. I think she will also last the next 11. 

Poor Melania and Barron. Melania might have anticipated something like this - Barron certainly not. Perhaps the one good thing which might evolve from this  mess is that the boy learns from all of the negative buzz that this is NOT how to act - even with the famous surname.

Most people wish him and his mother all the best. I do. I don't think I have ever seen them smile.

The Brewster

Sunday 18 March 2018

Is God a Woman or a Man?

A Very Old Question Still Very Taboo

According to the Bible and I suspect most holy books, God created woman from Adam’s ribs. Man’s ribs have never been the same.  Women make us laugh until our ribs hurt; cry until our ribs hurt; exert ourselves sexually until our ribs hurt (I wish); dissuade us from eating too many ribs; and they have been generally ribbing us ever since.
I think we are lucky that God (reputed to be male) created breasts to cover Eve’s ribs. You see He was probably going to create a third sex from Eve’s ribs; then a fourth from the third sex’s ribs, etc. How many sexes would we have had today? What a mess that would have caused. We can’t even handle two – OK some today would say the number of sexes or preferences is actually four or six or seven.
Thankfully, it never happened. I think He was distracted by His own creation - female breasts. One look and it was probably "Wow - I’ve really outdone myself this time. They’re not bad!  Now what was I about to do next? I don’t remember”. Hence there are only two 2 sexes. Breasts have always stupefied men, even great men. Oh yes – and yours truly.
Some argue that God is a woman. Most men can't decorate their way out of a paper bag let alone decorate an entire planet. It would explain the history of the earth - ice, stone, and modern ages; multiple races; varying climates; a full range of geography; the evolution of the species. God changed her mind – frequently of course!
Problem: If God were a woman and created man first, then every female thereafter would have disliked God. No, a woman would have created a woman first. The reverse doesn’t make sense. Of course when did a woman ever make any sen ... no, better not go there.
Different consideration: Many women have absolutely no use for men let alone give up a rib for them. It would be a unisex world - female only, if God were a woman and first created another woman. It is clearly not. Also, women would have no other sex to dump on in this case. Thus God would have really screwed up if she had created women only. We all know women NEVER screw up.
There you have it. God must be a man.
Don't get me wrong - I admire and envy women. However they do have a distinct advantage over most men - their partners are usually men (I can just hear the gasps and the cursing) - not always, but usually. I believe the world would be a better place if there were more women heads-of-state. There have been some great leaders who were women. They were tough when they had to be. I believe a woman is inclined to have a more humane nature than a man. Humane women can turn on their tough nature easier than tough men can turn on their tender nature. Consider this as well: If a female politician is caught in a covert sexually compromising situation she can run faster with her skirt up than a man can with his pants down! Also, with heels it is much more difficult to put her foot in her mouth.
Women brought order to life. They’ve been ordering us around ever since. My background is computer systems. There is no question in my mind that women are better at this - more logical and more organised, than most men. My spouse is more organised than I am - but then that is hardly a compliment. It is probably true that most households would be a shambles if men were in charge (even though we could find things faster). This was planned. Look at nature. Interesting isn't it? Most think that God is a man but assigned Mother Nature the task of looking after the physical world.
Behavioural differences between the sexes exist in most living creatures. Humans have developed some stereotyped roles for both sexes which can and should change but others are basic to nature. Surely there is no psychological conditioning in other species? The female lion was not "conditioned” by male chauvinist lions. The roving buck does not do battle with other bucks because he saw it on TV. Stallions don't jump fences to mount mares just to tell the boys about it over a few buckets of oats. These behaviours are in the genes.
I support 100 percent equality of opportunity; equal pay for equal work; eradication of sexual harassment (not simple flirtation) and of physical assault on women (and I guess men as well in some cases.) However I don’t see any need to expend any energy trying to make one sex more like the other. It would seem that having two different sexes with different characteristics has worked pretty well for millions of years for all living creatures.
Finally please don’t interpret this as my being anti-gay or anti-lesbian, or anti anything else to do with choice. All choices and feelings are increasingly accepted today as are complete sexual transitions. I just happen to be a heterosexual male and my experience in these matters has always involved females only.
My partner just read this before bed. Suddenly she has a headache. Hopefully she is just ribbing me.
Some things never change.
The Brewster

Big Brother Social Media

Someone Planted a Bug and It’s My Phone
You know the story. You get a new phone and go through the process of setting it up, downloading some apps, and possibly saying YES to many requests to allow this or that app to provide you with “an enhanced user experience.”

I started by saying "NO" to anything that wanted to track my location but later I did agree to this for a few apps. Don’t we all? Then this happened:

The coffee crew I usually meet at McD’s each morning had talked about trying a favourite all day breakfast spot. A couple of us “Googled” the location. About 2 weeks later we met there for about 1 ½ hours and enjoyed a humongous feast.

That afternoon I received a “notification” on my phone. It asked how I enjoyed my visit to the Greasy Greasy restaurant this morning (name changed). Huh? What? How did “THEY” know? I will use the nebulous THEY going forward.

The answer was pretty obvious. My phone, turned on, was stationary at the exact location of the dining room in the Greasy Greasy diner. I did use it there once. I had also looked up the location 2 weeks before. THEY knew this as well. It was probably the call or the time spent dining that gave me away. I didn’t complete the survey - intended to but something terminated abnormally.

Do you ever really think about this? Do you even know what permissions you have agreed to on your phone and all of its software? Do you know what can be tracked even if you don’t give any such permissions?

Here are a few things that THEY know about me now:

  1. EXACTLY where I live. Never mind me never entering an address. My phone “lives” in the same spot every night and most of the day. THEY know the exact street address.
  2. Probably everything there is to know about my phone - brand; identification; operating system; what apps I chose; how much or little I use it; obviously exactly WHERE I use it.
  3. What websites I visit and what numbers I call.
  4. What news stories I read.
  5. Who I text and what I say and what is said to me.
  6. If I use my phone for finance, where I use it and what I buy. I don’t buy with my phone but many people do.
  7. What financial institutions I use and what cards.
  8. Assuming I shut off and charge my phone, what time I go to bed and what time I become active again.
  9. LOTs of other things I am not considering.

Now each item might not represent much but all together THEY know a lot about me.

Some of this is good. I can say “Hey Mona - where is the nearest gas station” or even name a brand of gas. If I am injured and alone authorities can find me via GPS. I can make a reservation. I can use my phone instead of cash. I can text. I can, let us not forget, actually phone someone. I can take and store thousands of pictures - not sure why I would but I could. Then I can send them to 500 people I don't really know. Make their day!

Someday a doctor will diagnose me via my phone. There are lots of potentially helpful things here.

Now think about these items:

  1. If you spend time in places like strip bars, the racetrack, casinos, do you turn off those permissions first? Probably not. Do you turn off your phone? Same answer.
  2. Would it make any difference? I am assuming that when a phone is turned off it can’t be traced but is that true?
  3. Just like the breakfast, if you spend time in the same location - like a lover’s - too long including overnight do you want anyone to know that?
  4. Does the coffee house you visit almost every morning track you? Will it pay THEM to send messages to you if you are absent saying “We missed you today!”. Will you be pleased or angry?
  5. Do you lock your screen after a short period so that all of this is not available to anyone who finds your lost phone?
  6. Are you set up to have your provider locate your phone and inactivate it until you retrieve it?

All of this was predicted to begin happening by 2004 but now Big Brother can indeed watch me and listen to me - 724 if I allow it.

Someday soon they will probably smell me. In the meantime, I smell a rat.

The Brewster

Wednesday 14 March 2018

In Praise of Stephen Hawking

Thank You Stephen Hawking

Every now and again - perhaps every few decades - a person like Stephen Hawking is born. He is a member of that elite group I can only refer to as profound thinkers.

You could probably cite others numbering in the dozens throughout recorded history - Einstein; Socrates; Plato; Darwin; Copernicus to name a few. Others exist in the creative arts - Michael Angelo; Beethoven; Renoir; Leonardo da Vinci.

Above all what I respect most about such people and their brains is that I doubt now or in the future will any form of machine or artificial intelligence match the creative genius of any one of them in their respective fields.

It took a chess master to create a computer chess master. Chess however is really just extreme combinations of known choices. Can you imagine a machine creating The Mona Lisa? It takes a human brain to both create and appreciate such a thing. The same applies to the mind of Stephen.

Surely it is all about human imagination. I just can't see any A.I. software possessing it the same way that we do.

Thank you Stephen et al for levelling the playing field. Wherever you are and whoever is your audience human or not, keep them spellbound just for the home team.

The Brewster

Monday 12 March 2018

Blogging: Some basic facts

Blogging Reality Check

When I created a blog in 2012, It was easy - still is. You can do a little reading on the mechanics and free offerings, then choose one and BINGO - an hour or less later you can read your first online creation. It’s almost as easy as making your first Tweet; posting a video or placing a picture on Facebook. Most beginners use free Blogger / Blogspot (me) or WordPress. There are others.

So then where are the 100,000 plus followers I read about completely clogging the search engines to find my blog and share my genius to take me viral? Where is the money?

Unfortunately back then, before then, and even now, there are just too many people claiming to make thousands of $$$ (insert your own currency symbol) per month blogging. It is possible but if you try now as I am, you are probably a dozen years or so too late.

Think about this: There are literally millions of people who think or thought that they could become rich with their:

New cook book
New song
New invention
New best selling novel
New “How to get rich in Real Estate” course
New video
New comic strip

Despite every true friend and experienced person telling them it takes years of hard work, endless determination, and countless failures, they know that theirs will be different.

I know because I have often had similar thoughts. I also know there is no easy ride to success.

Here is the real rub having experienced it over and over again. From what I have seen, many of those who are making money are the ones who attract your interest by telling you how to create a blog or make a fortune at blogging. That's it. This is not new. Before PCs ever existed, magazines and newspapers had tons of people who were willing to tell you their “secret” on how to get rich. Just send $19.95 and a SASE (for you young readers - if there are any - that is Self Addressed Stamped Envelope). They told you to do what they were doing - with your own SASE.

I am very serious about this. People get rich and their only contribution is telling you - often with material copied from someone else - how to make money at blogging. Nothing more. Many of them are VERY clever at filling their missives with links that force you to click and go somewhere else thus making them more money.

Imagine how successful a new newspaper (to pick an industry devastated by instant publishing technology) if the only content in the paper were columns on how to create and publish a newspaper - not one valid newsworthy article in it!

It seems to me that there are several kinds of blogs:

1. Those created by an individual who wants to share their personal experiences. Will you pay money to read about Suszie Q’s pet Border Collie or to look at John Smith’s photographs?

2. Those that focus on one particular topic like a hobby. It could be knitting; cooking; travel; one or more charities etc. These are of interest to a relatively small group of people and making money is probably not the objective. Sharing knowledge experiences, and making new acquaintances are the objectives.

3. Those tied to a much more prominent web page of a well known company or name almost because most of the competition has one also and because a blog is a convenient way to broadcast news and general information. It is easy to update. Any earnings are likely going to be from the website, not the blog.

4. Those created by celebrities or politicians or their assistants because any publicity for them is important.

5. Those intended to express opinions about a particular cause or trend or to feature articles just like a newspaper. If they are good, these can probably make money.

6. Those intended simply to entertain featuring short stories, funny videos, comic strips, recordings etc. These could probably make money if enough people go to them and click on their ads. They give people something to pass to their friends.

7. Those intended to teach you something other than how to write a blog. Typical examples are music lessons; sports lessons; do it yourself and how to items. These can make money either by selling further material like cd's or books, newsletters or by sponsored ads of related products and services.

This blog is probably a combination of numbers 5 and 6 above. If it makes money someday great. Otherwise I just enjoy it.

So the bottom line here comes down to one thing and to be fair, some of those “How to …Blogging” sites about blogs do indeed make this point. Like all of those other things mentioned above, a blog has to have quality, fresh, original CONTENT. The best inventions, books and music all fill a need. So must a great blog.

One honourable mention which is also covered in the Blogging articles are the techniques and in some cases tricks that can be employed to up the numbers of people who know you exist. Getting them to come back is up to you. The same old stuff will not accomplish that nor will simply high numbers of articles. You have to create something unique or be better than your competitors at whatever they do. Who passes judgement on uniqueness or whether something is better? Only the reader.

And that fellow bloggers, is what you have to accomplish to become renowned at anything in life. The most successful bloggers have been at it for many years. I have a long way to go.

The Brewster

Saturday 10 March 2018

Steve Jobs and Apple

Steve Jobs: The Apple Coffin.

Most people would say that Steve Jobs was a creative genius. I would have to agree. He foresaw things that no-one else did and created innovative products to fill the needs none of the rest of us knew we had. Sadly he is no longer with us. What would be the latest Apple products in high demand if he were?

Having read the book about Steve Jobs of the same name, I have to admit that I am not a big fan. Pompous and spoiled come to mind.

The only Apple product I own is a mini Ipod Nano. I rarely use it for several reasons.
  1. It is too small
  2. It is in my opinion definitely not “intuitively obvious” to use.
  3. Steve had a thing about buttons. If you still have any influence Steve, give me back buttons and I will buy more of your products.
  4. Steve had a thing about user manuals. If you still have any influence Steve, give me back user manuals and I will buy more of your products.

I was left shaking my head when I finally found out - from a manual - that one of the features in the product was accessed by - shaking the product. Occasionally I still shake my head over that. An infant who has not yet learned to walk might have discovered this - they shake everything but an adult? Be honest and say no.

Its interface is really the prime reason I don’t use it. Here is a little anecdote which I hope depicts my feeling of frustration:

I have just attended the gravesite of a relative. I then wander around the cemetery and come upon a fresh grave. In fact the casket has not yet been lowered but there are no mourners - everyone has departed - poor choice of words.

Imagine my surprise when I realize that I can hear a soft muffled sound coming from within that very same coffin! I look around but I have wandered, it has started to rain, and there is no-one around. I approach the coffin and see a small logo - the Apple Logo. This is an Apple coffin!

I am in panic mode and trying to think very hard. Look for a latch! Then it hits me. This is a Steve Jobs creation - there is no latch. OK think. I know - TAP it. I tap the top - nothing. I tap the bottom - nothing. The muffled sound continues. I tap one side - then the other. I have tapped all four sides - nothing! The truth is, there really are no sides. Steve also had a thing about corners - no corners, hence really no sides. So I direct my contacts where I think a normal person would have placed sides.

I know! This is one of those TAP TWICE features. I repeat my actions once again tapping everywhere two times. Nothing. I try three times as the magic number - nothing! So now I run around the thing slapping it like I’m trying to knock it out once, twice, thrice - nothing! I repeat all of this KICKING the frickin thing - nothing.

Now what - I know! I try to "flick" it. Now I have never flicked a coffin but there I was - broke every nail I had in the process. Nothing! Correction - still muffled sounds. I walk around stroking the thing. Nothing. Now what Steve? Speak to me Steve! Just couldn’t have a nice little “Press here to open” anywhere could you bud?

Then I remember - SHAKE IT! You have to be kidding Steve. Oh well, worth a try. So I straddle the gravesite and almost break my back placing a bear hug around this coffin and hoist it up. I’m swinging the thing back and forth like a Rock ‘n Roll dance hoping now is not the time for someone to pass by. Nothing.

In total disregard for the situation I hoist the thing up as high as I can and slam it onto the ground! Nothing! Correction. The muffled sounds have now stopped. I struggle to replace it on its bed. I give you credit for a strong coffin Steve if nothing else. The poor individual inside might not agree however.

Should I report this? Is anyone going to believe me? Just one lousy button Steve - that’s all it would have taken. If this were a Microsoft / Bill Gates coffin, it would at least have had a START button. God knows why but it probably would have opened it. And if you were really that smart why isn’t there an inside release like the trunk of every car made today - just in case. Even children can open those!

I had to walk away. Blame this on another esthetically beautiful Steve Jobs creation - don't blame me. I wondered how many people Steve screamed at during its design? Sorry bud. No more Apple products for me.

The Brewster