Monday, 27 September 2010

Is Cowell bigger than the Messiah?

We're being made a fool of. In Rip-Off Britain that's ok. It's allowed. It's not a problem.

The 'Nation can have spoken' when a survey of only less than 400 people vote, and 73% of them approve, when advertising cosmetics on TV in this country. 73% of 400 = 292 people; out of an estimated UK population of 63 Million, that's 0.000463% of the country being attributed as speaking for each and every one of us.

A time limited British Telecom half price monthly service deal can be advertised as the going rate (but do read the small print to find out you'll pay twice as much after 3 months).

And, as previously mentioned, don't be surprised to learn that while making Syco & ITV rich, your X-Factor phone votes will have little bearing on the outcome - follow these links to discover the true extent of viewer manipulation and unreality down to Mr Cowell - just in the case alone of Katie Waissel/Lola Fontaine/Katie Vogel/Katie V and her little chum Storm Lee. If the production team are buying auditionees out of existing recording contracts (and changing their own admission rules), they've clearly invested in a successful outcome for the artist. Doesn't OFCOM regulate ANYTHING anymore???

If Simon really thinks he's bigger than jesus, perhaps he'd be wise to remember the fate his predecessor suffered! Surely we're not going to take much more of this, are we??
I just think back to her 'fake' family expressing their high hopes for their little receptionist daughter... Does NOBODY understand what shame is?? I'm for bringing back the stocks and settling this out in the community like the good old dark ages!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Why The Hell Isn't It All Over For Cowell's Pantomime?

Just how much longer is the British public going to lap up manipulation from ITV's 'saviour'? Forever, probably...

Only those pitiful & deluded contestants who are publically mocked on the show could be foolish enough to believe that the successful X-Factor contestants aren't hand-picked from semi-professional 'obscurity' to appear on the show by the show's insiders.

Time after time we're exposed to news that a so-called 'wannabe' has turned out to be an 'alreadyis' - groomed for success and carefully prepared for the climb of the ladder from obscurity via the industry standard X-Factor route - and they're just the ones that get caught out. Leona Lewis from the Brit School, Alexandra Burke and her inside family contacts (though who tought her to be such a diva, I wonder?), JLS already well enough known to secure an Urban Music Award two years before 'appearing from nowhere'...

Or what about the deceptive miming utilised by the show's star performers? Take Cheryl Cole for example.

Plus don't forget all the blatantly staged introductions, such as 'Danyl Johnson' - either staged or I'm a Baboon's Uncle... but maybe I'm being unfair on the production team - they've no reason to try to manipulate the audience experience so early on into the series.

and now this series (one show old, don't forget), brings 'staged' airtime anew to Katie Waissel (or should that be recording artist Lola Fontaine, or reality TV star Katie Vogel, aka Katie V?). As you rewatch her 'debut' and enjoy her family all lying through their teeth, wonder how good the production team's vetting standards must be.

Add into the melting pot today's admission that the first show of the 7th series featured a performance by Gamu Nhengu enhanced by Autotune to correct pitching issues - let's be honest, only the most blatant use to date, hardly the first.

So now we have ITV assuring the fee paying public that by the time they start paying through the nose to 'vote' their way into Simon Cowell's deep pockets that they'll have stopped enhancing performances (until then, ITV seem to be saying 'don't believe a thing you see or hear'). Never mind that by that time the public won't be participating in a fair contest, the field of runners and riders having been distorted at the whim of show producers. And is it ok to accept their assurance of forthcoming propriety? let's face it, if you are found guilty of deception in the first instance, how much further trust deserves to be invested in you?

Nobody really ever thought otherwise, but this really is appalling manipulation of the public. I don't mind that it's staged. I don't mind that it doesn't really offer unknown, untried and unconditioned hopefuls, I don't even mind that its as carefully scripted as any top-line drama... It's the deception I object to, deception that, in many other fields, would be judged unlawful. I've no doubt that the show transgresses not one rule or regulation, but there's that thing called 'the spirit of', and in the X Factor it's sadly lacking.

So WHY do WE, the public, put up with it? No doubt this 7th Series will deliver record audiences, will fill even more column inches, achieve the endorsement of even bigger 'desperate for exposure' music-factory products and fading stars of yesteryear, and who'd bet against the awfully manufactured winner's single reaching number one - perhaps denied the Xmas top spot due to this year's inevitable protest vote (but don't forget Joe McElderry's release grossed Mr Cowell more income than any predecessor's - it's as much a part of the pantomime now as the fakes, the miming, the scripting, the mock angst).

Don't blame Simon or the other 'judges', the production company, ITV or anyone else. They're all helpless without us - and we can't help but go along for the ride, making them even more important, richer and more powerful than they were before.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Astraware Updates Sudoku to 1.40

Astraware's Sudoku - an already great application and way to pass idle moments - gets an update and a most welcome new method of managing puzzles.

Alternatively, download it here.

Release documentation states:

What's new in this version:

  • A new type of assistance - Hold and Highlight which allows you to highlight a specific number or pencilmark. On touchscreen devices tap and hold the number or pencilmark in the side or bottom bars. On devices with QWERTY keyboards press P then the number for pencilmark or O then the number for numbers.
  • A Puzzle Manager. Following requests from existing users, our extensive new Puzzle Manager allows players to select a specific puzzle to play, or delete puzzles they've already completed.
  • Full screen support for Windows Mobile® Standard (Smartphone) devices with QVGA Landscape displays.
  • Full screen support for Palm OS® devices with hi-res+ displays (320x480 and 480x320).
  • Additional language support - Astraware Sudoku now includes Brazilian Portuguese alongside English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Free 'For One Week Only' Snap Software Download From SplashData & Demise of SplashBlog

Hurry to take advantage of a freebie from SplashData.

We haven't even evaluated this yet, as we wanted to give you the best chance to take advantage of a 'this week only' offer to have the
Snap 'quick entry tool for palm'. It appears to provide an 'always available' toolbar for data entry, designed to interface with their own SplashNotes application, but which will also function with the built in ToDoList and Memo applications. Download it while you still can here.

We've not played with SplashNotes yet, mainly because with a Treo 650, there's precious little memory for new applications, let alone to fill with replacements for built in applications!

In other SplashData news, we must report the demise of the company's foray into blogging support applications, with the death of SplashBlog. In a statement on the SplashBlog website here, the organisers state:

Dear Splashblog user,

We regret to inform you that the Splashblog service will be terminated on Friday, August 10th, 2007. The Splashblog website, any uploaded pictures or content, and customer support will no longer be accessible after this time.

However, we value all of our users and don't want you to lose any of the content you have created since you began using the Splashblog service. Therefore, we have designed an easy way for you to save all of your published content.

To preserve your Splashblog content, please follow the simple steps below:

1. Go to and sign in.
2. In the Blog Admin page, click on the "Manage Blog" link, then on the "Export Photos" link.
3. At the bottom of the page, press the "Create Zip File Now" button.
4. Click the generated link to download your pictures.

Once you complete this process, all of your pictures will be safely saved on your computer. Look for an email for more instructions on where you might move your photos to.


The Six Apart Mobile Team.


Now Confused+Emotional is a huge SplashData fan of long standing, so it's always a shame when things go wrong, but we can't help think this is indicative of a new overly-commercial approach by SplashData. When we first encountered the company, back in the day, they appeared to be a developer-led company of great talent, producing software that filled a need and met with great success. We're proud to own SplashID, SplashPhoto & to a degree, SplashTravel. Regular updates provided welcome improvements and increased functionality, and they were always a company to watch.

Over the last 18 months or so, a new commercial focus has come into play, with often negative impact:
  • The software doesn't keep pace with the rate of innovation from competitors (SplashPhoto for example is looking very limited when compared to Resco Photo Viewer, which despite the name, provides image editing facilities sadly lacked in SplashData's offering). SplashPhoto last received a feature upgrade in August 2003 (yes, 4 years ago) - subsequent releases have been bug fix & maintenance updates. And just look at SplashClock and compare it to the other products on the market. Compare the recent innovation from SpashData to a company like GX5.

  • Irregular updates are revenue-generators with little real value to the loyal customer who continues to fund the company (there's not that much in the new SplashID that we can't live without).

  • Pricing has begun to over value what we've already noted are applications looking a little dated. (the 4 year old SplashPhoto will cost you $30, which isn't small change in the world of Palm Apps; the more capable Resco Photo Viewer will cost you $24.95).

  • Their new trend of outsourcing development (or buying in the work of other developers) is confusing the brand identity (witness the shoddy & ridiculously memory-hungry SplashNews developed by Smaato, a company that demonstrates that taking a good idea and making it free doesn't always benefit the end user).

  • The revenue greed is most apparent in the 'professional' versioned packages now coming on line, milking the user for all they're worth. SplashTravel is a case in point.

  • The commercialism is never more apparent in the SplashData blog, which completely fails to see the value in communicating with customers in the way that blogs allow (but seems instead to suggest that having the SplashData website is not doing the job well enough). For example, announcing that the new version of SplashData, released 22nd June, was actually being 'early' released to coincide with Independence Day is just tacky; failing to post a reader comment pointing this out demonstrates just how contrived the 'blog' is - if you don't want criticism, don't mislead the public - they pay your wages.

  • Now SplashBlog goes under. A further example of revenue greed, we're sure the SplashData company of old would have developed this useful application to support the leading blogging environments of the day; instead, because it was easier and bought into the revenue generator which is subscription services, SplashData failed to read the marketplace, and has now failed. Lesson learned, we wonder?
All in all, SplashData demonstrate the harm done to the Palm platform by Palm itself. Once one of the great Palm innovators, the uncertain future has turned this company into a revenue generator first, innovator last - in our opinion.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Time to Die... Again & In Newly Found Glory

Sometimes it's not about sharing what's new, but sharing what's best. In the case of Blade Runner, it's both 25 years old and in many respects very new; and it's unquestionably among the best.

In what must be one of the most anticipated releases of the DVD age, Blade Runner: Final Cut is being prepared for release, less than a week before Christmas Day, 2007.

This major campaign will introduce several versions:
  • Blade Runner - 2 Disc Special Edition:

    Disc One:
    Ridley Scott's all new "Final Cut'.

    Restored and remastered with added & extended scenes, added lines, new and cleaner special effects and all new 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio. Also includes:
    - Commentary by Ridley Scott
    - Commentary by Executive Producer/ Co-Screenwriter Hampton Fancher and Co-Screenwriter David Peoples; Producer Michael Deely and production executive Katherine Haber

    - Commentaries by visual futurist Syd Mead; production designer Lawrence G. Paull, art director David L. Snyder and special photographic effects supervisors Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich and David Dryer

    Disc Two
    Documentary - "Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner"

    A feature-length authoritative documentary revealing all the elements that shaped this hugely influential cinema landmark. Cast, crew, critics and colleagues give a behind-the-scenes, in-depth look at the film - from its literary roots and inception through casting, production, visuals and special effects to its controversial legacy and place in Hollywood history.

  • Blade Runner - 4 Disc Collector's Edition

    Containing the 2 discs of the Special Edition, the Collector's edition also boasts 2 further discs, containing 3 alternative versions of the film,
    as well as an "Enhancement Archive" bonus disc of enhanced content that includes 90 minutes of deleted footage and rare or never-before-seen items in featurettes and galleries that cover the film's history, production teams, special effects, impact on society, promotional trailers, TV spots, and much more.

    Disc Three

    This is the version that introduced U.S. movie-going audiences to a revolutionary film with a new and excitingly provocative vision of the near-future. It contains Deckard/Harrison Ford's character narration and has Deckard and Rachel's (Sean Young) "happy ending" escape scene.


    Also used on U.S. home video, laserdisc and cable releases up to 1992. This version is not rated, and contains some extended action scenes in contrast to the Theatrical Version.


    The Director's Cut omits Deckard's voice over narration and removes the "happy ending" finale. It adds the famously-controversial "unicorn" sequence, a vision that Deckard has which suggests that he, too, may be a replicant.

    Disc Four
    BONUS DISC - "Enhancement Archive"

    - Featurette The Electric Dreamer: Remembering Philip K. Dick
    - Featurette Sacrificial Sheep: The Novel vs. The Film
    - Philip K. Dick: The Blade Runner Interviews (Audio)
    - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Cover Gallery (Images)
    - The Art of Blade Runner (Image Galleries)
    - Featurette Signs of the Times: Graphic Design
    - Featurette Fashion Forward: Wardrobe & Styling
    - Screen Tests: Rachel & Pris
    - Featurette The Light That Burns: Remembering Jordan Cronenweth
    - Unit Photography Gallery
    - Deleted & Alternate Scenes
    - 1982 Promotional Featurettes
    - Trailers & TV Spots
    - Featurette Promoting Dystopia: Rendering the Poster Art
    - Marketing & Merchandise Gallery (Images)
    - Featurette Deck-A-Rep: The True Nature of Rick Deckard
    - Featurette Nexus Generation: Fans & Filmmakers

  • Blade Runner - 5 disc Ultimate Collectors Edition

    Containing the 4 discs of the Collector's Edition, The Ulitmate edition also includes a 5th disc, containing
    the ultra-rare, near-legendary WORKPRINT version of the film, newly remastered. It will be presented in a unique 5-disc digi-package with handle which is a stylish version of Deckard's own briefcase, in addition each briefcase will be individually numbered and in limited supply. Included is a lenticular motion film clip from the original feature, miniature origami unicorn figurine, miniature replica spinner car, collector's photographs as well as a signed personal letter from Sir Ridley Scott.

    Disc Five

    This rare version of the film is considered by some to be the most radically different of all the Blade Runner cuts. It includes an altered opening scene, no Deckard narration until the final scenes, no "unicorn" sequence, no Deckard/Rachel "happy ending," altered lines between Batty (Rutger Hauer) and his creator Tyrell (Joe Turkell), alternate music and much more.

    Also includes:

    - Commentary by Paul M. Sammon, author of Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner
    - Featurette All Our Variant Futures: From Workprint to Final Cut

    This version will be available in standard DVD format, as well as HD-DVD and BluRay High Definition variants.
It's hard to imagine a more comprehensively thought-out and packaged re-release of a 25 year old movie - such is the significance of the original release, and I for one will be first in line.

The only significant thing that appears to be missing is the excellent Mark Kermode-presented Channel 4 documentary, 'On The Edge Of Blade Runner' (2000), which was originally rumoured for inclusion on disc 5. It was on YouTube until Warners objected; hopefully it might appear in this Warner package, and has simply been left off the content detail.

Source for package contents: The Digital Bits

Monday, 16 July 2007

The Afterguard goes live with in-depth coverage of America's Cup & TeamOrigin

Confused+Emotional is pleased to announce the launch of a sister-blog, The Afterguard, to cater to our increasing preoccupation with all things America's Cup and Great Britain's TeamOrigin.

The Afterguard will bring you all the latest in America's Cup racing, with a special emphasis on the developments at TeamOrigin, Great Britain's bid to win the 33rd and 34th competitions.

Confused+Emotional (this site) will continue to bring you news of:
  • Apple Inc.
  • Palm Smartphones
  • TomTom
  • F1
  • as well as our general musings.

Please feel free to bookmark both sites, and keep us on our toes by adding comments whenever you can.

Both Afterguard and Confused+Emotional will carry sailing posts for the time being, until everyone gets used to the changes , after which we'll withdraw sailing coverage to Afterguard alone - thank you for your understanding.

Buyer Beware - Orange Make Lemons

Those nice people at Orange have made a complete and utter lemon of me - and if you're not careful, it could happen to you!

Sometimes I think I'm on an entirely different planet to everyone else - hence Confused+Emotional. Take my mobile phone package, for example.

A long long time ago, in a distant galaxy, I chose Orange here in the UK because they offered the Palm Treo 600 - and taking a phone contract with Orange was a good way to spend less getting the Treo.

The package I had no choice over gave me 120 minutes of free calls to anything (UK) a month, 250 SMS, oh, and 120 minutes of WAP access - remember this is all on the phone they bundled under the contract.

I remember sitting there wondering what WAP actually represented to me, on a Treo 600 with its 'Blazer' web browser. If I called Orange, they'd happily explain that every phone on Orange accessed WAP. If I stated that I had a Treo 600, they'd simply reply, 'oh sir, I don't know that one - but all our phones have WAP'. So I browsed. And got a bill. Foolishly, I had 'forgotten' to use my WAP, and incurred data charges instead. I phoned my friends at Orange. After what must have been half an hour being told what I already knew (an Orange 'policy' or so it seems), I asked them to explain why they'd given me WAP in my package, and a phone without WAP, and asked if I could have that component of my monthly charge refunded - seeing as I could explain to them they'd failed to give me the equipment necessary to access the service they had provided. 'Oh it's free sir, you're not paying anything for it' - hmmm, I'll live with it, just as long as they NEVER assume I don't understand their game. I'm waiting to read on my next statement that I have completely free call access on planet mars - 'never pay a penny' or similar.

Anyway, in order to have a WAP-like experience of Internet access on my phone, I pay for something Orange bill me for - Standard Orange World Access 3 - 3 MB of Internet access for £3.40. The problem is, go over the 3MB, and it starts costing near on £2 per MB, uncapped. Oh, and of course, Palm don't build any kind of useage logging functionality into the Treos. I experimented with every 3rd party application under the sun, none of them seemed stable or reliable enough to give me a true indication of what I was doing. The result? I hardly used 0.1 of my 3 MB, 'just in case'.

Then I get my TomTom Navigator 5 GPS package, and just have to deploy the frankly disappointing Traffic live update system. I have no idea how much data is involved. I look again at my Orange World Access package. I see that for £8 I can have 10MB of access (Orange's bills suggest this should give me access to 200 web pages per month). Of course, I'm still cautious - I probably use no more than 0.8 of my 8MB package, 'just in case'.

Wind forward until a month or so ago. I'm still with Orange, now with a Treo 650 they sold me - still lacking in WAP functionality that means I'm squandering 120 minutes of 'free' access each month. Orange make an announcement. Murray over at Palm-Mac carries the story here.
Flat rate browsing packages, including an 'unlimited' plan for £8 - which is the same as I'm paying for a 10MB package! Firstly, Orange define 'unlimited' - you'll love this - as limited to 30 MB! But hey, that's 3 times the data for not a penny more than I was already paying. I await the day of introduction in June, call Orange, and speak to some complete 'twit' (or so I thought at the time), who explains that while the other limited packages do allow unrestricted browsing, the 'unlimited' package - you'll love this - is restricted to accessing only orange world portal website pages; click an external link, and you're paying extortionate data charges; yes there's news, but no freedom of the press - it's what Orange says, or nothing.
I thank the person I've identified as a twit, and ring off. Remember, this is day one of the new tariff - all I have to go on is press reports and an Orange press release. I look closely and there's some nonsense about unlimited Orange World access, and useage of the 30MB limit once browsing 'off world'.

I phone those nice people at Orange again and speak to a nice Orange person. I am, of course, right, the first person was wrong. I will get 30MB to do with as I please for the same price as my existing 3MB 'Standard Orange World Access 3' package,, as well as unlimited access to Orange World pages. I'd be mad not to do so, so I prove I'm not mad.

A month passes. A new bill arrives. My package now includes something called 'OW 30MB Monthly Data Bundle' (no mention there of 'unlimited'). Err, it says here I have £4.35 + VAT data charges, on top of £8 +VAT for the data package, which I haven't used. Why? Because I was 'off world' and didn't live in Orange land - I went for the more expensive option of clicking on someone else's webpage! Just as the 'idiot' had first suggested.

Be warned. Orange rule the world. It's their world. Thou shalst not worship false worlds, lest thou pays a high price. There is only Orange World. And it's full of lemons