Please Sign This!!

Hi everyone,

I learned a long time ago never to get into politics, people feel just a little too passionate at times. But in the UK a petition has come up which, while it isn’t important to a great many, and certainly not if you’re not from or in the UK.
But they are changing the Visa rules in the UK which will affect thousands of people, families and loved ones here and around the world. The rule change is that if you’re not earning a minimum of £35,000 you cannot stay unless you’re from the EU.
Now, this is where I do have a problem… I believe that the UK has greater allegiances before Europe, these are to English speaking nations, then nations of the Commonwealth and finally the EU.
I mean no offence by this and I have no issues with race, colour, religion or sexuality, I respect all. I also believe that in the 21st century we should be one global people, but hey….
But this targets people who are here legitimately, who work, pay taxes and contribute in the welfare and well-being of the country.
My partner, spouse, better half Gabby aka Gabsatrucker is a US Citizen and the impact of this is huge – in a country that demanded proof of £68k in the bank to get a visa in the first place…  I think our system is wrong, and this is the final nail to this coffin.
So, if you are reading this, please take a moment to sign this online, I would truly appreciate this.  Click on the image.

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Published in: on 17 January, 2016 at 03:35  Leave a Comment  
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Devastating few months in British Music History

 

It obviously can’t have escaped many people’s notice of the close proximity of several deaths from the archives of British Rock history.
I don’t know where to go with this other than to add my little bit:
Music for me started in 1976, it was the early days of punk and when I got to boarding school, we had an amazing teacher called Adrian Schoeberl who, once a week would introduce us to a couple of different bands until we gained a vast spectrum of knowledge in the area and even took in a Buzzcocks gig once.
It was while at home on school break I watched a show called “The Old Grey Whistle Test” (star kicker) on the BBC when, before my eyes a live concert with a school boy running around grabbed my attention Old-Grey-Whistle-Test– and there born was my love of AC/DC.
I left the school and attended another in Sheffield and this was the first time I ever saw people wearing merchandise. A kid and later a friend came up to me and asked what bands I was into and he was wearing a Led Zeppelin and a Genesis badge, I said both names and he accused me outright of just reading his badges – well yes and no, I had every album by Zeppelin and nothing by Genesis.
As we flew into the 80’s we were so lucky, Sheffield City Hall was a major venue on the UK touring circuit back then and every major act played there. We also had the Top Rank Suite, The Wapentake (a rock pub), local bands like Def Leppard, Saxon and got to see everyone. Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Oz was a show that got me interested in Audio Engineering which I was fascinated with. Girlschool made me slightly more deaf in the right ear than the left – for life!! We saw everyone. And then I worked in a Merch shop right opposite the City Hall (gone now) called Impulse Records… the only place I ever knew of back then that sold the leather, studs and bullet belts – so much so that when touring bands finished sound check at the City Hall they’d come in to buy gear on their way to the Wapentake bar just down the street. It was a great time in my life.

Then it all changed, City Halls were taken over by Arenas, the record shop became a parking lot, the Wapentake changed hands and then changed names.Wap reopening ded.The only other bar with the a Rock reputation as close or even better than the Wapentake was a long way away, in another country in fact and I knew it would be highly unlikely to ever visit…

 

And then, 3 years ago I did, with Gabby aka Gabsatrucker. In fact I mentioned it briefly in the post LA to Sin City : Las Vegas
A life time later from 1982, and we had been shooting  about picking up a few things in West Hollywood and were starving hungry… a few blocks away Rainbow Logowas this little place : The Rainbow Bar & Grill… not the kind of name or  look from the outside you would associate with a bar like the Wapentake, but I’m told the name was from the Band “Rainbow”.
So we went, we parked and we entered… got a booth and ate a hearty burger… as it got later the faces of 80’s, 90’s and early 2k’s rock scene were everywhere, I was surprised I guess, but not star struck, it was like a reassurance that such great places still exist, where people can be themselves and no pretension entered into.
Age has had a strange effect on me, whether I’m becoming an old romantic or just that little softer – but as we left and a famous individual said “sup – brother” as an informal greeting  – I knew then I would probably return.

I miss music…
And as the deaths of Phil Taylor, Lemmy, the final demise of Motorhead and David Bowie sink home having left a true mark in history, I feel that in these rare places – they will always be as alive today and in the future as they ever were.

 

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I tweaked the album artwork for the purpose of this blog

My 2014 in a few pictures

A little travel (London, Paris, The West Country) and stuff about the house and dubious oddness
Click on any Image to open in Gallery view

Published in: on 2 January, 2015 at 16:48  Comments Off on My 2014 in a few pictures  
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New York, N’ooo Yoyk!

Bouncing out of Nashville we set about attempting a 2am ETA in NYC and made it!

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Strangely, after all that people had said about driving in the Apple and it being a city that never sleeps, there was hardly a thing on the road and it was a straight forward navigation to our downtown 6th Ave hotel, where they promptly stole the Snot Rocket (our car) for safe keeping.6th Ave

However, the New Jersey (N’ooo Joyzeee) Turnpike is NOT for the faint hearted or for anyone with a shred of logical commonsense due to the clarity of the signage, or indeed no signage. Thankfully, other than a few other lost souls, all was good.

The following day was a mad rush and full on with Gabsatrucker heading out early to chase her own butt up 20 blocks and pound out the rest of her 7 mile run around Central Park.

I jumped in a cab and headed to Chelsea and the new global headquarters of Rocketboom.com!rocketboom gold

Set in tasteful surroundings and interrupted from beavering away I sat down and had a great chat with Andrew Baron about how the future for Rocketboom and how other enterprises were rapidly shaping up to be far larger and indeed a permanent existence in the day on day “must watch” web media  listings :-)

The evolution of Rocketboom has been long and its consistency in what I call intelligent humour – ie Witt, sarcasm and irony mixed in with a variable amount of new or leading tech, entertainment and global web cultural insight is well established and is still leading in this field.

Andrew’s exceptional ability to seek out great talent for presenting Rocketboom is second to none and the present anchor of the show Keghan Hurst is a perfect example of this.

Andrew Baron’s great strength is not just that he is one of the first true instigators of what we term web media, but it lays at the door of not just knowing what he wants to achieve, but also in listening to so many others without being derailed from his overall aim. In this he has achieved a greater understanding than most within this field and in the creativity stakes there are few to rival what he has achieved.

In the evening Gabsatrucker and I headed over to meet Andrew, his stunning and glowingly pregnant wife Rima and their friend Eli for what Andrew termed Korean BBQ which was a fantastic evening with a lot of laughter.

While we were invited to stay for another evening, our plans were forever changing and we were sadly unable to. As we walked back to our hotel leaving great people and company behind us we came upon Times Square which was very much alive and bouncing.

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Grabbing pictures and a bit of t’shirt swag we called it a night.

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Naked CowGirl

Day 2:

Waking early and packing up our gear, we headed out to catch a few sights before leaving this unrelenting island city.

A fast walk up the street our hotel was on (that sounds like they moved it) and you hit the likes of Radio City and the not so liked News Corp headquarters.

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Radio City

Onto the subway and Grand Central Station for crepes (of course)

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Then South to the 911 Memorial.. BUT, remember all the trouble I had getting into the Hoover Dam? Well this time, I’m wearing a Leatherman tool and all manner of sharp objects as we headed into security.

The X-ray operator sees the Leatherman and asks to look at it, calls another guard over and then “Sir, where did you get this?”

Me: “Ebay, why?”

Reply: “I’ve been looking for the same model” before handing it back to me…

Now that is commonsense security!! They acknowledge the item, make you aware they have and then carry on as normal – and where? Where this whole terror thing for this country started!! Well-done 911 Memorial Security with their reasoned, professional and very logical approach to what they do.

I can’t really add much more, this place and most definitely this memorial leaves you silent as it stands for so much more now than the day it all happened, and to a far higher loss than ever before.

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With that, we left the fair city of New York and headed back south, Philadelphia, DC, and on to Virginia – or ENGLAND as I like to call it.

Summer Heat and the Google UK Big Tent Event 2012

Firstly I must say I enjoyed this event… This is the 2nd year Google UK has run this event and it really is a place where great conversations can happen and awkward topics broached. It can also help people in the industry realise where everyday people are with tech in their lives – because that really is the information the industry seeks without assumption. The event itself was also accompanied by the Channel 4 news team and a posse of people from the Guardian newspaper that showed some interesting things later on, not to mention various journalists from a wide range of other publications.

First up Peter Barron from Google welcomed everyone as usual and kicked off the proceeding with – Porn: how do we keep our children safe online? Well this is an age old discussion, but one that is always sidelined through complete and total ignorance…  This is either because of the prudish nature of one or more of the participants, or simple discomfort.

Porn for all its sins is different in the eyes of each individual person, in cultures where people are generally covered up; the simple act of showing a bare arm can be enough to create a response, so while in western society we’re used to seeing semi naked bodies it often comes down to why should someone else’s beliefs impact you and how you should or should not dress and so on.  For this very reason there is no defined definition of what porn truly is. But the main question was raised by Daily Mail journalist Amanda Platell. Her point was that as a responsible parent wanting to make sure that her child doesn’t come across anything they should not online – what does she do? Especially as she’s not computer savvy and doesn’t know how to do things like block sites etc. She went on to say that government or the ISP’s should offer a service to make sure things are blocked. She then continued saying that the night before she’d gone to the site “pornhub.com” and described the sexual acts she watched being carried out… She did this in great detail. So before I finish this, on her recommendation we tried to find the said video… Nope, couldn’t find it anywhere!! Something similar, but not the one she described (so it was probably a good job I refrained from heckling “How many times did you have to watch it before you got off?”). Infact the subject covered was seriously “niche”, so we’ll leave you to your own thoughts to why she had to stand on a stage and describe all this in such detail. So, in response to what should a responsible parent who isn’t computer savvy do…. the answer is simple – LEARN!!

On to the totally awesome Dr. Aleks Krotoski  who showed off her Serendipity Engine which was interesting, insightful and frankly if the results of what could end up being a lifetime of research bear fruit – the very same system/algorithm etc will very probably prove the key to Chaos Theory.

The Minister of State for Science and Universities came on and proclaimed new things at universities yet missed the points completely. Even Eric Schmidt mentioned the UK has disregarded what made it good – leadership with flair and our skills. It almost seems to me that every country wants to have its own Silicon Valley – but they shouldn’t and can’t… We should do what we’re good at and in the global age it makes us stand out. The UK is the hands on engineering country… that’s it, pure and simple. However, we’re seriously lacking in training and education in schools, not just in Computer Science, but the far bigger and more vast areas that make up the rest that knowledgeable people talk about and the “App crowd” (there is a phrase I just invented and is now copyright TWBrit lol) don’t even know about – embarrassing stuff in front of engineers and people who build the infrastructure for the “App-Crowd” to use their toys on.

The next session was “Copyright in the Digital Age “This is one of the biggest subjects on and about the internet now. Some fascinating things were talked about here. Firstly the media industries as a whole need to re-address how they work out their losses and stop being so blinkered in their overall approach. Bottom line is that it created a rod for its own back, we’ve been recording music etc ever since it was possible to do so, whether music off the radio in the 70’s and of course hooking video machines together at home in the 80’s.

After lunch Eric Schmidt gave a fascinating talk about Globalisation and mentioned a few things like how in some schools in Africa they don’t have textbooks – they simply use Google and YouTube to teach from these. And then there was the obvious yet simple observation as to why educational and help software or information doesn’t come pre-installed on mobile phones; pointing out it’d cost very little or nothing to do so. He talked about the next billion users of Google and then got the whole thing kyboshed when some journalist kept pushing questions about stuff regarding Google and the EU Govt. which he answered that they’re waiting to hear exactly what the complaint is about so they can take a proper look at it. Yet the journo kept pushing… That’s not called great journalism – it’s called f’king everyones day up inside a tent with a room temp of around 130f (thanks moron!!) The result was that we didn’t get to hear good questions and become informed more. After all, we really wanted to hear what Eric had to so say – not listen questions on conjecture. But because of the nature of these questions Eric had to answer them clearly and properly.

Someone from the Guardian Newspaper then came on and did a bit about how they tracked the London Riots last year. They showed how little information the Police gave them, so they went to get court documents of who had been charged etc. Then they turned to Twitter and gained information of who tweeted what, the terminology used, the “#-tag” information and suddenly came up with some frankly amazing information, statistics and a mountain of other things. This simply and finally proved that our want and need for tech, apps and the latest thing – is the very thing that is creating a 100% guaranteed “Big Brother” future for all of us… remember : put any info out there – and it’s there forever!!

With the breaks becoming more and more needed due to the heat inside the main tented hall, it was refreshing to see and have a sit down with Dr Sue Black: not to be confused with the Curry Queen of Camden Town (I also just made that up). As soon as myself, Sue and this blogs editor Gabsatrucker sat down – the ladies went straight to geek mode in their phones and reminiscing of their road-trip between Little Rock and Austin, Texas a few weeks ago.  After briefly meeting Sue’s son, [hold it, I gotta add something] Sue Black has the most amazing kids, most of whom are grown up. But one has to wonder just what an amazing mom she is because every time I meet one of them – they are truly the nicest of energetic, confident and charismatic individuals. This of course doesn’t stop me yanking Sue’s chain a little, but as I’ve said before; Sue gives as good as she gets and is a straight arrow. If you ever get chance to meet Sue, your life will be better for it.

Anyway… Back into the sweat box for the final session mediated by the awesome Sarah Smith. This final session covered something that is becoming what I believe is a serious blight of the web; the true “Big Brother” issues surrounding the Web 2.0 and social media.

Ever since the dawn of the ability to write a letter, social media has grown and grown. Now that information is for sale, that information is all about you, me and everyone. Privacy is getting seriously trampled on, so in light of this two authors “Andrew Keen” and “Nick Harkaway” who have differing opinions on this subject took to the stage. In my own personal view, I feel both of them were 75% correct, but were offering no middle ground; they seemed to be at one extreme or the other.  Thankfully signed copies of their books were given out at the end of the day, so I’ll be sure to take my time and read both.

Typically I have been a little scathing at some things. While it was hot, we can’t blame Google for weather Gabsatrucker brought from the US, but in all things these were discussions. Insightful and highly educational – but simply discussions… who knows what they will amount to. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, enjoyed meeting the people I did, enjoyed Aleks Krotoski’s work and left in fear of what the surface media will make of it all.

Running for Joplin

It was year ago next Tuesday the 22nd May, that the small town of Joplin, Missouri hit TV screens around the world, and almost instantly the un-edited videos appeared on YouTube displaying the true nature of what had occurred as fights for survival were still happening.

It wasn’t a case of the magnitude of what happened in Japan or in many other places. But for the most part it was proportionately the same. A town was almost wiped from the map with over 160 dead and over 900 seriously injured. Identification was sometimes near impossible due the frankly horrific nature of what happened that day. This was of course a mile wide Tornado with winds in excess of 200 mph – a rare EL5… Stories of heroism abounded, stories of survival against all the odds and videos of both still litter YouTube.

It’s times like these that only selfless acts can or will save lives and those whose job it is to help, have to risk their own lives in order to save others – if you want to know what life is about, what true success is, then you just read it. Here is a video by CBS News that says it all – Joplin; a year on…

This Saturday I’m proud to say that Gabby, better known as Gabsatrucker is running in and for Joplin. Yes it’s a Half Marathon that raises money for the town – but it also tells a people that others still care deeply enough to help and to be there to help rebuild lives in whatever small way they can.

Published in: on 18 May, 2012 at 15:50  Comments (1)  
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Austin… the saving grace of Texas

Now I could go into the history of this City, the capital of Texas – but that is what Wikipedia is for… so go there to read it ;-)

I on the other hand will write of my brief experience of this Oasis of a city and one I’d like to return to. Beyond the complaints of the I-35, a little known parking lot that runs the entire length of Austin. As you approach Austin at night it looks like an oasis of high-tech and modern living. Indeed, Andrew Baron of Rocketboom even called this city “The saving grace of Texas” and for the most part I can see why.

Oh, it is an oasis… but furthermore it’s also a city of culture and has a “cosmopolitan feel” if you like. Like all modern cities though, the concept of skyscrapers in the centre have not escaped Austin, crushing much of it’s history into oblivion. Yet down there in the heart of it is the famed and acclaimed 6th Street and if you add in 4th, 5th and Congress Avenue… then there is more than a heart beat or pulse of this city’s history and entertainment right there.

These days, the area of South Austin seems to have a greater vibe, open parks, restaurants, leafy suburbs and a greater “wellbeing” feel. Something I found very attractive and yes from what I could see, it’s obvious the town planners have long term goals for making the city greener and healthier than most.

Austin like any large city has its good and bad, the first day we walked down 6th Street (2nd Jan) around 2pm and a full on brawl broke out in front of us. Two guys punching the living daylights out of each other without a care in the world of who they bounced into, or where in the world they were from.. No police presence, and while I sidestepped them as they flew past – this blogs buddy @Gabsatrucker got fully barged out of the way by them, just before skulls met the concrete sidewalk. This was certainly, how should I say… interesting… We went to Starbucks and I said “soooo, this is Austin huh?” Gabby on the other hand was really not happy either… This was on the back of the news that on New Years morning 3 people had been shot, one to death and someone was killed trying to cross the I-35… Kinda leaves you with a cheery feel… That and the fact that Austin has oh so many people begging on street corners in the 4th,5th and 6th street areas at night.

But nevertheless… there is a vibe to the city as a whole you can’t quite put your finger on, the south is awesome and the club names like Antone’s, reverberate through the music scene globally. In fact one night in Antone’s made up for a lot of the misgivings we had earlier.

Yes Austin does have it’s many sides, but it’s this mix that probably makes it so intriguing and apart from having to change hotels due to rather unpleasant smell at the first one – it is a city I will definitely spend more time to explore.

Austin also has quite a few interesting slogans “Keep Austin Weird” is something you’ll see just about everywhere and then the “Austin, Live Music Capitol of the World” and it’s fair to say they’re not wrong! It’s a city of modern culture, hi-tech industries, fitness and fresh air – heck they even name the flight between Silicon Valley and Austin the “Nerd Bird”… It also has to be right up there with as one of the biggest conference venues in the world along side cities like Dubai and with it being home to South by South West (SXSW) there are hotels galore – some better than others, but the closer you get to downtown the prices go from reasonable to extortionate.

This is one of the major centres of entrepreneurship in the US and certainly with regards to technology, but it’s frankly stunning that Dell computers does not seem to have anything for the public, nerds and geeks to visit or see… In fact I was seriously surprised there was little in the way of Dell’s visibility at all – certainly an opportunity lost on Dell’s part. A “Dell Technology Showcase” or “Experience” is seriously needed.

With so much going on I think the city will grow, continue cleaning its image. But if you want to enjoy a fitness lifestyle, then look no further than this awesome city with the Lance Armstrong cycle way, large parks and running areas and even a park on the water front with a special area to allow dogs to run freely.

Yes, it’s right to keep Austin weird, but it’s also right to redesign and build for future tourism, future-tech transportation systems and greener more hi-tech lifestyle and I really think Austin will…. Because if it doesn’t, it’ll just grow more monolithic buildings and increase its number of tourist t-shirt shops that will be more about a “has-been” city than the heart and soul of the great state of Texas… I some how doubt that will happen though :-)

Austin is (with insight from; Andrew Baron, Gabsatrucker and Mary Hennig and adored by Dr Sue Black )

100% TWBrit Highly recommended

I guess I should make an actual TWBrit approved logo now then lol…

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