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Put Simply

Put Simply
Musings on PR and technology news. The blog examines the news around the world and what is of use to PR professionals, occasionally deviating to ramble on a news story that has caught our eye. These range from the esoteric to the insane and back to
Articles: 1, 2, 3


We've moved
2007-08-13 12:00:00
As the new site will explain we've had a rather large amount of spam on this site.  So, in an effort to control the comments, and stop employees buying the cheap Viagra etc. advertised we've upped sticks and shifted to: bsp; Well that and Technorati was easier this way.  We're working on placing it back on the EML address but for now, take a look, let us know what you think. 
The silly season
2007-08-02 15:42:00
It is here again ? that time when the newspapers are full of strange stories because everyone has gone away for the summer holidays.  What have we had so far:  Every paper and broadcaster has been stirring up swimmers with stories of a great white shark off the coast of Cornwall. (It is believed to be a 1.5m porbeagle shark, often mistaken for a great white due to its shape and grey back with a white belly, as one has been found washed up in Cornwall).  The fact that toner in inkjet printers is more dangerous than passive smoke ? so are all the printers going to be outside the front door printing away in isolation now?  Red wine ? good or bad for you? One day the reports say that even two glasses a week will make you more susceptible to bowel cancer and on another we learn that red wine may protect the brain from alcohol-related damage.  Roll on September when they return to the boring stuff that is real news. 
More About: Season , Silly , Seas
Talking about flooding
2007-07-26 15:23:00
Surely in this high technology someone can invent something more effective, easily portable and faster working than the sandbag? 
More About: Talking , Flooding , Odin , Flood
Manners maketh the man
2007-07-26 15:20:00
Manners maketh the man  At least that was what I was brought up to believe ? alongside ?do as you would be done by?, ?remember you Ps and Qs? and other phrases that reminded you that you were not the most important person in the world.  Outdated values you may say but, like Jaime?s comics, something that should not be discarded without thought. The more you think how your actions will impinge on others the more you are likely to ?do the right thing?.  Now I am not bitter or anything but this thought came to me this weekend when my neighbours had been back from holiday for a few days. Prior to leaving they had asked me to water their newly planted trees while they were away which I duly did alternate nights, taking 20 minutes each evening. I also put their bins out for them so that they did not come back to smelly rubbish. Have I had a word of thanks so far ? what do you think? Outcome - I wont be doing that again.   It is a shame that peo...
More About: Manner , Manners , The Man
Back int day when newspapers were for wrapping up chips...
2007-07-25 16:16:00
Still in a lather following Prince?s covermount on the MoS, the papers got all a bit unnecessary this week, speculating who might be next to give their latest release away for free.  Wait for it.  Close your eyes.  I said CLOSE YOUR EYES!  Look, I know they?re open or else you wouldn?t be able to read this?  OK, I?ll put you out of your misery.  The rumour is that none other than Madness will put their new CD on the cover of the NotW.  Woo.  Anyway, what I find quite interesting about all this is how it seems to be treading in the footsteps of the children?s magazine business model.   A quick overview for the uninitiated:- Back in the olden days, children up and down the land would squeal with glee as the letterbox clattered. Casting aside their Readie Brek, turning away from Why Don?t You, they?d skid along the hallway (stopping only briefly at the coat rack to admire their Parker and finger...
More About: Newspapers , Newspaper , Ping , Papers
Just our luck
2007-07-24 17:40:00
I?m off on holiday at the end of the week so as this is my work blog I?ll be silent for a week or two.   There?s not a lot to top the flooding this week though ? on Friday just gone we had planned a party dragon-boating on the river for clients and press to celebrate 20 years of EML. At 9am, having reviewed the weather forecast, we held a council of war and decide to call it off, which was a tough call as a lot of people were coming and a lot a balloons had been ordered!   It was the right call tough as by 11am we couldn?t see the river (we work in a boathouse) and by lunchtime Kingston was closed to traffic because the road next to the station was flooded with a few feet of water. And the station was closed too! We sat in the pub Friday afternoon, with a few friends from the press who had made it anyway, and thought we?d been jolly unlucky.   At the weekend I noticed an email from a colleague to a client in Tewkesbury asking if they were OK? Then w...
More About: Luck
Keeping on the rails
2007-07-23 12:53:00
In a week that the company tasked with keeping the London Underground running went to the wall it was fascinating to watch a programme on the Bombay (Mumbai) railway system.   This railway carries six million passengers a day, runs 24 hours a day with over 2000 train journeys ? and it has a 0.1% cancellation record. In fact, despite the bombs it experienced in July 2006 at 1830 the trains were running at 100% by midday the next day.  This is purported to be the fastest, cheapest and most reliable railway system in Asia and to keep to this record the train only stops for 20 seconds at each station, so you have to move fast to get on and off.  Perhaps this is something that Ken Livingstone could take on board ? tubes only stopping for 20 seconds in each station could be fun. No one would ever ?move down inside the car? would they?  The downside is that it is also the most dangerous system in the world with 10-20 people killed each day on ...
More About: Rails , Ping
Rainy days
2007-07-20 13:51:00
There really are some days that you shouldn?t get out of bed and this appears to be one of them for EML.  We are 20. So to celebrate we are throwing a party for our coming of age. Alas, we planned it for a day with torrential down pour and the journalists, clients, prospective clients have all been called to let them know we are canceling it.  We still have a small, dedicated troop of journalists that are still attending since they had made the time to and we will still be having a few beers but the irony has set in slightly.  Now that we have canceled it the weather is perfect. A few clouds, sun streaming, you name it it?s right.  So I think there are two possible conclusions. 1) Never throw an event during Glastonbury, Wimbledon or when EML are throwing a birthday bash 2) It will be fine ? to quote ?It?s a mystery? 
More About: Days
Drink less tea - save the planet
2007-07-19 17:01:00
Switching the lights off when you leave a room turns out to be the best thing you can do to save energy. Forget horrid 7watt flickering energy-saver light bulbs and tellys on standby, just turn the lights off when you are not in the room. Well that?s today?s message according to which ever paper I was reading at lunchtime yesterday and I can well believe it ? look out for more extra sensitive PIR light switches in the very near future. Being a bit of a pedant when it comes to cash I?ve been wrangling with rather large energy bills since I moved house last November. I have the same number of rooms as my last house (more or less), the same appliances, the same family, the same dog so why am I spending over twice as much on gas and electricity?  I haven?t really got to the bottom of it yet but I will. Anyway this weekend I had a brain-wave, I grabbed my video camera and pointed it at the electricity meter and set it to record 2 seconds of video every 10 minutes ? then I l...
More About: Drink , Planet , Save , Anet , The Planet
Have the media got fed up with top 10s?
2007-07-18 18:31:00
An old weapon in the arsenal of the PR was a top 10 list.  Personally I was never wild about them but they have worked in the past, getting coverage for no reason what so ever.   But the media being fickle, they are finally reacting badly to them and the BBC?s attack on the American Software and Information Industry Association is a great example of the top 10?s death throws.  My guess is that blogs and other user generated content is making the old media react and put in extra benefits to justify paying for them and has finally given up on weak stories.  Lets go with the bigger picture. It?s my favourite way anyway. Where?s the industry going and when will it get there. Appear insightful rather than just reactive and saying ?wow, that was good, weren?t that company clever.?  So, in this light and the belief that nine in 10 statistics are made up, I give it 2 years and the top 10 will have disappeared for good. 
More About: Media , The Media
The artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince...
2007-07-18 18:21:00
...or Prince for short.  Last Sunday I was left with a moral dilemma the likes of which has not been seen Pascal's wager.   Imagine the scene. Me in Pooja News. A sweaty 1.40 in my hand, shivering at the prospect of buying the Mail on Sunday so I could get my other sweaty hand onto Prince's new CD given away for free.   I am the proud owner of no less than eight Prince CDs - even some of the rubbish ones.  AND I am also the type that stalks the stands of any major technology show with a binbag and snow shovel in tow to scoop up freebies.  ...and yet it was one step too far for me so I skulked away empty-handed. (well, except for a few sweaty coins and a carton of Ribena.)  But I suppose that's not the point.   Is there a newspaper in our land that didn't cover the story? Is there anyone left who doesn't know Prince is doing 21 dates this Summer?  Have you thought recently that you wouldn...
More About: Artist , The A , The Artist , Artis
Sprouts affect Lobsters
2007-07-18 18:13:00
OK, slightly crow barred in Sun-esque headline but Brussels and TV phones, what else could I do.  Well, it?s finally happened. There will be no new mobile TV standards in Europe and the countless thousand that have been developed over the past couple of years will vastly be rendered obsolete.  Brussels, or the biggest power in the centre of the dullest country in the EU, has declared that DVB-H will be the standard.  Whilst it does ignore the market forces determining what becomes the major technology it does at least avoid the Betamax problem.   When aye were a youn? lad we had a Betamax and several other items of technology that quickly went redundant. So I?m slightly glad that this won?t happen to me this time. Albeit I?ve also learnt my lesson and have become a late adopter anyway.  But the one thing that did intrigue me was the phrase DVB-H will have ?legal encouragement? in the 27 member states. Is that just a polite way o...
About bloody time too
2007-07-12 17:24:00
Oh wow.  How did this not already exist? Seems that Turing et al. are finally going to be commemorated for the work they did in developing computers.  Albeit, if you believe the films, the US cracked the code, stole the device from a German U-boat and ran a dummy theft to decoy from the real theft using exceptionally bad transvestites?and Eddie Izzard*.  They say that the UK and US are two countries separated by a big stretch of water, and they?d be right. But it is also language and self-attribution in the movies that does it to.   Still, good to see that the BBC will put a strong take on it. Gotta love that Monkey Dust.  Just, somehow I doubt that a museum will correct it but it is good to have it at last and, why wasn?t it done sooner?     *All the Queen's Men if you were wondering, a highlight in Matt Le Blanc's CV 
More About: Time , Me Too , Bloody
Don't wait
2007-07-12 15:20:00
Some helpful reviewer in the Times is advocating I wait ?till v2 of the iPhone to be released before diving in on the latest phenomena to come from Apple. Apparently it will have 3G, and some other things I don?t use now so why wait?   I waited for the current smart-phone I use and it?s rubbish, it was a year late, has 60 buttons, and has never quite worked as it should - so I?ve a new motto when it comes to technology, buy it now if it?s useful. Wireless headphones may be a good option too as I also read about the Canadian jogger who was struck by lightening and broke his jaw and dislocated the bones in his inner ear as a result of his iPod headphones channelling the current.   I suspect the next iPod manual revision will have an extra paragraph or two in the disclaimer section ? Recommended meteorological conditions?..    Anyway back to iPhone, the teardowns were interesting ? we?ve three semiconductor clients apparently on the honoured list and a...
More About: Wait
I'm not obsessed by Virgin Media. Honest.
2007-07-11 16:06:00
Two crucial pieces of information:  Factoid 1: I subscribe to Virgin Media - this causes me much consternation Factoid 2: The Virgin Media service was down on Monday night in the South West London area  So, what can we deduce from these facts?   Well. Because my cable was down, I've switched the telly onto 'normal' terrestrial analogue, you know, with just channels one to five.   Things I've noticed: Observation 1: The main clock in our house was the Virgin interface one on the telly. I miss it. Observation 2: I quite like BBC3 and Judge Judy on ITV3. But I don't miss them. Observation 3: On Virgin telly, you have to press '1' then '0' then '1' if you want to watch BBC1. On 'normal' telly you just have to press '1'. Is Virgin ripping me off in some kind of unnecessary button pressing scandal?  Two pieces of information that are even more crucial than the last two: Factoid 3: It's my b...
More About: Honest
Super Saturday/Sunday
2007-07-09 15:54:00
Last weekend was dubbed by the Fourth Estate as the Super Weekend of sport in the UK, not expected to be matched until 2012.  Not only was there the usual clash of Henley and Wimbledon but the Tour de France was starting in London, the British Grand Prix was at Silverstone, One-Day cricket against the WIndies at Trent Bridge and European Golf was at the K Club in Ireland.  If sport was not your thing then there was the global Live Earth concert and Hampton Court Flower Show.  It was a week for weather watchers as the rain continued to come down and the mud come up. But at the last minute it ?turned out nice?, the sun shone and all the events were able to play to full houses (an estimate 2 million turned out for the TdF) and finish on time - which had looked distinctly unlikely at the start of the week.  And ? the Brits did well overall. The ?wrong? Murray won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon in an exciting match, a first British winner for 20 y...
More About: Sunday , Saturday
I was a cable Virgin before you...
2007-07-04 12:53:00
Dear Richard,  I stuck up for you.   When I said 'for better or for worse', I meant it.  And all the while you were being seduced by the private equiters. I can't believe you've got into bed with them.   And after everything I've been through with Telewest and NTL. I thought all that was behind us.   There's plenty more fish in the sea, you know. Sky still wants me.  It's going to take more than a bunch of flowers this time.  Jaime 
More About: Virgin , Cable , Fore
Carbon tip-toe?
2007-06-26 16:19:00
I just spotted a story about Prince Charles' carbon footprint and how he runs his Range Rover on chip fat and took 20 staff to New York to pick up an environmental award . I'm sensing a bit of tedium setting in with media coverage of excess energy usage and wonder how long it will be worth printing. It's been the wettest couple of days in the UK for ever, yet I'm not sure anyone's really convinced our energy usage is really to blame.  My kids go to a nice little primary school in easy cycling distance of where I live (and no they don't get driven) we have one of these trikes     and it's a talking point and really cheap to run. Anyway it was school photo time on Monday and the school that preaches recycling and green issues at every opportunity commissioned a bit of a surprise this year - school photos by Helicopter! Are you serious? I questioned my 5 year old. 'Yes, and it was raining so we couldn't see up without closing our eyes' she ...
More About: Carbon , Carb
Equal rights for operating systems? That's just pointless.
2007-06-26 14:44:00
I’m normally on the side of the anticompetition lobby. I like the underdog. I use Mozilla Firefox over IE and Safari. I use Thunderbird over Outlook and Lotus Notes - well actually I don’t use Lotus because it’s pants. I even cannot wait for Songbird to get good to replace iTunes.  I was particularly overjoyed when I visited   But the anticompetition people are now being daft.   They are complaining that the BBC’s iPlayer, which enables people to watch TV over the web, is giving MS a serious advantage and therefore should not be allowed.  I can see a logic in their argument; people may buy more PCs rather than Apples or Linux based computers if one application is available for Microsoft and not for the others. But, it is a pretty poor logic. This would be true if any company developed software for Windows. And besides, Apple is hardly the purest of pure when it comes to anticompetition, iTunes not accepting the...
More About: Rights , Operating Systems , Systems , Equal , Equal Rights
Mud, mud glorious mud
2007-06-25 14:05:00
nothing quite like it for soothing the blood, so follow me follow, down to the hollow, and there let us wallow in glorious mud.  So sang Flanders and Swann back in the early 1960s in the duo's famed Hippopotamus Song. I think it should be revived as an anthem for the summer of 2007.  I seem to remember that back in April we were receiving warnings that it was going to be the hottest summer on record and hosepipe bans might still be enforced despite the spring rainfall - well someone forgot to tell 'him upstairs.'  Whilst the focus was on the mudlarks at Glastonbury this weekend, there were many other events suffering from an excess of water and earth. I spent three days in Media Tent at Henley Women's Regatta watching the US crews wondering how they had managed to arrive in a brown field rather than England's green and pleasant land.  What is so British though is that everything just continues to go ahead. People sing in ...
The goose that laid the golden egg
2007-06-21 17:41:00
Just brilliant this one. The British Egg Information Service gets banned from reshowing its 1960s Go to Work on an Egg ads with Tony Hancock. The PR team must have got down on their wings and drumsticks in thanks to the British Advertising Clearing Centre.   "What?" they clucked  (OK, I'll stop with the chicken analogies...)  "you mean instead of paying for the advertising slots, we can just get it on the 6 o'clock news? For free?"  "For real?"  What a result!   But actually, I'm not wholly surprised that telling the public to 'go to work on an egg' is out of bounds - even the bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes with milk on the front of its packet only goes so far as to say it's a 'serving suggestion'.   And I've got a sneaky suspicion that the BEIS wasn't surprised either.  But I am impressed.   The spokesperson from the BEIS was practically IN TEARS on the lunchtime news, protesting at th...
More About: Goose , Golden , The Go , The G
Please Apple, cut the cra..
2007-06-20 12:10:00
And Sony, Nokia, et al. for that matter.  Will the iPhone be that great? I?ve been looking at the adds on the Apple site and come to the conclusion that its all a bit overhyped.  Diverting slightly, John Stewart?s Today show once compared the ultimate fighting to a multifunction phone. He reasoned that by combining the styles and eliminating the rules of boxing, karate, judo etc. you got a style that was devoid of grace, style, art or beauty. When likening it to a camera phone he said ?what?s the point, you just get a crappy phone with a crappy camera.?  And I?m inclined to agree. For all the hype will the iPhone be any good?  The phone has an iPod function, a great resolution screen, a phone, an average camera and here?s the but.   I use my phone as a phone. I text and make calls. I?ll rarely but occasionally send mms messages.  I?ll occasionally use the camera function on it but then do nothing with the pictures as...
More About: Lease , Ease
Hats off to the man
2007-06-19 16:32:00
I'll try to keep this one short but it could be difficult.  I used to work on the Human Genome Project. Not on the PR (well a tiny bit), but on the project itself. I?ve also done a couple of years working on the genetics of other creatures (mouse, rat, gibbon, puffer fish, chimp and chicken) and then went on to examine the interbreeding of the British lesser horseshoe bat at Bristol Uni.  During this time, especially when up at the Sanger Centre in Cambridge, there was one name that rang out with a synonym of scum, Craig Venter. The reason for this vitriol was his breakout from the HGP to set up a private firm and competitor to the open source project that I worked on.   Venter wanted to charge for the sequence?s use, making new drug discovery even more expensive. He was also working counter to Sanger and the 4 US based centres in sequencing just one, known person ? him. And discovering he had the potential for approximately half a dozen genetic ...
More About: Hats , The Man
Half of Britons are addicted
2007-06-19 15:30:00
To email it seems. According to the latest survey by one software company or another. Ok, Nasstar, whatever they do. My guess it has something to do with email.  And it?s got me thinking. How does this figure equate for PR firms?   My current firm is reasonable with only a couple of people sending emails rather than looking up to talk to the person next to them. But there are still hundreds of mails per day.  I think I spend more time managing an email inbox sometimes than I do working. And I doubt I?m alone. Charles Arthur, Guardian technology journalist and all round great grouchy bloke, has said he prefers IM, others prefer phone.  I personally loathe email. Especially when the person is on the other end of the phone but see it as a necessary evil.  That said, I would love to have worked in PR before the advent of this technology. In fact every profession, bar biotechnology, has suffered from the invent of the computer ?...
More About: Half , Addicted , Riton , Brito , Addict
The scales have dropped
2007-06-18 17:47:00
I finally relented last week and bought myself a wedding anniversary present.   A new set top box from Korea. I?d read the obviously-made-up rubbish reviews which claimed TV would never be the same again, I?d seen the cool adverts from Sky along the lines of ?you never have to watch TV when the newspaper tells you to again?. And?. IT?S ALL TRUE! I have to admit I?m not the one who gets in to trouble applying new bits of kit - kit works for me most of the time, and when it doesn?t a read of the manual always sorts it out.   This thing was designed with people in mind, ordinary people, who don?t care how it does it just how to get what they want with as few button pushes as possible. It?s even polite with its messages ?Are you sure you want to switch to standby there is still a recording in progress?? ? 5 years ago you?d just get an ?ILLEGAL REQUEST refer to manual?.?  However it got me thinking, being a natural techie I?ve always got recognition (and...
More About: Scales , Scale , Drop
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is
2007-06-18 10:32:00
Ok. So it?s not exactly WW2. The war is not going to cost millions of people their lives. But it is a war that appears to get more coverage than the British presence in Afghanistan.  That?s right ? It?s the high definition DVD wars. Sony vs. Hitachi. Or as I like to call it, Betamax 2 ? this time it?s personal.   Sony appear to have learnt from Betamax that having the best technology is not important. All that matters is people buying the product ? apparently. So I am sure that the company is delighted that Blockbuster is to use its Blueray disks exclusively.  This does also mean that there will be no high definition porn sold at Blockbuster.  But hang on. Surely this war is less important. VHS won because it had better content and because the tape sizes were different. If Betamax could have played VHS tapes then surely it would have won. But there are devices out there that now play both Blueray and HDDVD.   So I?ll plu...
More About: The Beginning of the End
At last, sport for geeks
2007-06-15 12:47:00
Oh god. Wimbledon is around the corner.  Aside from Murray Field / Henman Hill being once again introduced into the national vocabulary and the ladies who ordinarily couldn?t give a monkey?s about sport turning out in there droves there is one thing that bugs me about Wimbledon.  The amount of people that cling on to the sport and do marketing to link itself. Ariel?s perennial adverts with Tim Henman are a good case in point. Ariel has nothing to do with a tennis player winning but hey, lets plug an advert.  At least the PR led ones have a bit more of a connection ? we supply strawberries to Wimbledon photo stories etc.   But my guess is the next big PR led story to capitalise on Wimbledon fever will not be from this world. IBM has launched its Second Life Wimbledon, a demo can be found on YouTube. Those that are stuck in Second Life can then ignore their telly and see what?s happening with Wimbledon using the Hawkeye technology.  ...
More About: Sport , Geeks , Spor
Safari launches on MS ? so what.
2007-06-15 11:05:00
I work with Macs. I use them a lot. I get frustrated by not having several things such as Google Desktop?s rss news feed or the BBC news ticker available.   I do think that they are great when it comes to graphics and I loathe using Photoshop on my home PC but I would never have said that they are a must and most of its own internal software can be bettered by either MS or Mozilla.  Word, Powerpoint, Excel all seem to me to work better on my PC. iTunes is used solely because I have an iPod but even Mozilla?s Songbird is becoming a great alternative to this. And as for the web browser?  So I was a tiny bit shocked when earlier this week Apple announced that its Safari browser will be available on Windows. I have to admit, I looked at this story and the first thing that came to my head was? Meh!  The browser is pap. It (or at least the version I?m using) doesn?t do tabbed browsing, IE and Firefox both do. It doesn?t do the auto search av...
Aaaah my fingers are safe
2007-06-13 23:49:00
We?ve seen it before a hundred times in the films. Biometric data being stolen through various body parts being removed.  Yes it?s rather unscrupulous but it is apparently normal to do when in a scrape. And all methods have been done from pleasant to downright disgusting.   Charlie?s Angels used high technology to assimilate fingerprints, irises and voice to beat security in a sexy kinda way. Eyeballs have been removed in other films to beat the technology. Hell, even Dave Lister has used a dismembered hand in Red Dwarf ? and before anyone mention?s it, I?m not a geek as I didn?t say it was series five episode four ? oh drat!  If this is happening in the real world it isn?t a pleasant thought for those with anything worth locking up tightly. Not being involved in that sort of dismembering malarkey I can?t say if it does or not. I can see the Mafia etc. deploying these underhand techniques. And so, it seems, can Sony.  That?s right. Th...
More About: Safe , Finger , Fingers
The ever increasing map
2007-06-08 13:37:00
A colleague just directed me to this. Absolutely spiffing marvelous map of the web world.  Feel free to navigate to those sites of import. Click on the picture for a full size one.   
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