Plugs

I used to travel to Rochester NY quite a lot. On the sides of their buses they had a sign that said “Does advertising work? It just did”.

This used to annoy me a lot, as you can probably imagine, at least in part because I was never quite sure what the sign was advertising? Advertising space, on the side of a bus? This kind of thing:

So, advertising.

I don’t know. Do you find it as annoying as me? Everything seems to carry advertising these days. Look at sport. On cricket, the batsmen, umpires, bats, stumps, scoreboards, well, everything except the ball, even the grass carry the stuff. Virtually every part of a formula one car, and driver, and mechanics is covered in the stuff. If you use an app on your tablet or phone, the advertising covers the screen. I play a little Words With Friends (aka Scrabble clone). You can’t see the scores as there is a banner headline advert that covers it. After every move you are taken to an advert, usually for a fruit based game. Often you can go back and skip it, but then your device locks up for ten seconds as a punishment.

Advertising seems to cover everything. I try very hard to avoid it. For example, if I am watching a tv programme on a non-BBC channel I will record it, that is time shift it, and skip the ads.

You know the advertisers hate me doing this. On YouTube they conveniently provide a ‘skip’ button to move on after five seconds has elapsed, though some longer ads just go on. Quite often they are a rather smug Jeremy Clarkson advertising himself. Sorry guys, if I can’t skip the ad, the clip won’t be watched, nor will any others by you.

I know what you are going to say – you can’t get free stuff for, well, free. Someone has to make money from it, for the effort they put in, because that is how the world turns.

Well, with an app, for example, there are things that are free and carry no advertising. Others, you can pay a token amount and the adverts go, at least until you update the app.

Mostly, adverts are not well directed. My tablet knows the kinds of things I like to do, and the ads should be designed to appeal to my interests. In truth, if I buy something, from a can of beans to a new tv, I know how to make my own decisions. And, to be honest, any product that has annoyed me with its advertising will never be bought.

Does advertising work? Not here…

Holiday time

A great thing about being retired is the freedom of time. As a teacher, my holidays were school holidays. If you wanted to go away, the prices were the highest and availability was limited. I know airlines are not supposed to charge more when it is school holiday time, but they do, and you can’t blame them. Supply and demand, and all that.

Having every day as a holiday means that I can pick times to go away when it is cheaper. I can pick flights at odd times. I am under no pressure to be back.

I was booking for New York City the other day, for next April. I went eighteen months ago and it is a great time to go. As soon as you venture into May, it suddenly becomes more expensive.

And what is even more annoying is that fees, taxes etc take up more than £500 of my total bill.

What is your favourite holiday destination?

Web sites

I do web sites for people. I’m not going to include any links as this is not an advert for my work, or for the people I do it for, and I am not boastful about my efforts. I do the sites for free, for fun, plus they do help the people concerned, and they are happy enough with them.

It’s amazing how many sites you find even now that look very amateurish. Spelling mistakes, broken links, missing graphics, shops or other systems that don’t work, childish fonts, you know the kind of thing. Given that there are so many tools available, like WordPress here that I am using simply to save effort, that can produce a really nice, simple but professional looking site with minimal effort, poor sites are inexcusable.

My pet peeve is keeping it up to date. If someone I know says ‘X is now Y’, and I am really happy to change it. I want to get it right. It’s for you, Mr (or Mrs) Client, it is in your best interest for it to be correct, and I don’t know. I don’t want to be saying to them ‘this has been the same since December 2013. Is it still correct?’ to get a lot of abuse about ‘I’m too busy to correct it right now’.

Sport

I have never really ‘got’ sport. I understand why it appeals. It’s mindless. Some sports ‘allow’ people to be abusive, violent, racist, drunk and it’s an acceptable excuse to do those things.

At school we played rugby something. No-one ever explained the rules, so it’s very hard to enjoy something if you don’t know what is going on. In the summer it was cricket. For a time, when I was maybe 10, I followed football a bit. Scarborough Town. Don’t think they exist any more.

I do understand darts, if you can call that a sport. Throw things at a target and get points. And snooker. Actually, watching snooker on tv used to be great as Ted Lowe had a soothing voice that sent you to sleep, but the current commentators talk all the time and very loudly and say nothing. One snooker ball is much like an other, except for the colour, and it’s all fancy potting and very little of what the game name implies, snookers (ie tactical play). And the current players lack personality. Too much money in the game, I suppose.

I get golf too – hit a ball with the stick.

The worst is formula 1 racing. You’d think it was about drivers driving cars quickly to see who is the fastest, but it now seems to be about the colour of the tyres they have. I know someone who loved it and went whenever she could. More than 15 years ago she was paying nearly £100 per person for the British grand prix. I asked what she saw. The cars zoom past, apparently, but you can watch them on a big screen!

I guess Wimbledon starts soon. There is all the clamour for tickets for the main courts, to see the British player, hey let’s not be jingoist, but then they all go off and the place is empty.