The Internet of Stings

Mark zuckerberg

Like it or not I have a namesake, another Kevin Ashton, he too was born in Birmingham, England and he is the person who coined the phrase "The Internet of Things". With the imminent arrival of 5th  generation wi-fi this phrase will become known more widely, as cars, fridges, lighting and heating in your home, washing machines and even toasters can all be connected to the internet.

Me, on the other hand, would like to draw your attention to the "The Internet of Stings", where people are crying out for governments to protect us when we are using the internet.

Protect us from fake news, because internet giants like Facebook see no profit in it. We keep expecting  social media companies to show compassion, to have a moral compass and do the right thing; we haven't quite grasped the idea that Facebook, Google and others are businesses, and just like bricks and mortar businesses, they will only do the "right thing" when governments make laws to curb their excesses and lack of responsibility.  If you are not familiar with the term sting, I have helpfully added a dictionary definition below.

Sting picture

 

Shopping Experience

Am I the only person in the world who's frustrated at the total crapshoot that making a purchase on the internet can be? Wasn't the internet supposed to make our lives easier?

Like it or not,  much of the stuff we buy these days is made in China.  Sometimes you can buy something inexpensive and you find over time it was a bargain because it lasted longer than you expected given the price you paid.  But equally other times you have to deal with wrong sizes, poor quality, poor communication, inaccurate descriptions, so sometimes you need tenacity and dogged determination to get your money back.  To me, this is not just about the waste of money it is about being cheated!

If Amazon or eBay were physical high street shops they would face far tougher scrutiny and more stringent laws than they currently do, and this must change.

Because  Amazon and eBay operate around the world they manipulate out of date tax laws to pay as little tax as they can. For example, in 2016, eBay in the UK paid £1.6million in corporation tax, even though the US parent company took in £1 billion in revenue from its UK operation. This avoidance of tax on a massive scale, deprives governments of much-needed revenue to help fix the crumbling infrastructure in the UK and elsewhere.  This tax dodging by multinational companies put the shops on our high streets at a great disadvantage, which is one of the reasons our high streets are under threat of disappearing altogether.

There are times when you are buying a big ticket item where it is preferable to go and physically see before you buy, but in 2019 that is getting harder, because bricks and mortar shops cannot compete on price. People even look at the item at a shop and then purchase online. You can't blame people for wanting the lowest price, but governments need to do more to create a level playing field.

Idiot manufacturers don't help the situation because they produce too many different models, making it virtually impossible to see all of your potential choices in one shop, again discouraging consumers from physically going to a store to buy their electronic goods. Some manufacturers in the UK will make a model specifically for one company and then tweak it ever so slightly for the competing company, which makes it hard to comparison shop.  

 

Poor quality photographs and the wrong information 

How many times have you shopped around for something expensive, only to find you might have to make your decision based on one grainy photo. You know the type of Ad where you click on the option to enlarge and the new larger photo is about the same size! Or you find the same item in two places but find the measurements different?  And details like that can be critical when choosing a fridge or a piece of furniture.

CEO of eBay

Barmy Times on eBay UK

Today a teenager with a PayPal account, or their parent's credit card, can buy packs of Sterilised Scalpel Blades - currently there are 2,301 listings.

I first heard about this from a young British adult 6 years ago, who used to buy sterilised scalpels to self-harm and told me that is where young people get their blades.

About the same time, eBay had told me that I could not sell an antique carving knife and fork because it was too dangerous and against their policy?

If you think I'm making this up then check my links, and here is a GB YouTube video on "How to make a Paypal account if you are 18 or under for free" 

Because eBay is selling other people's products they love to distance themselves from the untruths told in product descriptions

In my opinion, sterilised scalpels should only be sold to medical facilities (hospitals, surgeries and veterinary practices) under strict control.  Often eBay hides behind its vast size when things are listed on their sites that common sense says should not be allowed.

Lack of competition

Neither the USA  or the UK would allow one person to own all the newspapers, television stations or for one company to make all the cars, monopoly commissions would get involved and prevent a dominant company from buying up all the competition, but so far this has been allowed to happen on the internet. Google dominants search engines, to the point were even Bing is offering people rewards to use it. Facebook owns Instagram and Whatsapp. Even eBay hoovered up various companies included Gumtree, LoQUo, and Opusforum (all classified sites) where people could buy and sell new and used goods. Ebay also bought Qoo10.jp, to expand into the Asian market.  

Not that I'm giving Amazon a free ride!

Two areas Amazon need to focus on and improve are, getting rid of sellers who buy fake reviews and stopping sellers from relisting an item, once it has received a series of bad reviews.  Fake reviews not only misinform the buying public, but this bad practice also hurts Amazon's reputation.  Some sellers try to cheat customers in other ways by relisting an item so that potential buyers don't see the existing bad reviews. Roomy Khan wrote a great article about this subject for Forbes in April...see link .  Like eBay, Amazon needs to be shamed by us users into policing its sellers better, for the common good. Both companies make billions of dollars each year but try to distance themselves from criticism, rather than properly resource and solve them. 

GDPR, what a bad joke

In 2018 the EU passed a law called GDPR, (General Data Protection Regulation) that was supposed to protect European Union citizens and the use of their data. But so far this law has been a bad joke. For example, in the UK, if I go to a read an online newspaper I have to untick a lot of boxes to prevent data on me and my choices from being gathered, and in some cases sold. But the reality is that sometimes I have time to untick these boxes and sometimes I don't, so instead of protecting my privacy lawmakers have made the new rules so cumbersome people won't get the protection they need.

Sleepwalking to our dystopian future?

We can complain about our individual governments, we can lampoon the current US president, but no one thing until now stood to hold so much power over humans. The power that comes from larger annual revenues than many countries, the power to communicate with such a large segment of the earth's population and sway their choices. So far the abuse of this has allowed elections in various countries to be influenced, often from outside of those countries, and terrible crimes have been shared, even broadcasted live, thanks to social media.

Outside the realm of the world-wide-web people and businesses are held to certain standards, and when they break those laws and standards they are held to account, but so far internet companies have mostly done whatever they wanted.  To me this issue is as important as climate change!! And we need to protest about it. 

A wake-up call is needed and soon before our freedom and privacy are a distant memory and we live in a Dystopian world, for real.

Crazy Footnote-Toaster Madness

Crazy Toaster

The other day one of the plastic knobs on my 20-month-old Russell Hobbs toaster broke, the knob that covers the slider control. This knob doesn't prevent the toaster from working but it does make more challenging to use. Since the toaster was guaranteed for three years I was hoping Russell Hobs could send us a new plastic knob and solve the problem, but no, that would be too easy, too environmentally friendly. Russell Hobbs didn't offer me a replacement knob instead they offered a replacement brand new toaster up to the value of £45.  Most people might think their offer great, but is it great for the planet???? So I'm supposed to take the brand new toaster, and take my current toaster down to the local landfill because it is missing a plastic knob? This, in a nutshell, is a prime example of how bad our throwaway society has become.  Companies who disrespect our planet and are happy for working devices to be thrown away, all for the sake of ordering a batch of spare plastic knobs when the toasters are manufactured.

 

*eBay logo was downloaded from www.freeiconspng.com


The sorry tail of the dress I bought from Debenhams

Wallis Shift dress story

Several weeks ago I wanted to buy my wife a dress, something classy since she had an important work appointment coming up.

I found this particular Wallis camel textured shift dress you see in the photo in her size petite size 10, she liked it so I ordered it on December 5th.

On December 6th (according to Debenhams own site) it was dispatched and then the Odyessy began..........

 

Unlike when I have bought Debenhams own items this Wallis dress could not be delivered to my local Debenhams store, why I still don't know?

After several days the so-called tracking information had not changed, so I began to wonder if there was a problem?

So my wife called the customer service number (which can take a while to get through) and was reassured that the dress had been dispatched from Wallis and would be delivered by Tuesday 11th December by the latest. Well, of course, you guessed it no dress on Tuesday, so whilst I fixed dinner Sophie called to try and find out why her dress had not come?  She was told sorry with no explanation as to what had happened to the dress I had paid for. The customer service person said they would send an "urgent email" to Wallis to find out where the dress was? Hearing this in the background (as I prepared dinner) I asked why it wasn't possible to phone Wallis rather send them an "urgent email"? I was told this is the system they have to follow.  The Debenhams customer service person continued.....Wallis should reply to the urgent email within 72 hours.  This customer service person also said they would call my wife (since they had her mobile number) as soon as they had heard from Wallis.

It was at that point I knew I would have to do battle and shame Debenhams into pulling their finger out and find the dress I bought for my wife.

I can buy all kinds of items on Amazon UK and have them delivered the next day complete with tracking information but Debenhams couldn't even give me a tracking update after 7 days!  In recent times it's been reported that Debenhams is in financial trouble and their spokespeople say they want customers, but the management doesn't seem to know how to set up customer services and use common sense decisions about communication.

I reached out using my social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to try to find someone who worked for Debenhams who actually cared for the customers, someone who would not just quote platitudes and tell me that's the way it is. 

Update 

I started writing this story last December, and in the end, I got a refund but I was left feeling very reluctant to shop online at Debenhams or Wallis again.

The UK high street is shrinking fast because of Amazon and other online retailers, but the remaining department stores need to be run better and improve their customer service if they want to stay in the game.  In April 2019 Debenhams went into administration and is in the process of trying to trim down its number of stores to stay in business. By mid-May 2019, Mike Ashley began to mount a legal challenge to the rescue package because he lost £200 million when his shares were wiped out when the company fell into the hands of its lenders.

Ashley's company (Sports Direct) offered to inject an addition £200 million but his offer was rejected mainly because it was conditional on Ashley becoming chief executive of the department store chain. So thousands of jobs and pensions put at risk as these powerful men put egos before the good of the company's long term survival.

The future of the UK's 241-year-old Debenhams still hangs in the balance.  It is such a shame that the for years British high street stores have been run by numpties and bone heads, who seem to have totally lost touch with the concept of customer service and speedy service.  

 

 


A Rogue Food Site Called Recipeler

Recipeler logo

A few posts back it seems I could both make a point and be humorous, but at the moment it is hard to raise even a rye smile particularly when talking about the internet.

The internet has brought the possibility of worldwide communication, the chance for an oppressed people to tell their story to the world, for small businesses to sell their products/ services around the globe and for wrongdoers to be exposed.

For most of us the workings of the internet is a mystery, but just like owning a car we shouldn't have to be a mechanic to take advantage of the benefits.  But unfortunately at the moment, unscrupulous people are stealing from us left right and centre and we need to fight back!

 

Rogue sites

Continue to steal my photos and recipes and post it on their own sites; they do this first and foremost because it boosts their own search engine rankings, and because they think you won't notice.  In September 2017 I wrote about the theft I suffered from a website called The Black Pudding Club http://grumpyoldmen.typepad.com/grumpyoldmen/2017/09/the-black-pudding-club-theft.html  Currently, I am fighting with a rogue food site called recipeler.com

As far as I can tell all of the content on the food site called recipeler.com is content they have stolen from search engine results.  I'm not talking a few dozen recipes but a few hundred recipes, taken from sites like All Recipes without their knowledge or permission. A few of my high ranking photos were also taken and posted on this rogue site without my permission.

Although theft like this has now happened to me many times, it still doesn't make it any easier to take, I feel violated as if someone has robbed my house.  My copyrighted recipes and photos help me to get work, as such I defend them fiercely. 

I don't just blame the individuals that steal my stuff, I also blame the big players like Google and other search engines that make it so easy to illegally copy other people's property. Both Google and Facebook make billions of dollars selling adverts, but this is only possible because of the content we (all of us) create.  Without that daily tide of content, the world would not be watching and reading those ads.  Google and Facebook should be protecting our content against theft, if for no other reason than to protect its own financial interests, but that is not the case at the moment, so lawmakers need to step in and force them to do the right thing.

Worse still...

I found out the other day that Google+ Tumblr and Twitter are selling access to our data to third party companies such as compute.info

Haven't any lessons been learnt from the Cambridge Analytical scandal?   The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable said, "People should be "empowered" to sell their own

data if they want to, to share in the profits of technological advances." He continued to say "data was "the new oil" yet people were happy to give it up for free."

 

 

Back to the Recipeler story.......

As the internet has grown up and become more sophisticated so have the tools and methods to aid the theft.  In complicated situations, you can have several different companies that host a site or a conduit in the process.  Like other shady websites, recipeler.com do all they can to hide who owns them and what company has been used to host the site.

 

Telltale signs of dishonest intent

Recipeler has no contact information on their site, none whatsoever, which is always a bad sign about the honesty and intent of a website or blog.  So I'm forced to spend time trying to track that information down.  At the moment I am still sending emails off to verify which hosting company Recipeler uses, but I am close very close.

Here are a couple of Screenshots of my stolen photos on Recipeler.com

Recipeler theft 2

Recipeler theft 1

Here are links to my original recipes

Roast Belly of Pork with Apple Cabbage

Green Tomato Soup with Roasted Chillies

As part of my fightback, I have begun to contact other websites that have had recipes stolen to make them aware of the illegal behaviour of recipeler.com 

I will update this post as I uncover who is the host company and their response to the outrageous theft by recipeler.com


The Black Pudding Club Theft

Chicken Stuffed with Black Pudding

It seems that every year I have to fight hard to defend my recipes and photos from unscrupulous bloggers that think it is fine to cut and paste one of my recipes onto their site.  

The Why

Climbing up the Google rankings is a slow process if you are a new site; however, if you are unscrupulous you can copy and paste say 20-30 of the top black pudding recipes, and suddenly your site is now in the nosebleed section of Google page1. Having gotten onto google page 1 using other people's work, the site can now get organic traffic because most people will click on a link from page 1.  Which of course helps to keep them on page 1 and makes the selling of adverts possible.  

Copyright

If a piece of work has been copyrighted then it should NOT be used without the owner's permission, period!!

Making lame excuses saying that they credited me as the author and my blog as the source, is not good enough by a country mile.

Why should they gain google ranking benefit and possibly money (by selling Google Ads) from stealing my work? Just because a recipe on the internet is less physical than a car doesn't make it okay, in fact, it's worse because at the moment too much theft like this goes on, and perpetrators are shocked when you call them thieves.

The Culprit is a site called Blackpudding.club

They have lots of black pudding recipes from popular sites, some without permission, including one of mine they posted in January 2017.

Here is the recipe that was taken without my permission:  Chicken Stuffed with Black Pudding © Kevin Ashton 2005 

I did not realise this theft until September, so they benefitted from my high Google ranking for 8 months!  I wrote to the site. also to the facebook page and here is what I said and their reply:

Plagiarism by Black pudding club

Dealing the faceless perpetrators

It has often been my experience (when plagiarised) that the perpetrators hide their identity, as was the case with the blackpudding.club.

Even when they wrote to me via email they signed it  'Club Secretary', which just shows their desire to stay in the shadows.

 

The Damage caused by the theft

Even after the plagiarised (stolen) work is taken down, it takes weeks, sometimes months for the original recipe and photograph to regain the search engine ranking it had.

This sort of illegal behaviour goes on a lot but at the moment; the internet stakeholders (internet providers, search engines and social media) don't do enough to remind users what a breach of copyright is and remind them that using other people's property without permission is theft, plain and simple. 

 Links from my plagiarised recipe and photo were still linked back to this wretched blackpudding.club 7 days later on Bing, AOL, DuckDuckGo, MetaCrawler, Yahoo, here are just 2 examples. 

  Bing

Yahoo Search 18th Sept

Right now, on the internet, you have to be ready and able to defend yourself and make them wish they had never plagiarised your work.

Tools To Defend Yourself

  • Plan of attack: Although it is tempting to send an angry email to the site that has stolen your work immediately.  You are better off to take screenshots of the stolen work on their blog, also take screenshots of the results in Google and Google images, to prove not only the theft but the dates it occurred and show if it damaged your own search engine ranking.
  • DMCA Takedown Notice: If the site ignores your messages then you need to send them DMCA takedown notice ( you can google blank forms you can use as a template). Once you have sent them a takedown notice, you should also send another to the company that hosts the site.
  • Host Site: Often the host company 's initial response is they can't  be held responsible for what is done on the site, which is true in the first instance. But once you have sent them a DMCA takedown notice with the details of the plagiarism, which is a legal document, they are then also liable if the stolen material isn't completely removed from their servers.
  • Shout & Blog about it: If your copyrighted work has genuinely been used without your permission then blog about it and let the world know. You have to be factual, but if you stick to the facts, then you are only telling the truth.  Of course, the people behind the rogue site will be angry about the world knowing of their dirty little secrets, but it might make them think twice before that they do this to any other site.
  • Their Advertisers: If they are selling Google Ads or some other scheme, send them copies of the takedown notice to let them know the kind illegal behaviour they are being associated with.

Brexit-Explained

Brexit Explained

We at Grumpy Old Men decided we should give the outside world an idea of why Britain voted to leave the E U.

History

We signed the papers to join the EU (which was called the Common Market) back in  1972 and we became official members on January 1st, 1973. Back then it consisted of France,Germany, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and ourselves Great Britain.  Our attempts to join were not straight forward or short. We had in fact applied to join back in 1961, but our attempt to join was vetoed by French President Charles de Gaulle. This was the same Charles de Gaulle the British had sheltered during the Second World War and helped to rebuild and equip his French army (who had also been also exiled to Britain).

Common Market 

The Common Market was supposed to be a free trade block that would give British exports easier access to European markets, which it did.

But gradually, the idea of  having a European parliament and an ever closer union began to take shape. Historically this diametrically opposed our fierce feelings of independence.  All through our time in the EU, most people could see the benefits, but also the growing negatives of membership.  

EU

As the Common market enlarged and the move towards having a European Parliment, Germany and France exerted more and more influence on important decisions and the directions the EU moved in. European laws: the European (supreme) court began more and more to supersede the UK's own laws and wishes.  It seemed to many if France or Germany did not back an idea, then it did not move forward.

 

Belonging did not benefit the workers

If you look into the touted benefits of belonging to the EU most of them benefit businesses rather than the workers.

Many industries now have layers of new Health and Safety regulations, some are good but many are an example of bureaucracy gone mad.  To me, the litmus test the EU should be judged by is: are all of the people of the UK better off than before joining?  The answer is complex but in short, for most lower-paid workers, the answer is a resounding NO.

The free movement of people allowed British companies to hire people from the former Eastern block countries at lower wages, resulting in wages being kept low. Additionally, whenever the EU created laws to improve the working conditions many industries such as catering managed to lobby the European/British governments so they could opt out. In the last 30 years, protection of workers rights to sue for wrongful dismissal has diminished not grown.      Workers are often hired on much longer trial (probationary) periods than 30 years ago and can be dismissed without explanation.  Just like the rust belt of the USA,  whole swaths of the Midlands and Northern UK, heavy industry was allowed to go bust due to globalisation, but high paid jobs were replaced with low paid jobs.  

In 1999 a type of work grew up called zero hours contracts, it was touted as a way protect casual workers and their rights, to give them flexible working hours but in fact, it has had the opposite effect.  Large companies used it to cut their payroll costs, often calling in workers at the last minute to cover shifts, even making then clock out before they went through security checks after finishing work. Sports Direct have abused it to such an extent that the owner Mike Ashley was called in front of a parliamentary committee. Once again the EU didn't protect UK workers from this abuse, so from the point of view of a British worker what is the point of EU membership?

Immigration

Some in Britain who wished to remain in Europe said that people who voted to leave were racists, but that couldn't be further from the truth.  In my lifetime, for the most part, the United Kingdom has grown and progressed into a multicultural and tolerant society.

The issue of Immigration was never about Polish people or others coming to the UK for a better life, we all understand the urge to improve and create a better life for ourselves and our families. But UK businesses used this to drive wages lower and keep them low. Another fundamental part of this thorny issue is services like Hospitals and medical facilities.  If you allow an extra 3.3 million people to live in the UK then the government needs to build more Hospitals rather than close some down.

Throughout history, immigration to any country can become a more difficult question during downturns in the economy such as the Financial crash of 2008.  Since the crash, the Tory government has chosen to tighten capital spending rather than build or renew infrastructure, despite interest rates being at a record low.

When other poorer countries have joined the EU, all of those countries use English as a second language so it is understandable this has fueled the desire to work in the UK, because from their point of view UK wages are higher than the wages in their own countries.  

The free movement of people to work and live within the EU has become a cornerstone of EU policy but frankly, it is one made without thought for the future.  Britain is half the size of France but has roughly the same size of population (64Mill UK) (66Mill Fr) so when France's population reaches 132million then perhaps it too might start to wish for immigration limits. 

 

Balance 

UK citizens have had benefits of being able to work more easily in other EU countries, cheaper travel, easier travel (at least before 9/11).  Quite a few better off Brits have been able to buy second homes in France, Spain etc because of being members. Socially, I think it has been good up to a point of cultural integration and understanding.  It is argued that food prices have come down (in relative terms) due to our membership but since I can also buy many non-EU foodstuffs cheaper I think that is also down to globalisation. Often things in life have a balance and when that balance falls out of kilter it will cause a reaction.

 

The Shock

Many people, particularly in the southern wealthier part of the UK were shocked at the result of the referendum, and some continue to  be churlish about it like a petulant child.  European leaders were perhaps shocked even more so, never dreaming anyone would wish to leave the "club".  Perhaps if they had understood this they might have offered some meaningful concessions to keep the UK in the EU.

Ironic

If you were to talk to most UK voters who wished to remain in the EU and ask them did they wish to be part of an integrated United States of Europe, most would say NO;  when pressed for an explanation of how we could achieve remaining in the EU and  avoid the move towards a federal state they never offer any suggestion of how this could be done?

 

Leaving 

I suspect in the end leaving will create a long needed debate between the remaining countries, as to the future direction of the EU and whether it should become a looser trading block or a federal United States of Europe.  I hope the divorce is done in a reasonable way, though I doubt it, after all, we are talking about politicians.

 

Keeping our sense of Humour or Humor 

Just to show we at Grumpy Old Men can lead by example and show we still have our sense of humour..........

During my recent trip to Austria, I visited a well known Schnapps and fine vinegar maker called Gölles. During our private guided tour (by the owner's son), I was shown a room full of oak barrels and told for some years that they had been making and maturing whisky. Rather than join the growing number of Austrian single malt whisky producers Gölles made 5 separate whiskies from corn, rye, barley, wheat and spelt and when mature blended them together. Deciding to go in a fundamentally different direction than the rest, what else could they call their Whiskey other than Brexit!

Brexit Whiskey.png


Tumbling on Tumblr and other Useless stuff

Tumblr garbage-disposal

As any blogger will tell you, getting your efforts read is harder than you think.

With ever increasing number of blogs worldwide that create an ever increasing number of blog posts per day, you can easily spend more time promoting your blog through social media sites than actually being creative.  Worse still is many of these so-called, must belong to sites, bring very little traffic (people) back to your blog. 

Instagram is a site that brings very little traffic.  I have 403 posts 847 followers but I'm lucky if I get one visitor a week, even though I include the URLs of any recipe and photograph in the post.  The biggest shortcoming of this site is it does not allow the user to add a live link to the post, I guess the money people figure they want to keep you on Instagram, not having you wondering off following interesting links.

This is short-sighted because it would add to the overall usefulness of Instagram and ensure it's long-term future if it was more connected to the rest of the Web.   Let's be frank, along with all the breathtaking pictures of vistas, photo-shopped buildings, stunning food or gorgeous models, there is an awful lot of rubbish.  All that said, it most certainly it can amuse and delight but bring people to your blog, no.

Facebook For a time it seemed lots of people couldn't live their lives without it and would share every minute detail with the world (whether the world wanted it or not).  I do get some traffic from sharing my blog posts on my own pages and with groups, I belong to, but it is only a tiny fraction compared to the number of likes and comments I get inside of Facebook, which of course does my blog no good at all.

Never the less compared to the rest Facebook is easy to use, easy to understand and keeps you in touch with people you care about and has even helped me find a few long lost friends.

Google+ The Jekyll and Hyde of social media. I guess google wanted to set up a rival social media platform but in its attempt to be different, at the moment, it is just not as good.  In fact, it is pretty damn hard to figure out.  Unlike Facebook, every time you share a post it makes a replica on your own google+ page, so you can end up with numerous copies cluttering up your home page.  It is hard to fathom how a company worth billions can not come up with a better, easier to use design....Go figure???? Though I must definitely add google+ is extremely good at getting your work seen.  Many of my google+ posts are on google page one results, though don't ask me exactly how I did it?

Tumblr For a long time I have had this love hate relationship with Tumblr.

On the one hand, my Tumblr account ranks third in my google page 1 results when I type in Chef Kevin Ashton and in China, it ranks even higher by being second.

So for the last year sporadically, I have tried to share many of my recipes with my Tumblr account. But so far most of my very attractive recipes have not even gotten 1 note (the Tumblr equivalent of a like).  Indeed although many of my posts are tagged according to their own recommendations they don't even show up in Tumblr search results.  I've always had the feeling that renegade Tumblr was poorly organised and had built its name on porn and other fringe elements. But today Tumblr has a much broader type of user and content but unfortunately the inner workings of this platform is still an incomprehensible jumble.  The bottom line is if you can't get your posts seen in Tumblr search results then there is no chance of broadening your audience.

Determined to improve the visibility of my posts I wrote several weeks ago to Tumblr support, spending the time to explain and give examples of what I was talking about.

Their first and second response were about as lazy a piece of support as I have ever experienced from any internet company, anywhere in the world.  They just directed me to links telling me stuff I had already read.  Not to be so easily put off I used my LinkedIn account to locate someone further up the chain of command and pleaded my case again... twice in fact and in essence he did the same thing, just offered suggested links, one of which was partially out of date.  :) 

No one actually went and took a look at my account, that would take too much effort. So the other day I was sent one of those automatic feedback forms from Tumblr so I let them have it with both barrels, telling them their support was as good as a torn jock strap.

Around three years ago Tumblr got bought up by Yahoo for  $1.1 billion dollars in cash, but despite this Yahoo couldn't figure out how to improve it and start making serious money. So much so that two years later Yahoo admitted that the $1.1 billion was mostly a waste of money.  Founder David Karp, who is now CEO I suspect has mixed feelings about how things have turned out. On the one hand he's set for life with a fortune estimated at $200 million , but on the other hand,  "he's sold out to the man" or woman perhaps in this case.    Either way, lots of people grumble about the quirkiness of Tumblr and unless Mr Karp can find a way to make his baby less dysfunctional, the writing is on the wall.

Several years on, Yahoo, now a failing giant got bought by Verizon the largest telecommunication company in the US.   Perhaps a final irony for Yahoo, is it behaved towards some of  Tumblr's sales staff like the dictionary definition of its name,  "An unrefined and often loud or disruptive person".

The question now is does Verizon have the know how to  make Tumblr work, or it will continue to become less relevant as a social media platform and continue Tumbling towards the exit door?

©Kevin Ashton 2016

 


Mommies Boys (modern day footballers)

Jack Grealish Impressions

"Overpriced, overpaid with egos as fragile as an eggshell!" Are the typical comments you hear more and more about today's footballers. Why is it when a football team does badly repeatedly, the manager is the one who loses his job?

Back in the real world.........when most people perform consistently badly in their job, they are the ones who get fired.

For my own sins, I've been a lifelong Aston Villa fan supporting my team through thick and thin since the early 1970's.   Early on in this love affair the team dropped into the old Third Division (now called Division 1), and eventually climbed two divisions back to the top.  But in the last 25 years, as the player's wages have soared they seemed to have totally lost touch with the sacrifices ordinary people make to support their team.

Supporters are no longer willing to keep paying ever higher prices to watch their team play without passion or effort.  For some reason, players simply don't see the correlation between their rising wages and the raised expectations of fans, nor the shrinking patience when players seemingly don't give maximum effort.

Aston Villa Football club are a prime example of what is wrong, desperately wrong, with the modern game.  For all the millions that have been spent by the past owner and now the current one, it is still down to the efforts, skills, fitness and commitment of the eleven players on the pitch.  Back in the seventies when Villa was down in Division 1 (for two seasons) the team often played in front of 30,000 plus crowds because they were exciting to watch and never gave up.  The old wooden stands made a thunderous sound with stamping feet and equally, the cheering, chanting and applause matched the heroic effort of the team.  Walking back to the bus stop with a hoarse throat as we reminisced the highlights of the game.

For all the money sloshing around in the game, why are so many top prospects not instructed how to behave on the pitch, in public and to appreciate the special position in society they are given?   Instead, like a bad joke stuck in a repeating loop the acts of stupidity, greed, lack of self-control, poor choice of friends are constantly played out in public.  Where are the Academies in all of this? Where are the football authorities clamping down on disrepute brought to a game we gave the world?

Is it beyond the wit of man to teach these kids that the price of fame and success is to learn self-control, not just for the benefit of the clubs but to help prolong their short careers. In recent years my own team has suffered from more than its share of players never reaching their potential, often running out of chances and career before they grow up.

Tenerife Grief

Touted by many in the game to have tremendous talent, Jack Grealish has shown flashes of that talent for both Aston Villa and recently for the England under 21's. But even more memorable is his loutish, out of control, laddish behaviour.  This lack of self-control has already gotten young Mr Grealish into trouble both on and off  the field; but so far no amount of telling off's, fines, or being made to train with the reserves has managed to change this young man's ways.  For the moment, his repetitive bad behaviour is forgiven as long as he still shows such exciting potential. So will he reach that potential, or continue to be an accident waiting to happen? Jack joined Aston Villa at the age of six, so why hasn't anyone at the club taught him that part of being a professional footballer is good behaviour?

  Super sized Gabby

MacDonald's Man-Flabby Agbonlahor

But Jack Grealish is not on his own when it comes to badly behaved current Villa players. It was local gossip that Gabby Agbonlahor's car could always be seen in the car park at MacDonald's, no wonder he has constantly battled with weight problems. And when he is not scoffing burgers down, he is getting another woman pregnant!

Another product of Aston Villa's Acadamy, Gabby was touted as a future legend but instead of working hard, improving and flourishing after getting the call up from England, he has frittered his talent away. Now when he should be in his prime at the age of 29 he is in danger of being released. And just like many other footballers in the modern era, he is in denial about who is responsible.

This current plague is not just a problem for Villa's homegrown talent, sometimes buying a "star player" can bring the same results

Stan the Man

Stan the Man

Ex-Villa Player Stanley Collymore who now hosts a popular football call-in program has several times torn into the current Villa team (this year's and last) for their lack of effort and lack of loyalty to the club.  All of the accusations Stan makes are valid ones, but Stan has a short memory because his own career at Aston Villa was filled with his: lack of effort, egotistical behaviour, and only 7 goals in 47 games as a striker!

He too showed stunning potential earlier in his career by scoring 41 goals in 65 games for Nottingham Forest , which got him a transfer to the big time with Liverpool.  But after several mediocre, seasons they sold him to Villa.  This should have been his dream move after all Villa were the team he supported as a boy, but he has never worked hard enough to get past his demons to become the legend he had the potential to be.

 

The Enablers 

The success of the Premier League and all the money pumped into the game by Sky has glossed over these problems but they are not going away.   TV Pundits, Sky executives and the media all seem to forget where most of the money for the mega TV contracts comes from....us.   Not just Sky Sports subscribers, but all Sky subscribers (because they spread their cost), and now, of course, BT subscribers too.  Millions of ordinary people, with ordinary wages paying to keep this narcissistic bunch of wastrels in the style they have become accustomed to. The problem of bad boy footballers was around long before the formation of the Premier League and Sky TV, but the huge injection of cash into the game has definitely exacerbated and fuelled it.  It used to be that established, successful footballers would from time to time behave badly, but now the situation has moved on to where the starlets of the game are misbehaving before their career gets going.

This problem is not just with Aston Villa, other teams have their share of bad boys who constantly bite the hand that feeds them.  Yes, there are many decent, hard working footballers who do respect the privileged position they are in. And since they rub elbows with the bad boys at the training ground I wish they would tell these silly Mommies Boys to grow up.


Blogarama-Kings of Plagiarism

 

Blogarama logo

It seems as the internet gets bigger so does the theft.  People think they can post your articles, recipes and photographs (as if they are the author) without getting caught.  In recent weeks I have spent far, far too long defending my stuff from thieves. Every time, I have done so I have been successful but it is stressful and time-consuming when I would rather spend my time being creative.

The biggest plum of them all without a shadow of a doubt is a site called Blogarama.com

I recently discovered that had imported a feed from my food blog without my permission, they had even created a page Chef Kevin Ashton  (which you can see below) giving the impression I have done this myself. 

Blogarama page

Worse still if you look closely Blogarama invite me to claim my own blog???

They claim that taking my RSS feed is driving traffic to my food blog, but that is simply not the case.

Although Blogarama did link the stolen content back to my blog, because they posted the whole of each post there was no need

for readers to leave Blogarama and go to my blog. And my content along with the content of 1000's of other blogs create a site that can sell Advertisements.

I belong to a similar site called BlogCatalog, but BlogCatalog does not take your RSS feed without permission.

Blogarama did not use to be the rogue site it is today, but falling traffic and then a change of ownership they now seem to be prepared to whatever it takes to raise their traffic level and thus earning potential. 

After I sent them several emails, threatening legal action, they put a block on the content, however, this does not stop the links showing up in google results with blogarama.com still labelled ON MY PICTURES
So far I have 26 different screen shots showing their theft and I have posted just a small selection to show you what I mean.

Copyright theft by Blogarama 11

Copyright theft by Blogarama 6

Copyright theft by Blogarama 21

In this process, I have also come across numerous similar complaints by other bloggers saying they too had the copyright breached. If you are a blogger, I strongly and I mean strongly, suggest you google your name together with Blogarama to see if you are also a victim of this mass fraud, here are just two examples. The first is to an article complaining about Blogarama breaching their copyright. http://www.geneabloggers.com/splog-alert-blogarama-violating-copyright/

The second example is from a blogger seeking advice on Reddit and complaining how Blogarama had not only reproduced their blog content (without permission) they wanted to charge them $9 a month for the theft!!!! please take a close look for yourself.

Reddit Blogarama

 

 Google, Facebook and Microsoft 
The heavyweights on the internet like google should and could do more to help protect the creative work of others. Whilst this breach of my copyright is not google's fault, it does indirectly make a lot of money from the content posted on the internet; it would show good leadership if google, Microsoft and facebook found a way to make this kind of theft harder to do and harder to get away with. As the internet continues to grow so will crime until the principle players defend the content the Web is built on. Even reporting a breach of copyright is a daunting task filled with gobbledygook that dissuades many casual bloggers from fighting back.

All over the internet, there are people willing to take your creative work, change a few words and call it their own, it is time to stop them. 

Update: Taking a person's RSS feed without permission and then charging them $9 a month to direct traffic back to them is Extortion and I strongly recommend all Blogarama members to file a complaint with the FBI (regardless of your nationality) at this address https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx 

Not only do Blogarama hide who owns them using a company called WHOISGUARD, INC. who are based in Panama, they also hide where the site is hosted. They use a network service called CloudFlare. But you can fill in an abuse form and they will reveal who hosts Blogarama. https://www.cloudflare.com/abuse/form

©Kevin Ashton 2016

 


Taking A Dive

Sepp-Blatter story 

Taking  A Dive

I had this article almost complete just needed a little more back story and then..................... 

 Out of blue (or so it seems at the moment) Blatter ups and resigns.

The Houdini of FIFA

I cannot think of anyone , be it a politician, despot leader, religious zealot, president or  megalomaniac  who in my lifetime has faced down his foes and beaten them all soundly time and again.

 Joseph S. Blatter, commonly known as Sepp Blatter has once again shown the world he is the greatest escape artist since Harry Houdini.  

Time and time again football rivals, political leaders, ex-professional  footballers have all tried to get rid of him and yet he still survives.  I would venture to suggest that most of his time now must be spent shredding old files to prevent the trail leading back to him.

Over the 16-17 years of his leadership of Fifa, no other sporting authority has had more scandals.

But someone, maybe one of his three former wives should have told him to quit while he is ahead and at least admired in parts of Africa and Asia.  I predict this will all end in tears for the beautiful game and for Mr Blatter.

Thankfully now, EUFA doesn't need to choose the nuclear option for the sake of the game and withdraw from the 2018 World Cup.  But what comes next?  A clearout, prosecution  of the FIFA officials involved of course but should we call for the bidding process  to be re-run?

Krazy Ivansmall
Vladimir Putin, Time Magazine, 2008

Putin the boot in

Of course, if we did, Qatar would probably find a way to hike back up the oil prices, and hold the remaining foreign builder's hostage and threaten not to pay them (oh hang on a minute...they already do that).

And then there is everyone's loveable macho man President Putin or Krazy Ivan as I prefer to call him.  If the 2018 bidding process was re-run then don't be surprised if Putin marches tanks and troops into FIFA headquarters and declare that FIFA is now a part of the Russian motherland and start kicking out foreigners. I know this sounds like wild speculation on the part of the press, but who would have thought just 24 hours ago that Blatter would take a dive?  

 

Can the FBI save us?

I guess even more hope is now piled onto FBI to save us and find evidence that leads to the very top and clearly shows the 2018 and 2022 bids were bought.  In the meantime, if I was Blatter I wouldn't accept any invitations to take Afternoon Tea  with anyone from the Russian FA.

 

And now for something completely different

Just like the Monty Python name, don't expect an organisation so corrupt as FIFA to become squeaky clean after Blatter, too many people will think it is" business as usual"

Just like the cronies and despots of the UK banking world, they will continue to feed at the trough of corruption until the world collectively says no, and enough people go to jail.

Just like Jimmy Saville, Blatter for the longest time must have been convinced that he was untouchable.  If only someone had set the FBI on Saville 15 years ago whilst the so-called UK great and the good turned a blind eye. 

 


Job prospects for Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson Dinosaur

By now half the world has heard of Jeremy Clarkson's "Dustup over food", or at least he hopes you have and he would just like to take this opportunity to encourage millions more to sign his petition because he has run out of fake names to sign the petition.

It's a sad state of affairs when an out of control egomaniac is supported by the British Prime Minster.  Whereas  ordinary  workers up and down the UK would have been fired 4-5 gaffs ago.

I find it even stranger that other celebrities are lining up to defend this idiot, does that mean they agree with his views?

BBC, hopefully, will show some moral backbone and fire Clarkson and you know what ....The world and TV will still go on.

Trying to get ahead of the rest of the media, I thought I do some brainstorming about possible jobs Jeremy could try his hand at.

 

Jobs that might suit Jeremy Clarkson 

Write a Children's book -entitled  Tales of The Inflated Dinosaur

Jeremy could go into primary schools in costume tell adventure stories about Ego the dinosaur

Food critic for the Birmingham Post- a chance to rebuilt bridges after slating Birmingham on several occasions . 

UKIP candidate -a chance to espouse his  racist, homophobic, anti-Asian views  and get paid a lot less for it.

Anger Management Councillor-specialising in helping public figures confront their demons.

Public Relations Lobbyist -for Twyford toilets after bolting a toilet to a car whilst filming in India.After all, they have over 160 years experience of dealing with crap.