The weather outside is frightful, or at least it seems to have been for an eternity but finally there are signs of improvement. Saying that, even today on Friday 12th April, there are the remnants of snow drifts beneath hedgerows on each road out of the village. Still, the dafodills are blooming and things are definitely on the up, thank the Lord!
Staying with the positive trend I’m pleased to be able to say that Caught In The Act is finally available for those who’d like to order a copy. How the hell we’ll ever recoup our outlay on this project I’ve no idea but do you know what? I don’t even care any more. We’ve done it! If I had a pound for each time I doubted the project would ever get finished I’d be a rich man.
Was it worth all the effort? Well why don’t you watch the first 6 minutes of Disc One; go on, be my guest and then tell me. You can watch it in HD on Youtube if you have a decent Internet connection and if you happen to be a blogger, well come on guys, you all read this(!) do me a favour and embed it in your own blog. Any promotion of the project is really appreciated.
On the subject of promotion can I say a big thanks to Brian Roberts who writes the excellent Pike Blog. Brian is an animator/ cartoonist and sent me this cracking little cartoon right out of the blue. Both Stu and I loved it. Thank you Brian!
Both the Times and Mail gave us fantastic coverage this week about the making of the films and with a bit of luck they’ll follow up with reviews.
Very soon those folk who were first to place an order will be receiving their copies and I look forward to the feedback from these viewers on the various forums. Of course, I wonder how long it will be before some scroat uploads it to a file sharing site. It’ll happen, there’s not much we can do to stop it, but it will still hurt considering the effort we’ve put in. After all it’s not like we’re a Time Warner, a Sony Corporation or Microsoft. We’re just two regular blokes who put our own money on the line and invest 3 years worth of effort.
Saying that, Bill Gates famously wrote to the hobbyist community regarding illegal copying of his then Micro-Soft company’s BASIC paper tape. It read like this:
AN OPEN LETTER TO HOBBYISTS – By William Henry Gates III
To me, the most critical thing in the hobby market right now is the lack of good software courses, books and software itself. Without good software and an owner who understands programming, a hobby computer is wasted. Will quality software be written for the hobby market?
Almost a year ago, Paul Allen and myself, expecting the hobby market to expand, hired Monte Davidoff and developed Altair BASIC. Though the initial work took only two months, the three of us have spent most of the last year documenting, improving and adding features to BASIC. Now we have 4K, 8K, EXTENDED, ROM and DISK BASIC. The value of the computer time we have used exceeds $40,000.
The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1. Most of these “users” never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2. The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour.
Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?
Is this fair? One thing you don’t do by stealing software is get back at MITS for some problem you may have had. MITS doesn’t make money selling software. The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the overhead make it a break-even operation.
One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free?
The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software. We have written 6800 BASIC, and are writing 8080 APL and 6800 APL, but there is very little incentive to make this software available to hobbyists.
Most directly, the thing you do is theft.
What about the guys who re-sell Altair BASIC, aren’t they making money on hobby software? Yes, but those who have been reported to us may lose in the end. They are the ones who give hobbyists a bad name, and should be kicked out of any club meeting they show up at.
I would appreciate letters from any one who wants to pay up, or has a suggestion or comment. Just write me at 1180 Alvarado SE, #114, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87108. Nothing would please me more than being able to hire ten programmers and deluge the hobby market with good software.
Bill Gates, General Partner, Micro-Soft
I know Martin (Bowler) and Hugh (Miles) feel the same way about folk who rip-off their work using peer-to-peer download sites. You sometimes have to wonder whether the effort and pain is worthwhile.
The River Season Grinds Down To Bitter End
I’ve been less active on the fishing front this past few weeks, mainly because I’m experiencing a few unpleasant health problems. I’ll not bore you with details but any adverse side effects to drugs isn’t pleasant, especially when it’s cumulative and you’re not expecting it. Inevitably we fear the worst when it happens and it’s fear of the unknown that gets to you. Let’s just say that right now I’m probably the last man you should expect sympathy from if you’re complaining about man-flu.
Of course, we all need perspective. I was floored by news of good friend being taken ill. A bloke I have absolute respect for, forty years old, married, two kids, one barely a couple of months old and he discovers he’s got a growth inside his head… apparently it’s inoperable. Literally as I write this he’s having exploratory surgery at Addenbrooks Hospital to see exactly what it is they’re dealing with and try to determine a course of treatment. I spoke with him a couple of days ago and he was more positive and optimistic than me. I pray that kind of spirit will pull him through what will be a horrid time ahead.
Kind of puts my bankside exploits into perspective, eh? Utterly pointless. But whatever, let’s reflect on a few of the trips you’ve missed.
I spent a bit of time fishing the River Don around Meadowhall in a landscape that’s as urban as you’ll find. Just didn’t seem right to be catching wild brown trout and grayling in the corridor of defunct steelworks, call centres and industrial units, but there you go.
Enough folk stopped by to ask what I was catching, to suggest better areas and that if I was to come back in summer I’d probably catch barbel. Friendly folk these Dee-Dahs.
I did have one spectacular day catching chub after chub from a tiny stream but if you don’t mind I’ll gloss over that because so many folk don’t really care what you catch, all they want to know is where, what swim and how much does it cost. The answer to all these questions in this instance is **** off and mind your own business! Can a man not retain one bit of privacy? One little private oasis?
A trip to the Idle proved to be a lot harder than I’d anticipated. The river looked spot on for chub carrying just a tinge of colour, good flow but not too high. My first swim choice was obviously a very good one because it turned out I was not the only one fishing it. I’d crept up towards this overhanging bush and quietly flicked out a small cage feeder. Minutes later a bloody goosander surfaced right above my feeder, spotted me, panicked and went absolutely mental. So much for my banker swim.
I worked the entire length concentrating on all the chubby looking lies and it wasn’t until the very death that I caught a fish with my only bite of the trip.
Tackling the Trent needed a lot more enthusiasm than I could muster but it had to be done. On the final morning of the season I threw barbel, zander and chub gear into the back of the van but still couldn’t raise sufficient motivation to leave home before lunchtime. It’s been that kind of winter, hasn’t it?
Anyway, I parked up, grabbed the chub rod and wandered up the bank looking for likely spots and guess what? The bloody gravel barge was coming towards me, loaded to the gunnels and pushing about ten million gallons of water aside as it swept downstream towards wherever it goes. I haven’t a clue. What I do know is that it stirs up the silt and frequently kills the fishing for an hour or more. Bollocks!
It was not exactly an optimistic cast that flung my first feeder-full of bread in the river and I struck on auto pilot when the tip wrapped round. I was not expecting that!!!
Within an hour I’d had four nice chub and was starting to think my luck was in, at last. After all you don’t catch small chub on the Trent these days, do you?
Enthused, I walked all the way back to the van and grabbed a barbel rod before walking downstream to where I knew I could catch one. I doubt there’s a more reliable barbel swim on the whole river, winter or summer.
I was wrong. But it just goes to show how the slightest bit of encouragement is sufficient to incite a ridiculous levels of optimism in a desperate angler. I gave it a full hour before coming to my senses and then I tried another swim for a further hour to no avail. It was now late afternoon, approaching barbel time, approaching zander time, too. What should I do?
Don’t trouble yourself trying to decide. I decided to quit. I’d had enough of this crappy river season and crappy winter and went home. Even the possibility of catching another double figure zander couldn’t do it for me. I was done. Through with it all. Finished.
Roll on summer!
It was time to say goodbye to rivers and hopefully winter, too. Time to start thinking of spring species but not before one last hurrah with PAC General Secretary Alan Dudhill. Alan reckoned his top secret water was due to throw up a lump and invited me down to share a day with him.
Of course I jumped at his invitation and what a day we had putting the world’s ills to right and catching loads of fish, too. Mystic Al was spot-on with his prediction and a big girl did materialise. He genuinely was apologetic that he caught her and would have preferred she fell to my rods, etc.
Do you think I gave a toss? No way. And we got much better pictures with me on being the camera!
It was a great day all round despite driving through heavy snow on the way to meet him. At least it didn’t hang around.
Trust Publishes Multi-Lingual Posters
So, the rivers are now shut. Good to see the Angling Trust being proactive by publishing closed season notices in four foreign languages. I’m 100 per cent behind this and I’m especially pleased to see the first message is written in English.
After all, there’s no point in trying to coerce foreigners into accepting our rules if the likes of Bob James are going to flagrantly ignore them. We need to put our own house in order before we start pointing the finger at foreigners.
So Much For Winter Sun
With the season behind me I decided to take a break and soak up some sunshine in sunny Madeira. It was a family holiday but Sue suggested I might like to fit in a fishing trip. Wrong season for marlin but there are plenty more fish in the sea, aren’t there?
Well unfortunately that’s where they stayed because the weather was sh*te! We booked two tours to explore the west and east ends of the island. It is a truly spectacular place, so they tell me. Visibility down to 20 yards in the mountains was bad enough but seeing snow on the ground and dodging hailstones isn’t exactly fun when your wearing shorts and a t-shirt. And just for good measure the sea was being whipped up by strong winds and no boats were venturing out.
However I did spot a fish in Funchal market that I’d like to catch sometime called a scabbard fish. Kind of a cross between a tiger fish and a conger eel. Hmmm….
Call The Police – I’ve Been Mugged!
Having ordered a dozen rashers of nice smokey bacon in the butchers this morning I fished out some cash to pay for it. Proffering what I presumed was a ten pound note you can imagine I was less than amused to discover my ‘tenner’ turned out to be a K100 note rather than 10 English pounds which someone must have slipped in my change.
How ironic then that a few weeks before I’m due to head out to Zambia someone has mugged me off with a Zambian bank note. What is further frustrating is that despite visiting Zambia as recently as last October I have never handled any Zambian money because all our transactions over there are made in US Dollars. Oh, well, thinks me, at least I can spend it while I return.
That is until I checked the currency converter and discovered that K100 was worth approximately one penny… Gutted or what?!!!
Of course the passing of Margaret Thatcher has polarised opinion but is rioting in the streets an appropriate way to react? I doubt that half the people who will inevitably use her funeral as an opportunity to loot and burn while hiding their faces behind scarves and cowering inside hoodies, of course, were even born when she was voted into power in 1979. And should anyone have forgotten, Maggie was elected not once as Prime Minister but in three consecutive elections?
How did that happen if she was so unpopular?
Under Thatcher we didn’t yield to the Argies, cower down to EEC legislation, to ridiculous H&S rules, nor open our doors to every economic migrant in Europe and welcome them here with gifts of council houses and generous benefits.
So why now, after she’s dead, do these activists want to make their feelings so brutally public? And what is the point? Why not when she was alive, when she could hear and see what they had to say? Sounds decidedly cowardly to me. Even in her eighties and a frail old woman they were afraid of her.
It’s an absolute affront that the BBC should use our license money to broadcast the nursery rhyme, ‘Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead’. What exactly does that achieve? It is childish. Moronic even.
Whether or not you respected Thatcher is immaterial. She was elected democratically by the British puplic to do a job and boy did she do it. There are plenty of people around who I happen to think the world would be far better off without but should I be lucky enough to survive them I shan’t be dancing on their graves, holding a party to celebrate their deaths or looting the local paper shop. Where’s the class and dignity in that?
The thing is, Thatcher wasn’t an upper class toff like so many Tories of the past, present and no doubt future. She was the daughter of a shopkeeper from a backwoods town so small it’s football team lies a lowly 19th in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. She went to a local primary school and then the local girls school before going up to Oxford (only after another candidate withdrew) achieving a BSc in Chemistry before becoming a barrister.
As a politician she was in favour of lower taxation, was one of the few Tories who supported the decriminalisation of homosexuality, was in favour of abortion, voted against the relaxation of divorce laws and supported the retention of capital punishment. There is no doubt she empowered women.
Those who carry the burden of irrational hatred and actually have a brain cell (the two are not necessarily exclusive) appear to do so over two issues. The Poll Tax and the Miners’ Strike. The poll tax is still around. It’s now called the Council Tax. Dress it up how you like, if you’re going to hand out all these benefits and provide public services then someone has to pay. You can call it the Piebald Donkey Tax if it sounds better but unless sufficient money is raised we go broke. Too many folk want everything for nothing these days. Sooner or later someone has to foot the bill.
The miners’ strike was a tragedy. When Scargill gave Ted Heath a bloody nose he was foolish enough to think the war was over. It wasn’t. He’d merely come off best in the first skirmish. A plan was hatched to bring him down. It wasn’t Thatcher’s plan, she was simply there to implement it. And it was a cunning plan, too.
I had the fishing rights to a pond behind a major power station back then and I watched the mountains of coal grow daily. Each day more trains delivered their payload until there was room for no more. The Power Stations had enough coal stockpiled to last a year or more. This time there would be no 3-day week, no power cuts, no ransom demand.
And the timing of the strike which, let’s be honest, was pre-planned and provoked by the Government, came at the worst possible time for the mine workers. Who needed coal in summer? But those lions were led into battle by a donkey. One who was so filled with his own arrogance he failed to realise he was being played. As impressive an orator as Scargill was, probably the finest since Hitler or Martin Luther King, he couldn’t read the writing on the wall.
So followed a horrid year. The most bitter in industrial history. No matter how sorry we felt for the miners it was a battle they could never, nor would they ever be allowed to win. The days of the country being dictated to by elite groups of workers was ended.
It cost jobs, wrecked communities, divided families and ruined lives. As night follows day the pits closed and so did the steelworks. It wasn’t an industrial dispute, it was a war and there was only ever going to be one winner. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.
Now Maggie’s dead. For many this represents closure. It would be wrong to hold a minute’s silence at football matches for that would invite and incite unpleasant behaviour among the immature and the ignorant. She did not like football or the violence that followed it around in those days but her passing will be marked with appropriate respect and ceremony elsewhere.
I find it rather ironic that those who regularly spout on Facebook about immigration, the Falklands, drugs, law and order, benefit cheats, the armed forces, liberty and personal freedom have so much in common with her politics yet they will be the one’s shouting loudest to decry her today. Sadly the hypocrisy of their actions is lost on them.
So then, who’s for a spot of looting and rioting to clebrate?
(Footnote: I will not allow this blog to become a platform for pro- or anti-Thatcher comments. If you’ve nothing sensible to add your posts will be deleted.)
The Footie Bit
The Championship relegation battle gets more fascinating as each week passes. Teams in free fall have given several no-hopers reason to believe they can escape the drop. It’s Friday as I type, the daftest day to pontificate because tomorrow could easily change everything. It’s so tight at the bottom one result can shoot you up or down the table. Two points split 19th and 23rd, 3 points between 18th and 10th. With 5 games to play it’s impossible to predict who survives and who goes down but as each matchday passes the outcome should become clearer.
Doncaster lead League One by 2 points with only 3 games to play. Some fans this week were calling for the manager’s head. He’s not good enough according to their wisdom! Brian Flynn took over along with Rob Jones when Dean Saunders walked (that bloke has never finished a job yet). Despite getting Donny relegated last season there are those in the Keepmoat ranks who revere him as a managerial genius yet he missed so many chances to top the table. Flynn fixed that in no time.
Any one of the top 11 teams can mathematically gain promotion if you include the play-off route. In theory 6 teams can still can go up automatically although several of these teams have still to play each other.
It’s in Doncaster’s hands but do you know what? I won’t be surprised if they drop down into the play-offs.Twas ever thus. We’re the best of a crap bunch in a crap league right now and frankly not one of them looks to have Championship credentials. This truly has been an atrocious division but I wouldn’t swap it for the Premiership. I honestly cannot see the point of global brands like the Manchester clubs and Chelsea playing in the same league as Wigan or Norwich. I feel the same way about Celtic playing St Mirren and Dundee. These are catch weight contests, Davids versus Goliaths.
As for parachute payments, the sooner that farce ends the better unless you’re going to extend them throughout every division. A relegated Premiership side receives more in solidarity payments alone than a club like Peterborough generates in total revenue. Relegated sides can afford to hold on to exceptional players while those who get relegated from the Championship immediately have to put their entire squad up for sale although there could be an exception this year as the Venkies (or maybe Wolves) could become the first third division club getting millions of pounds in parachute payments.
How’s that going to benefit League One when all the other clubs are subjected to Financial Fair Play regulations and gates between thee and 8,000? It’s a joke.