The Anorak Man

Introduction  

Roland BeaneyHello and welcome to my page. I hope you enjoy reading my articles and they make you smile. You might be wondering what an Anorak is, well in this case it is not something you wear but a person that is a passionate supporter of radio stations, particularly of pirate radio stations that once broadcast from the North Sea. I have been a supporter of Radio Caroline for most of my life and today they are still broadcasting on Sky digital and on the Internet 24 hours a day. When supporters went out to the pirate stations on boats the DJs saw them coming wearing their anoraks and so they said," Here come another load of anoraks" The term stuck and now it has become a name for a passionate supporter of anything. I suppose you could call bird spotters or plane spotters anoraks. My articles started in early 2001 when Chris the webmaster of Woodley Net asked me to do some articles about radio and digital TV for his website. Many of my articles have been printed in the Romsey Gazette. You can read many more articles on my own website by clicking HERE or email me HERE 

Smart TV the easy way

Internet enabled smart TVs let you watch your favourite films and shows on demand but If you don't yet have a smart TV but want to make use of all the new services a TV streamer is all you need. You can get services such as the BBC IPlayer, Netflix, Amazon, Demand 5, Now TV, YouTube and many more without splashing out on a new TV. A TV streamer plugs into your TV and allows you to add smart TV features to your existing TV set at a fraction of the cost of upgrading. You connect them to the TV through the HDMI socket and use your WI-Fi or a cable to connect to your router. Make sure that the TV streamer you chose can receive all of your favourite programmes as some don't receive all the programmes or services that are available. For instance if you want all the services provided by Amazon then you should try the Amazon Fire TV streamers, Apple fans can select the Apple TV streamer Google have the Chrome Cast or Nexus player while Roku have an excellent little stick that plugs directly into the HDMI socket of your TV. You will enjoy many hours of entertainment at a fraction of the cost of buying a new TV to get all the new services now available.

For Radio listeners many streamers also have a radio app than can connect to your favourite radio station. I've listened to Radio Caroline and many other stations using my Roku streamer and it works very well.

Changing face of TV's

Ten years ago a 32inch CRT TV would have cost you well over 1000 and it was so big and heavy you could injure yourself moving it around your house. Now you can buy a super slim, super light TV with a similar size screen for half the price and better still not only High Definition but now 4K TVs are becoming readily available. that is four times higher definition that traditional HD (also known as Ultra HD). Large and extra large curved screen TVs can also give you a cinema like experience. There are some good bargains available with HD TVs but if you want to be ready for the future then you could buy one of the new 4K sets that are now coming down in price. 4K content is fast becoming available and it brings with it stunning pictures and more striking colours with smoother motion especially noticeable with sports and action films. Also make sure you get a smart TV so that you can take advantage of even more channels and features now becoming available. Smart TVs can get the extra channels now becoming available of Freeview.

Smart Phones

Back in 1958 science fiction writer Arthur C Clark wrote an essay about a future world where everyone would carry a transceiver small and compact and the time would come when we would be able to call a person anywhere on earth merely by dialing a number. Such a device would include a method for global positioning so that no one need ever be lost again.

Now 6 billion people around the world own a mobile phone and only 4.5 billion own a toilet. Soon ownership of mobile phones will outstrip the population of the planet. In the UK during 2011 the volume of calls by mobile phones exceeded the volume of calls from fixed phones. Strangely they are more commonly used not for making calls but for checking the time, playing music, taking photos and now surfing the internet.

In London mobile phone thefts account for one third of of all street robberies. Its 31 years since the UKs first mobile phone call was made but even with its huge batteries weighing as much as six bags of sugar you couldn't talk for long because the batteries only lasted for 30 minutes and it took 10 hours to charge them up again. Imagine carrying them around in your trouser pocket. In the UK Vodafone had a monopoly in 1985 but only for nine days before Cellnet launched a rival service.

Now, you would think that science fiction writer Arthur C Clark was a very clever person for predicting that we would all be able to call a person anywhere on earth merely by dialing a number but what he didn't allow for was that most of the people would have their devices turned off so we can't contact them anyway and the rest have had them stolen, left them on the bus or mislaid them. Now, where did I leave my phone?

Call Centres

Do call centres send your blood pressure soaring? have you tried complaining to BTs helplines and then been re-directed to a call centre in some far distant country where the person at the other end of the line has a very restricted knowledge of the English language? I've been there and quickly got on first name terms with the guy on the other end of the line but that's as far as I get. I don't blame the poor guy its the person who employs them that should be sacked. If they were being interviewed in this country they would never get the job. They make a lot of promises but that's as far as it goes and they rarely solve my problems.

BTs best kept secret is a web based organisation called BT Care that you can access via an on-line chatroom called the BT Community forum. You can complain on the forum or send an e-mail direct to BT Care. Soon you will have one of their first rate trouble-shooters on your case who will sort your problem in no time. BT is top class in technology but never seem to have mastered the routine admin.

Ways to watch your favourite TV channels

There are lots of ways to watch your favourite TV channels these days including Freeview, Freesat or via the Internet. Some you pay for but many more you get free. Unfortunately many people could be paying for lots of channels they never watch or could get cheaper elsewhere.

Millions of people watch TV for free using the Freeview TV tuner built into their TV. You can also buy a set top box or PVR which is a built in recorder that saves the programme onto a built in or external hard drive. Many of the channels are in HD or high definition. Some TVs also have a built in Freesat tuner that gives you lots more free Satellite channels and you can even use your old Sky dish. Smart TVs have streaming apps and catch up TV where you can stream or download programs you missed. You will need a reasonable broadband connection for these but a tip if your broadband is a bit slow, you could try downloading your programs overnight rather than streaming them. If you want lots of sport then a pay TV subscription is the obvious choice but if you only want to watch the occasional match try Sky's Now TV where you can just buy a day or a weekly pass to get all the Sky Sports channels and you don't have to sign a contract. If you watch a lot of films then it will be better to sign up to a film subscription service but if you just watch an occasional film then for a small monthly fee or to rent individual films you could try Netflix or Now TV. They have a huge library of films available. There are still lots of channels that show films for free so check these before buying a subscription.

Hampshire Super Fast Broadband .. April 2014

Rural parts of Romsey, New Forest, East Hampshire and Basingstoke will be next to benefit from high-speed broadband speeds, as phase three of Hampshire’s Superfast Broadband Programme is set to provide access to an additional 11,000 homes and businesses between July and December this year.

 Hampshire’s Superfast Broadband programme is helping to fill the gap in rural areas, which would otherwise be left out by commercial providers. Phase three of the multi-million pound project will see cabinets switched on in the rural areas of: Lockerley, Lymington, Milford-on- Sea, Brockenhurst, Sway, Liphook, Headley Down, Alton, Tisted, Selbourne and Herriard - which are set to benefit 11,000 premises. To view a detailed map of the areas to be covered in this phase, visit: Project Phases.

The Hampshire Superfast Broadband Programme aims to provide at least 95 per cent of all premises with access to superfast broadband by the end of 2017.

The Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), together with the County Council and other local government partners, invested 10m in the programme to reach 90 per cent of premises by the end of 2015. The County Council and DCMS will provide additional funding totalling 18.4 m to extend coverage to at least 95 per cent of premises by the end of 2017. BT has contributed a further 3.8m towards the cost of installing the new infrastructure.

 Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: “The roll-out of superfast broadband is fully on-track and I expect at least 95 percent of homes and businesses in Hampshire to be able to access these services by 2017. Coupled with the recent announcement that Hampshire secured 1.2m to explore innovative solutions to take superfast broadband to some of the more remote and hardest to reach places in the county, we hope to see these services being available to even more of Hampshire’s residents.

"Superfast broadband is increasingly important if local households and businesses are to make the most of the huge range of opportunities offered by the internet, whether they are seeking to start a new business, find new customers, undertake on-line training or simply wish to browse for entertainment or leisure purposes.”

Peter Cowen, BT’s regional partnership director for the South East, said: “Today’s announcement is another important milestone for a partnership which is making real progress. Working with our partners, we are able to bring this game-changing technology to locations where the economics and engineering challenges are that much greater. High- speed fibre broadband is increasingly important if local households and businesses are to make the most of the huge range of opportunities and reap the benefits offered by the internet, whether they are seeking to start a new business, find new customers, undertake on-line training or simply wish to browse for entertainment or leisure purposes.”

The new network is open to all broadband service providers on an equal basis, ensuring competitive pricing and products for local households and businesses.

The technology will boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up a host of new learning and development opportunities for households.

People using superfast broadband are able to use multiple bandwidth- hungry applications at the same time and send and receive large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently. New fibre broadband services are set to transform the way households use the internet, from the simple sharing of pictures and video and on-line training and research to enjoying the growing boom in entertainment services available on- line.

For local businesses, superfast broadband will underpin the introduction of many new services and applications. Big business applications driven by new ‘cloud’ services will be within the reach of enterprises of all sizes. Computer backup, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high-quality videoconferencing will become viable. -

See more at: http://www.hampshiresuperfastbroadband.com/news 

Wrap Rage - March 2014

One of the curses of our shopping experience is the difficult to open packaging on most of the products we buy. Everything seems to be wrapped in impenetrable plastic which means you have to resort to hacking your way through it with a knife, risking serious injury and possibly damaging the item inside that it is supposed to be protecting. CDs are often sold wrapped in a plastic film which is supposed to have a little toggle that you pull to open it up but I've never found it and I usually resort to using scissors or a knife which can damage the case. Those little milk containers they give you with your cup of coffee have a sealed top with a little toggle that you pull to open and I either break the toggle which means I have to resort to stabbing it with a fork or I pull it so hard I spill the contents all over the table. Why do they wrap apples in plastic when they come with their own washable skin?  I wish someone would invent a bottle seal that I can easily open. I also struggle to open a pot of jam or pickles, do they think we are all super strong? I struggle for ages to open them. In a survey for "The Grocer" magazine 80 per cent of people had cut open packaging with scissors in frustration, 74 per cent had used a knife and 47 per cent had used their teeth. The magazine has called for action over the problem which hits older shoppers the most. 

Windows XP support is ending..

Microsoft is to end support for Windows XP in April and there will be no fixes or updates available after 8th April, This will leave millions of users vulnerable to security threats. They have made it clear that there will be no further security updates, hotfixes, free or paid for support or technical content updates. This includes the XP edition of its security essentials software. Individual companies may continue to provide support for their software but they will eventually set their own deadlines and begin to end support. If you, like me have a computer using XP then you have to make a decision whether to take a chance and continue with XP, buy a new computer or look at the possibility of upgrading your PC to Windows 7 or 8.

Unfortunately your computer may not meet the requirements.  XP will still work and you should be able to find anti virus software for a while yet but it will be risky and you should make sure all your files are transferred to a safe storage. Around one in three computers around the world still run Windows XP so there could be a lot of computers being dumped, many of them like mine still in good working order. I remember when flat screens replaced the old CRT Cathode Ray Tube TVs and computer screens a few years ago and everyone wanted to replace their old computers and TVs with posh LCD models, it looks as though it will happen again and many working models will be destined for the scrap yard. The recyclers will be busy. I have three working computers using XP and I will keep them working for as long as possible.

Queuing on the phone - October 2013

 I've always hated queuing, whether it be in the checkouts or for a bus but there is nothing more irritating than waiting in a queue on a phone for someone to answer. A computerised voice gives me options to press 1 for this or 2 for that and so on and then it tells me to press 9 if I want to hear all these messages again. Non of the options seem to be suitable for me so I wait. Then I'm told that they are experiencing a high volume of calls and a woman's voice pleads with me not to hang up as my call is important to them. The next message tells me that I am in a queue and all the calls will be answered in strict rotation. I wonder why I always seem to make my calls when they are experiencing high volumes of calls or perhaps they know that its me calling them to have a moan. They repeat all this again while playing a soothing piece of music down the phone line. I then cut myself off trying to find out how long I'd been waiting. I'm not sure if the music being played was doing its job by soothing me or whether I prefer the old fashioned "ring ring" tone. I re-dialled the number and went through all this again and eventually got through to a real person. The guy on the other end was helpful for a change and seemed to know what he was talking about, then he asked me to wait while he looked for my details and that was that, he never returned and the line went dead. I sat there deflated wondering whether to go through all that again and how much that wasted call had cost me. So much for them telling me that my call was important to them. Perhaps it was time for his tea break. A week later I had an e-mail asking me to answer some questions about my call experience. Perhaps I should tell them that they need to have a lot more tunes to play to their callers if they are going to continue to take so long to answer their phones. 

Mobile Phones-Is your data safe? - May 2013

The mobile phone has now become a mini computer. We use it to do much of our day to day business including banking and paying our bills and all this personal information is stored on our phone. When we upgrade our phones, we are invited to send our old phones for recycling but is this safe, how can we be sure that we have removed all this personal information from our phone before it gets into the wrong hands? As well as this many phones are mislaid and never seen again and as identity theft is big business these days, should we be concerned? Many phones have a "restore to factory defaults"  option but will this remove all our data? it has been proved that this does not always work completely. Apps are available to wipe the device clean if they are lost or stolen but this technology is still relatively new and these apps still leave some data behind. Deleting everything manually is another option but if it has flash memory you may only be deleting the links and the information could remain in the phone. Also, if you lose your power supply or it has broken down you can't delete anything unless you can somehow start it again. If you don't intend to use the phone again the best option seems to be to physically destroy it. In most situations that would probably be sufficient as it would take a fairly good snooper to find the data and if they get a lot of phones there will be easier targets to spend their time on, however if you plan to recycle your phone try to find out if the company remove data from them before selling on although that would be difficult to prove. Removing personal data from home computers kept at home is relatively easy and the real problems lie with mobile devices. If you do intend to recycle your phone after you have finished with it be careful with the personal data you put on it and use your home computer,  if not you may have to find a large hammer and smash it to pieces!

Have a Chuckle - October 2012

Another one of those polls arrived into my in tray recently and according to their research we are not laughing as much as we used to back in the 1950s even though we now enjoy a better standard of living. According to their study we used to chuckle about 18 minutes a day but now we only manage to chuckle for 6 minutes. They also found that British adults laugh on average only 7.2 times a day when experts claim that we should be laughing twice as much before we can claim to be a joyful and happy person. Apparently pre school children laugh about 350 times a day yet when I was young every time I laughed my mum thought I had wind because I had the same expression on my face. I'm puzzled how they find out all this information but according to researchers adults living in Norwich, Brighton and Glasgow laugh the least while adults in Leeds are real chucklers. Two-thirds of people polled admitted that they were desperate to have more joy in their lives but things like money problems, weather, work and family commitments made it difficult. According to mental health expert Anjula Mutanda we should be laughing a lot more than we are and if we are happy and joyful it would bring us a lot of benefits. The poll was carried out by website jackpotjoy.com. I'm off to Leeds for a good chuckle, my wife will be overjoyed!

What's an App? - June 2012

The term "app" is short for "application" which refers to a piece of software that works on a computer or a Mobile phone and produces a link which sits on the desktop. One click from your mouse or tap of your finger opens up a program that sometimes can be very useful and sometimes completely useless. The term has become part of our vocabulary since the I Phone made it famous but its nothing new though as they were around long before the I Phone was invented but it was the I Phone that made it "trendy." There are all kinds of apps around now, currency converters, mini browsers, games, calculators, social networking, recorders, maps, or even an app to open up your favourite radio station. The parking app is an example of mobile phone technology at its very best but for every useful app there are 10 that are complete nonsense. In 2007, Apple launched an online store where you can buy all sorts of these mobile phone applications specifically designed to run on the I Phone. They glossed it up a bit by referring to them as "apps" and the rest is history. Applications have been in everyday use on our computers for years but now when people talk about apps then most of the time they are referring to small programs specifically made for mobile phones. There are now lots of "App" stores that sell them and some are offered free. Make sure you use the correct apps for your type of phone though.

TV Confusion - February 2012

The pace of change for televisions today is getting ridiculous. Back in the distant past I had a one channel set, two channels, ITV and BBC were available at the time but I kept fiddling with the channel change switch and it fell off leaving me with just the one channel. Then along came colour, 625 lines, teletext, Satellite, Digital, larger screens, 24 inch, 28 inch, 32 inch and even larger, Plasma and LCD and rear projection TVs. Now we have a TV with Freeview built in and in the future Internet and connections for computers and a USB socket. Oh, and 3D TV and soon even higher definition TV. Visit your TV showroom and you will find a bewildering display of TVs of every type but no sooner do I buy a new set and its time to buy another one. In the old days you put the old set in the spare room or sold it but I now have more TVs in my house than I will ever need and no one wants to buy my old sets now, in fact I can't even give them away. So its no wonder why all our council tips are filling up with so much unwanted rubbish. I still wonder what happened to all those cathode ray tube sets and computer screens that were dumped when everyone wanted a posh new LCD screen, some of them were still in good working order. If you are one of these people that can't tell the difference between a SCART or HDMI socket or can't decide if you need Freesat or Freeview or plasma or LCD then you are not alone, there are many others that are finding it difficult to keep up with all the changes. If your TV picture has disappeared recently then don't dump your old set because it is possible that all you will need is a little box to convert your set to receive all the new digital channels and they are available reasonably priced from all the main stores. Your next problem is to choose what channel out of the hundreds available to watch. At least we don't have to worry about the channel change switch falling off, but hang on, we have a remote control now and there we have more problems and I will have more on that later..

Hoarders - May 2011

I've always wondered why we leave our treasured cars worth many thousands of pounds outside on the road all night while we fill up our garages with junk and lock them up. Most of us hate to part with anything and according to website, Netcycler who surveyed 2000 adults, most of us keep items because we don't know what to do with them. I've got a collection of old mobile phones that I should send for recycling but I just can't get round to doing it, they bring back so many memories. What do you do with all those old vinyl records, tapes and CDs? I've go them stacked away somewhere but I'll never play them again and how many people still have a teasmaid or one of those fondue sets that were so popular many years ago. There are lots of recycling site springing up on the internet now that give you the opportunity to "give away" your old junk to someone that can make use of it, many of the sites are local and typing http://www.freecycle.org  into your browser will take you to a UK site where you can search for your town. So what am I waiting for??? I've got a cheese plant, remember them? its now reached the ceiling, but its been with us for 25 years and it become part of the family! I hope it gets a good home.

Health Fears - January 2011

My wife keeps telling me that I eat too much, especially between meals, she cooks me a meal and then when I finish eating I head for the refrigerator for a snack. Apparently my wife's concern is normal as there are many wives and girlfriends who worry about the health of their partners. Their main concern is stress at work where their partners work long hours under too much pressure and sometimes take work home because they can't complete it. They also worry that their partners don't take enough exercise, eat too much fatty food and don't get enough sleep. Engage Mutual who commissioned the study said that women had many concerns about their partners lifestyle and pressure at work was seen as the biggest issue. Some women hadn't mentioned their worries to their partners but had started buying healthier food and subtly changed their partners lifestyles without telling them. So if your wife has booked you into a gym or a sporting activity for a present or cleared all the junk food from the house then be grateful to her as she is worried about your health, enjoy your healthy exercise and don't become a couch potato.

Getting Lost - August 2010

Have you ever been completely lost? It first happened to me when I was a young child. I suddenly found myself all alone with lots of people around but my mum had gone. It didn't take long for her to find me but it was very frightening while it lasted. I once got lost walking around Venice, every corner and bridge looked the same and to make it worse there was a coach waiting for me and I thought I was going to miss it. Motorists regularly get lost, in fact men spend the equivalent of a journey from London to Newcastle driving around lost every year. That's a lot of petrol to waste. The under 25s get lost more often than the over 55s even though they are more likely to carry a sat-nav. The last time I got lost was when I was diverted off the Motorway as it was closed due to an accident. I had no idea where I was going and as there was nowhere to park to get a map out. I played "follow the leader" down country lanes until I found myself alone and realised that I had followed the wrong "leader". Its funny how everyone seems to disappear when you want to find someone to ask directions. Some people are too stubborn to ask for help and many drive around for half an hour before asking someone for directions. Several years ago a driver drove round and round London on the M25, not realising that he was going round in circles and going nowhere, I bet that happens a lot. There was also a guy who supported a northern football team who were playing Gillingham in Kent and he ended up heading for Gillingham in Dorset many miles from where he was supposed to be and when he arrived at the correct destination he had missed most of the game. Are you good at finding your way around or do you rely on a passenger to give directions? Have you ever missed your exit on the Motorway and driven on for miles to the next? Men have the best sense of direction while women are more happy to ask the way. Thanks to motor insurer Sheila's Wheels for the figures.

Slow service - June 2010

So you go out to a restaurant for a meal and the service is slow. What do you do? Wait patiently or complain. A guy sat down and ordered his meal. He waited over an hour for service and all the time he could see takeaways being shipped out to customers at home. He got a bit peeved with that and used his mobile to ring the restaurant, making out he was at home he asked how long it would take for a takeaway to be delivered. He was told 45 minutes for up to five miles. "So why have I been waiting for over an hour for my meal to be delivered at my table in your restaurant when you can deliver a takeaway five miles away to my home in 45 minutes?" Perhaps he should have ordered a takeaway on his phone and asked for it to be delivered to his table in the restaurant as it would probably have been delivered a lot quicker. Did you know that 60 per cent of meals eaten in Britain are of overseas origin? Chinese Italian, French and American food is more likely to be your choice while Mexican, Greek, Turkish and Thai food gives us the most cosmopolitan choice of foods on earth. Now what happened to Peas pudding and faggots?

Disappearing Pubs - May 2010

When I was a young lad my parents enjoyed visiting the countryside and we usually ended up in a lovely country pub for a drink and I always had a packet of cheeselets as a treat. They had smokeless children's rooms where I could eat my cheeselets and drink my lemonade or in the summer we could sit in the gardens. I never saw anyone drunk, in fact there was a lovely family atmosphere in them. Now many of these old pubs are closing and are becoming an eyesore. Some are being converted into houses and restaurants as It seems that no one uses pubs any more. These pubs were a meeting place where friendships were made and some of the rooms were used for various clubs to hold their meetings or sports events. I've played Table Tennis, darts, bar billiards, Skittles and Bat and Trap and these sports are disappearing as the pubs close. People will soon be buying all their booze in Supermarkets and drinking it at home while they watch the television. I wonder what people will do in the future when pubs become a thing of the past? Perhaps someone will have a bright idea to open a few pubs again.

Netwalking

A new danger emerging on our roads is called netwalking. Its when a person is out walking with their mobile phones in front of their faces writing test messages, e-mailing and surfing the internet. It's becoming a big hazard to motorists because these people even cross the road while looking at websites, watching films and TV shows on their mobile phones and some have even been studying social network sites while negotiating traffic. Researchers who called the new trend "netwalking" said that careless netwalkers were putting themselves and others in danger. According to the study as many as 15 per cent of Britons have already been hit or had a near miss on the roads while using their phones. Many people said that they used their mobiles without realising it while they crossed a road because it had become a habit while many more claimed arrogantly that they were capable of doing two things at once. Mike Pickard, at Esure car insurance said, "Mobile technology has revolutionised the way we communicate but it can have a detrimental impact on our day to day lives". Advice to pedestrians is to leave their mobiles in their pockets or bags and concentrate on what they are doing especially on busy highways.

High Call out Charges

Call out charges made by some large companies can be very high and the prospect of being charged 100 plus can be a bit frightening for some people. Many firms will charge a large fee to inspect a problem with new equipment they have fitted into your home and if the engineer decides that it was caused by your neglect. they will make a charge. Normally you will not know if it is your fault until they arrive and then it is too late. Recently I rang my Mother in Law who is now in her 80s, there were lots of loud crackles on the line and she told me that it was like that every time the wind blew. We were eventually cut off completely and a BT robot voice told me that the other person had put the phone down. When we were reconnected she was still talking and had no idea that I hadn't heard what she had been saying and was not pleased when I had to ask her to repeat everything. She thought I had been ignoring her. She told me that the telephone had been like that for weeks and it was going to cost 127 to call out a BT engineer. I rang BT and the lady did a line test and told me that they couldn't find a fault but then said that doesn't mean that there is no fault. I told her that there was definitely a problem and they need to send an engineer and she said that if they send an engineer to her house and it was due to faulty equipment within her home there would be a charge of 127. Now that is a lot of money for an 80 year old to pay out. Luckily when the engineer arrived it only took a few minutes for him to decide that the fault was due to a tree that had been planted alongside the telephone pole. Now every time we have high winds the engineer has to reconnect the line in the tree for her but no one will cut the tree down. I wonder what would have happened if she had not wanted to risk losing 127 and she needed the phone in an emergency, BT and other firms should realise that if they are going to make these hefty call out charges they should allow for an honest mistake.

Personal Grooming

I have a lot of surveys sent to me but the one that came in recently was one of the most surprising that I have ever received. It claims that men are now taking longer than women to do their personal grooming. Simon Comins, Superdrug’s director of toiletries, which conducted the poll of 3,000 people, said: “Once upon a time it was cool for men to appear rough and ready, looking like they hadn’t spend more than a couple of minutes getting ready “But these days, everyone appreciates a man who takes care of his appearance, smells nice and looks like he has made an effort. in a morning". The study shows that men dedicate an average of 83 minutes a day to their personal grooming which includes cleansing, toning and moisturising, shaving, styling hair and choosing clothes. This is four minutes longer than it takes a woman. He also spends 23 minutes in the shower every morning and 18 minutes shaving. Choosing an outfit is also a timely operation for blokes who want to look their best – taking 13 minutes compared to 10 minutes for women. Apparently the ladies now appreciate a man who takes care of his appearance and smells nice. In the past rugged men such as Liam Gallagher, Brad Pitt and Russell Crowe were favoured but now the David Beckham, and Cristiano Renaldo look is what pleases the ladies. I am very much in favour of seeing men looking smarter but not so sure about 23 minute showers. Will they get to work on time? It would be nice if we return to the days when men travelled in smart clothes instead of trainers and casuals but I am still not convinced that men will ever take longer than a lady to do their grooming. If I spend 23 minutes in the shower my wife will not be pleased especially if I spend a further 18 minutes shaving.

Television

Figures were released recently by the TV Licensing Authority to mark the 40th anniversary of the start of colour television and they revealed that there are still 28,000 households in the UK using old black and white TVs. Colour programs started officially on November 15th 1969 with a Petula Clark concert broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall in London, although there had been test transmissions for a while. Soon, Dixon of Dock Green, the Harry Secombe Show and Match of the Day were broadcast in Colour. By the end of 1969, 200,000 colour TV sets were in use across the UK. and in 1976 colour sets began to outnumber black and white. There have been many milestones of television over the years, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1952 caused a boom in the sale of TVs and the people that had bought a television invited their neighbours in to their houses to watch it with them. The start of commercial TV in 1955 saw the introduction of advertising, the first Satellite broadcast across the Atlantic in 1962, the start of BBC2 in 1964 when there was a power cut in the studio ruining most of the first nights programs and the introduction of video cassette recorders in 1974. It was a few years before they were mass marketed and then video rental shops opened up on almost every high street renting the latest horror movie. The majority of them have closed now. In 1982 Channel 4 was launched and soon after in 1983 breakfast TV started. Back in the early days of TV, daytime programs were very limited, Listen with Mother and a housewife's program were just about the only offering from the BBC. Some people actually watched the test card and listened to the music that came with it. Gradually the daytime hours were increased, mainly with sport at first. Yes, we could watch sport and the test card during the day but very little else. Eventually the start of breakfast TV completed the full day and at last we could watch TV in bed in the mornings. Sky was launched in 1989 with the start of multi channel viewing and Channel 5 in 1997 became the last terrestrial channel when many of us had to have our sets adjusted because the channel used the same frequency as our video recorders. Now we have the start of High Definition services and the big analogue turn off has started as we go all digital. Do you remember your first colour TV set? or you are one of the few people still watching in black and white please let me know. I would love to know if you manage to get your black and white TV repaired when it breaks down. Tell me your memories and send your pictures to-. rolandbeaney@tiscali.co.uk

Spam

To most people Spam is a message that we receive mostly by e-mail that tries to trick us into giving out our banking details and some offer us goods of a doubtful standard that we should never buy. Many people don't realise that Spam is a food that has been in production since 1937and amazingly it is still being sold widely today. Making its debut in 1937, what is believed to be the first singing commercial advertising it came out in 1940. More than 100 million pounds of Spam was shipped out to feed allied troops in the war and many people actually ate it for their Christmas dinners. In 1959 the one billionth can of Spam was produced and in 1970 the 2 billionth can was produced when Monty Python's Flying Circus made that famous TV sketch. Since then different varieties have been introduced, with cheese, oven roasted turkey and hot and spicy, garlic and golden honey versions and even Spam burgers. In recent years less fat and less salt varieties have been introduced proving that we are caring for our health but now we have Spam Hot Dogs. Amazingly 7 billion cans of Spam have now been sold. Who would have thought that a product that was produced to feed the poor many years ago would be adapted with modern recipes, to feed the hungry today. So when you delete your next Spam message on your computer, remember that the real Spam is still available to buy in the shops and nothing to do with the messages that we get on our computers. Do you still eat Spam? Please let me know by sending to rolandbeaney@tiscali.co.uk