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Results tagged “internet” from Sunday Mercury - Paul Flower

Are you being served?

By Paul Flower on Apr 7, 11 02:36 PM

Cold calls are often quite random. Occasionally they provide temporary relief from staring at a screen or trying to solve a problem. Usually they're just dull, as the disinterested caller launches into the pre-prepared script with little thought or care for the recipient's level of interest. There are also those that start with the most ridiculous leading questions, like 'Would you like to save money on....' They get quite perturbed if you answer, 'no'.

Often I'm forced to laugh - which is probably neither big nor clever and it will either amuse the caller or send them into a fury as if I've insulted their very being instead of just mocking their script or style. This one caused some reciprocal laughter: What do you look for in an energy supplier? It's an interesting question that bears some consideration. What do I look for - charm, good sense of humour, style, panache?

Perhaps my only requirement is their ability to supply energy efficiently at a price that doesn't reduce me to tears. I suspect the latter may be too much to ask so perhaps I only need them to not call me randomly and ask stupid questions; that would be a bonus.

It's a small world, particularly the world of internet virals.

In response to the many who thought that Merton (last post) was in fact Ben Folds, the real Ben Folds took the idea on-stage. It remains to be seen if there's life in this stunt now, until Merton returns of course.

chatroulette superstars

By Paul Flower on Mar 19, 10 09:11 AM

The web will make exhibitionists of us all, eventually. Already it appears to make us commune with people we rarely see or have never met.

Some of the developments escape the geek, freak and teen communities and explode into the mainstream. Twitter was the last of these for me, personally, and - accepting that I've probably missed a few - chatroulette appears to be the next.

As a quick guide for those who have yet to see it - the site links people with webcams to random strangers for brief-chats or whatever you want to get up to, it is webchatting for the 21st century. This explains it better than I can:

chat roulette from Casey Neistat on Vimeo.


Ignoring the fact that Casey can't pronounce data, the first spin of the chatroulette wheel finds the obvious default position of all net-projects - porn. This said there are some people who are destined to become superstars this way - Merton, the chatroulette pianist, may be the first.

The smart/hard balance

By Paul Flower on Feb 11, 09 01:39 PM

It's a popular myth; in the future we'll all work 'smarter'. I'm not entirely sure when the future is supposed to be (tomorrow, next wk, year, decade, century) and the intentional ambiguity just leads me to realise that for 'smarter' we can actually substitute the word 'harder'.

I was given cause to think about this by the 'shock/horror' statistics used last week when most of us had to take a day-off from commuting. Apparently our very absence from the workplace causes the economy to suffer to the tune of many millions. These statistics never seem very scientific to me, just some random multiplication of number of people absent by average financial output per person. The latter must be somewhat difficult, if not impossible, to calculate as we don't all work on production lines; only in this instance could you say an absence amounts to a specific number of things that remained unpacked or unscrewed, etc.

As successive Governments have destroyed our manufacturing industry I'd imagine that the bulk of us actually now work in clerical or 'service' industries. If we don't turn up at work then we probably have to find a way to complete that work either at home or by cramming it into the next working day. On that basis I fail to see how the money has been lost to the economy.

For years now I've had the capacity to do a vast quantity of my work from my home, possibly as much as 80% of the same functions I could perform from commuting to any office. The bits you miss out on from not being physically present are things like being able to read your bosses body language when he/she's bawling you out and to be present at interminably long meetings which resolve nothing. In theory you could do the former by video link and the latter by audio conference (whilst enjoying a nap) but this seems not to happen at my level.

Here comes the Boy

By Paul Flower on Dec 10, 08 12:41 PM

Boy George stuck a male escort in handcuffs, hit him with chains and left him shackled to the wall. Sounds like an average day in the life. Let's face it, if he really wanted to torture the guy, he'd just have locked him in a room with Culture Club's greatest hits on repeat: maybe just the two songs - 'War (is stupid)' and 'Karma Chameleon' on permanent playback.

Please forgive my flippancy, in his defence George alleged that the escort was 'hacking into his laptop'. At this point all of those who rely on computers in order to earn a crust instantly forgave him.

For us home-workers, contractors and freelancers the laptop or PC is our lifeline. This effectively puts hackers, spammers and virus-spreaders on our shit list, somewhere alongside the Inland Revenue, red-tape wielding bureaucrats and traffic wardens. Some things are a given.

In common with most of those who spend upwards of 8 hours in front of a screen (daytime TV viewing doesn't count), I have about five or six different e-mail accounts, three of which I use on a very regular basis. One of these is so bulging with old e-mail that I simultaneously desire and dread the free-time to be able to clean it out.

The last time I gave this some thought I berated myself with the detail - 1978 should only be a year, not the quantity of mail in your inbox. Unfortunately there's now more than two thousand e-mails in there awaiting that down-time between Xmas and New Year when I might finally get the chance to purge it.

I suspect that almost 80% of the 2k+ have some important information in them somewhere, or info that was important at that point in time. Obviously there may be some duplication as we all now fire e-mail back and forth like some pointless, drunken conversation, but I do know where the delete button is, honest.

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