Breaking news – Kate Middleton has morning sickness…..

The UK as a rule is very quick to jump on a “welfare state” bandwagon when the public feels someone is getting an easy ride.  Thankfully I’ve never needed welfare/benefits at any point in my life, but I fully support the facility to be there for those in need.  The press make a very good job of demonizing those on benefits and whilst there are a minority of cases where there has been abuse/fraud of the system, the vast majority of people don’t get the “easy life” that is promoted in the press and certainly are not in that position by choice.  Talking of the easy life though, there’s one family who every tax payer in the UK already pay a lot of money for.  There’s one family who not only get the best in life – an almost private health care service from the NHS, get driven around, have their own security and will never want for anything in their lives.  Who? The Royal Family of course.

Now lets just stop any difference of opinion right now.  You think the Royal Family earn their keep with tourism et al? Check out the costs to look after the Royal Family (and its extended family) for one month.  If the Royal Family pays for itself (allegedly) why not privatise them? Let them fund themselves, after-all if they make so much money for the UK it should be easy.  Thats the best of both worlds, the UK keeps its Monarchy without the burden to the tax-payer.

I digress, the news I’m commenting on today is the impending new arrival of Kate and William.  One could almost be forgiven that morning sickness in pregnant ladies didn’t exist before Kate had it.  And maybe it doesn’t? Maybe out of all the pregnant ladies around the world feeling sick in the morning are mere pretenders to the one true case of morning sickness in Kate – afterall she is getting Doctors to her home.  I remember back to when my wife had morning sickness, she was told to get on with it.  She certainly didn’t have a doctor “treating” her at our home.  But then as I say, maybe Kate has the only “real” case on the planet.

I wonder, do you think you would get the same service from the NHS should you find yourself in a similar situation? No. I wouldn’t think so.  Maybe your sickness is not really morning sickness as Kate has the only real case, or maybe its just you are not as “important”?

The new addition to the Royal Family is not just another mouth for the tax-payer to feed, it will be the beginning of a further extension to the families demands for money.  Consider that if the child gets married, we now have an obligation to another family for protection, further swelling the size of the financial burden.  How far out does the tax-payers “duty of care” stretch with the Royal Family? I’d say very far and its tentacles will reach far and wide into the pocket of those in the UK especially when you consider the “special arrangements” for members of its extended family.

So please, don’t expect me to be “over the moon” with the announcement of more cost to tax-payers and please if you are a Royal supporter, don’t dare comment negatively about those on benefits – you are happy to fund the mammoth cost of the Royal Family.

Personally, I think people needing help from state benefits are far more deserving of my money than a Royal Family.

Microsoft mines for gold with Mojang

News has been announced that Microsoft is buying Mojang.

For those that don’t know, Mojang is behind the incredibly successful Minecraft game which is available on just about every platform.  Its spawned a massive line of franchise, including toys and there’s no doubt that the simple premise in the game which is akin to digital lego is a massive hit with consumers.

"Mojang and Microsoft sitting in a tree...." - Will the purchase of Mojang by Microsoft end happily?
“Mojang and Microsoft sitting in a tree….” – Will the purchase of Mojang by Microsoft end happily?

Regardless of your views on Microsoft, this probably has to be one of the best decisions its made.  There is a massive amount of mileage still left in Minecraft and having managed to tap into its customers creative side, the life of the game and its associated wares is exponentially increased.

So whilst we all probably agree that it is a good move for Microsoft, the question that arises out of this from many on the net is “where will this leave the PlayStation versions?”

There seems to be a belief by some that Microsoft will stop updates et al on the PlayStation and competing devices in order to further the Xbox title and so make the console more desirable.  I’d say this is wrong.  If we were talking about Microsoft of yesteryear then I think there would have been a possibility, but today Microsoft does not have the same hold over the consumer.  Let me cite some examples:

When Microsoft purchased Skype, they could have cut support for Linux completely. They didn’t.  When Microsoft had Halo franchise on the Xbox did that prevent PS3 sales (and now PS4) overtaking their consoles? No.

Consumers these days have transient loyalties in technology.  If they didn’t then the WII sales would have ensured people jumped on the WIIU.  The PlayStation wouldn’t have floored the N64 all those years ago and the Megadrive would have ensured a top selling Dreamcast.  No.  Today Microsoft can’t exercise its remaining power in the same way and after making the massive purchase of Mojang, its going to want to reap as much reward out of it as possible.  If you look to the PC version, its not a Windows title per say, its Java code, so you can run it on pretty much any modern device.

Of course there will be some who will suggest this purchase is bad.  But for me, as Minecraft was never an open source title in the first-place, I don’t see the issue with Microsoft holding the strings instead of any other proprietary firm.  My opinions on FOSS and proprietary in gaming remain unchanged.

The move though does say much for Microsoft.  Yet again we are seeing Microsoft taking on the success of others rather than its own innovation – its just lucky that Microsoft was able to dominate the market years ago and have a war-chest of cash in order to make these types of purchases.

When “the best” is not always “the best”

“You get what you pay for.”,  “Buy the best you can afford”, “False economy” – All pieces of advice when buying technology, under the view that if you buy the best you get the best results.  This is not always true and I found this out myself.

My wife was going shopping and I had decided that now was the time I should get myself a new digital camera.  Quality in camera, I’m told, is important for taking perfect shots.  She knows about as much about camera’s as I do, but certainly knows that a cheap camera of unknown brand is not going to have the quality of say a Canon or Nikon or any of the others.  With that in mind though, she knows my photography past.

Years ago, I jumped on the tech bandwagon and purchased one of the early digital camera’s.  I think it was a 2mp Fuji.  Point and snap.  I had some limited success with my photography too, but what I did was to snap the photo “normally” then use PSP or similar to get some fancy effects.

So my wife returns from the shops and says the words that fill me with dread: “Your’e going to be pleased, I’ve got a really good deal, the man in the shop said it was the best camera they have”  My brain works overtime as I imagine a 4 digit number spining like a fruit machine before settling on a large sum.  There’s only one type of good deal available on the highstreet and its one where the vendor is the beneficiary.  And it was a good deal, if you are a professional photographer and have the first clue whats going on.  Maybe someone who snaps photo’s for celebrity magazines would think the price I paid was good.  I, do not.  I’ve owned cars when I was young that cost less than this.

One of my shots from the other evening.  In my defence it was under artificial lighting and at the far end of its x30 optical zoom.
One of my shots from the other evening. In my defence it was under artificial lighting and at the far end of its x30 optical zoom.

But I have got the very best! where you may have a point and click camera, I have one who’s back is stuffed with so many buttons and dials that it resembles the cockpit of a space shuttle rather than a camera.  And can I use the damn thing? No.

“Helpfully” the instruction manual is a PDF document to download and adding insult to injury whilst it tells me how to do something with the camera, it gives me no clue as to what that feature is…..its all f-stops and ISO’s.  Why do I want to change the ISO when I don’t know what that means in photography terms in the first place?  Yes, I know there is Google, but I just want to take pictures, not engage in a full on photography course.

I feel like a farmyard chicken, who instead of being built a wire fence to protect him from foxes, has been given a semi-automatic rifle by the farmer and told (in chicken talk) to “get on with it”.

So I switch it onto auto mode and it sort of works, although I am sure I took better pictures with my old camera….and it just goes to show you, you don’t always get what you pay for.  I’m thinking that the unbranded £30 digital camera would probably have been a more sound investment.