Club La Costa – Take 2 August 21st, 2011
It seems only yesterday (almost 2 years in reality) that I wrote an article detailing my experiences with Club La Costa, the company who ring you up to tell you that you have ‘won’ a free holiday for 4. Of course, this is clearly not true and in order to claim your prize you need to attend a rather long timeshare presentation here in the UK and then pay a number of surcharges towards your supposed prize. Before you know it, the holiday that you ‘won’ costs you more than a last minute deal you could have picked up yourself and the relaxation you’d have hoped for and promised, overshadowed by the constant sales pitches. I know I am not alone in feeling frustrations towards this kind of misleading marketing and hard selling thanks to all of your comments; they were appreciated.
Well, I was amazed to receive yet another cold call yesterday, again stemming from one of the call centres commissioned by CLC. Now I know that since my last call, I have not given my details to any market research companies and most certainly have not entered any competitions so unquestionably my details have been recycled since they first made contact with me.
Club la Costa, if you’re reading this then please, get the hint. I will NOT be buying into any of your timeshare deals so my advice would be to save yourself the cost of the phone call don’t call me again.
The Red Arrows August 21st, 2011
Like most, I was saddened yesterday to hear the reports of one the Red Arrows tragically crashing and it’s pilot, Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging loosing his life at the annual Bournemouth Air Festival.
I think it’s important before I start diversifying to pay a personal tribute to the pilot, whilst the details are still vague the general consensus is that he stayed with his aircraft to the point of no return to ensure that his aircraft did not crash into a populated area killing others; he must have known that in doing so the outcome personally was not going to be a good one, it’s split second selfless decisions like this that define true heroism. Much respect Jon.
No doubt at one stage or another in our lives we have all seen the Red Arrows display whether in personal or on the television and there can be no doubt, they are without question one of the finest aerial display teams on the planet. The pilots flying skills are a testament not only to themselves but to the world class training received by our armed forces. It’s easy to forget that the pilots serving in the Red Arrows are front line fast jet RAF pilots first and foremost plying their trade with a smile of their faces.
However, given the state of the UK economy and our military activities overseas, especially considering the recent Defence Spending Review, I do have to question the place the Red Arrows have in the RAF; I want to stress though that my feelings are not aimed at the pilots, the crew or anyone associated directly with the team but with the system of decision making at a very high level.
Having a quick glance over the official website the Red Arrows have at their disposal a team of highly skilled and qualified personnel, a fleet of modern fast jet aircraft and a large support mechanism; it’s not just this that factors into my thoughts though, for every resource given to the Red Arrows, there is a resource denied or taken away from the front line, remember the pilots of the Red Arrows are active front line RAF pilots and whilst they are serving with the Red Arrows, they are away from the front line. I’ve never been in the forces myself but I’m sure if I had of been, I’d have appreciated a few extra aircraft overheard watching my back.
At any given time, the team have the following (not a comprehensive list by any means) at their disposal:
- 9 highly trained, exceptional fast jet pilots.
- 9 experienced aircraft engineers, each working on a specific aircraft alongside it’s pilot.
- A large engineering team and engineering support team.
- Management and base staff, including the base itself of course.
- Public relations team.
On top of this they also have a fleet of BAE Systems Hawk T1 aircraft, including the 9 actual display aircraft I believe this totals 13 aircraft in all.
I haven’t taken the time to look into how much this all costs in any detail and how much we as tax payers contribute to this but let’s be realistic, it’s not cheap. According to the Red Arrows official website we do not contribute to foreign displays as this cost is met in the most part by sponsors such as BAE, but of course as I mentioned above this is only part of the story; we are still taking front line pilots away from protecting our troops currently serving in dangerous situations, Afghanistan for example. The material cost of the team is only half the story.
“The benefits of the Red Arrows far outweigh the cost, promoting British interests and acting as an international ambassador for British industry. Further information relating to budgets should be directed to Royal Air Force 22 Group.
The Ministry of Defence considers that British tax payers should not bear the cost of overseas tours. The Red Arrows overseas tours, representing and demonstrating the very best of British excellence, are largely met by sponsors.”
The above is a quote from the FAQ section of the official website, the very fact that they feel the need to mention this tells me that a lot of people must be questioning the costs, especially the cost to us, the British taxpayer. It’s not what is said that I find the most interesting, it’s what’s not said. Clearly the powers that be do not want to publicise how much money it costs to run the team. A little bit of research on Google turned up this freedom of information act request from the beginning of last year which helps to fill in the blanks a little.
I’m certainly not against the Red Arrows, I have seen them on a number of occasions and there is no question they are an awe inspiring sight; but the glory days are gone, it’s time to face hard realities and I wonder if the public purse should be continuing to fund them in their current capacity. At the very least, why not return the pilots and engineers to front line duties during times of conflict and allow the team to take a break. I’m not against us displaying what a great nation we are but I don’t think we are in a position to do this as a matter of course any more. I think questions need to be asked.
I think it’s only right to end this post in a similar way to how it started. The Red Arrows only recruit pilots who have proved themselves on the front line, all Red Arrow pilots have seen active duty and have put themselves in harms way to preserve our way of life. The pilot in yesterdays tragic accident was no exception, seeing action in Afghanistan piloting a Harrier GR9 prior to joining the team and it’s for that I feel he should be remembered along with all the other servicemen and women who have lost their lives in conflicts to date.
My condolences go out to his family and friends.
Restoring Music From Your iPod to iTunes August 18th, 2011
I guess it was only a matter of time before I did something stupid.
I’m always advocating the need to take regular backups and ensure that you keep a copy of all of your important data; in fairness, I usually do and I did it’s just that I forgot to include my iTunes library in my backup routine. My only saving grace is that I still have all my music on my iPod.
Apple in all of their wisdom has made it surprising difficult to copy data from your iPod into your iTunes library from within iTunes itself, or rather they have made it impossible. You’d have thought that this would make perfect sense in terms of a feature but alas, no.
All is not lost however, there is of course a way to simply restore your music back into your library from iTunes, just follow this simple guide.
Caveat: I have used a machine that currently does not have iTunes installed to produce this guide; the recovered data was then placed onto an external hard drive before restoring to my main machine with iTunes installed. I did it this way to ensure that iTunes did not auto sync with my iPod when it was connected and wipe any data, I was just being cautious. You can of course follow the steps in this guide on the same machine as you currently have your iTunes on, but, you must ensure that iTunes does not automatically sync initially or you face the possibility of overwriting all of your music with nothing.
Notes: I have used a Windows 7 based machine to initially connect my iPod and backup the data (my iPod was originally formatted and used with a Windows machine). Then, my new main machine which contains my iTunes is a MacBook Pro; if your iTunes is on a Windows based machine some of the following steps will be slightly different i.e. you will not be able to use the OS X specific keyboard shortcuts and will need to find the options using the menus within iTunes itself, other than that the process is identical.
Firstly, on my windows machine:
- Connect your iPod to your computer using the sync cable.
- Navigate to My Computer; you should see your iPod connected as an external drive, double click on the icon.
- Next you need to un-hide hidden folders; Click on Organize followed by Folder and search items. Click the View tab and check the option to Show hidden files, folder, and drives.
- Click OK to return to the explorer window.
- You should now see a folder called iPod_Control, double click this.
- Copy the entire folder called Music to a backup location of your choice; in my case I copied this to an external drive.
- You can now disconnect your iPod.
Secondly, on my Mac:
- Load iTunes from the dock and navigate to iTunes preferences by pressing ⌘, and clicking on the Advanced tab.
- Check both options to Keep iTunes Media folder organized and Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library.
- Finally you need to import the music in the backup folder into your library, to do this press ⌘o and navigate to the folder containing the backup up data and click Choose.
Once you have done that, iTunes should automatically sort out the files for you and copy them back into your iTunes library.