Amazon Wish ListFor a while now I’ve been experimenting with a little karma boosting project based around Amazon’s Wish List service – and now I’d like to get more people involved.

The idea is both simple and more or less selfless, and revolves around a single core concept: getting things for free is awesome.  While I have no control over whether I get stuff for free – short of taking up shoplifting as a hobby, and even then the only freebie I get is likely to be a lift in a shiny police car – I can control whether other people receive free gifts.

So I do.  Every so often, I log on to Amazon and type a name into the Wish List search.  I scroll down the list and pick someone at random – before buying them an item that they’ve been wanting but never got around to buying.
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Today, I was wandering around Halifax during lunch.  Nothing particularly exciting about that – it’s pretty much a daily occurrence.

While out and about, I spotted an amusing sign of which I wanted to take a picture.  Again, nothing special – it’s something I do quite a lot.

Holland & Barrett - Bye Bye Plastic Bags signThis particular sign was located in the window of the Halifax Holland & Barrett store, and proclaimed that the store was a “plastic free zone” that proudly used no plastic bags.  This time, I wasn’t pulling it up on grammar – instead, it was the factuality of the sign that amused me.  You see, in the window alongside the “plastic free zone” sign were plastic bags.  Oodles of them.  In fact, the vast majority of products in the window were pre-packaged in either plastic bags or plastic pots.

Camera – well, cameraphone – in hand, I snapped the sign.  Moving to the front of the window, I prepared to take a shot of the plastic bags.

Then: the lone shop assistant – a girl in her early twenties – ran out and positioned herself in front of me shouting “You can’t take photos – it’s against copyright!

Let’s review: I’m stood on public property, causing no obstruction, quietly taking a photo of something visible from a public place where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, for non-commercial use.  Clearly, she’s off her rocker.

Holland & Barrett - plastic bags in the windowWhen I corrected her and continued to take the picture, she went inside and called the security guard on a two-way radio.  Quite what she thought he’d do – given I had at no point entered the store – I’m not sure, but it’s a moot point: apparently Halifax’s security guards were “out of town” and unavailable to attend.  After waiting for a friend to finish shopping in the store, I walked off to find some lunch.

Tomorrow, I’m going back with a group of people – including an ex-policeman – and we’re all taking photos of Holland & Barrett’s storefront.  We’re also taking photos of each other taking photos of Holland & Barrett’s storefront – and if any copyright ‘experts’ fancy telling us that we can’t exercise our rights on public property, it might be time to exercise the cheapo HD camcorder I bought a few months back.

Oh, and I think that the Advertising Standards Authority would be interested in the false claim regarding the plastic bags.

TL;DR: Don’t fuck with a photographer.  We’re more than aware of our rights.

Newegg Fake i7 packaging shotHere’s a little article originally written for bit-tech but never published, regarding the interesting case of Newegg accidentally sending a selection of fake Intel i7 CPUs to its customers.  Since this article was written, NewEgg has confessed that the CPUs in question were fakes, and has talked things over with the supplier responsible – in this case, the ‘talk’ being “we don’t work together any more.

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Apostrophe's in the wild 6It’s not often that a mere sign – even one displaying a frankly staggering ineptitude with the English language – leaves me speechless, but this particular example of apostrophe abuse came close.

Note the shotgun-like approach to grammar involved in this image, where every single S is preceded by an errant apostrophe – with the  exception of “brows” and “extensions,” which I can only assume were missed by mistake.

The sign may declare that “Beauty Matterz,” but I posit that grammar ‘matterz’ more.

Sainsbury's FailAnother day, another sad tale of apostrophe abuse.

It seems that the simple rule of “an apostrophe never pluralises” is too much for the shopkeepers of our great nation.  While we’re already aware of the horrendous abuse piled upon the innocent possessive apostrophe by Asda, we could perhaps forgive the Septic owners – Mall-Wart – for their crimes, being as they are somewhat backward in the linguistic stakes as a consequence of their birth nation.

Sadly, there can be no such excuse for Sainsbury’s – and how ironic it is that the company name is correctly formatted with a possessive apostrophe of its own.  If only it could have alerted its guardians as to their folly as they proceed to litter an aisle sign with not one, but two superfluous of its brethren.  For shame.

You know what it’s like…  You fancy something new and exciting to listen to, but don’t fancy lining the pockets of industry fat cats by shelling out for yet more cookie-cutter mass-produced pap.  While there are pretty snazzy online radio systems like Spotify out there, nothing quite beats having a DRM-free download to add to your collection.

Sure, there’s always the less legitimate method; but what if you could have a completely free download with no guilt and no midnight knocks from the copyright police?

With this thought in my mind, I Googled my little heart out and tracked down the rather neat Jamendo: a free MP3 download service that offers only Creative Commons licensed work.  With some 22,000 albums to pick from, it’s a veritable horn of plenty – and there’s some pretty awesome stuff on there.  I’m particularly fond of the French group Myl-n So.

It’s all DRM free MP3, completely legal, and you don’t even have to sign up.  Neat-o!

Don’t say I never give you anything, wretches.

Apostrophe's in the wild 4: Asda LivingThose poor apostrophes keep getting abused – left out in the cold in places they have no right being.

Take, for example, this woeful tale of a poor innocent apostrophe who found himself sandwiched between “DVD” and “s” at the Asda Living store in Forster Square, Bradford.

Clearly there was some twisted logic in the minds of his tormentors: after all, you use an apostrophe to indicate missing letters, right?  The ultimate D in DVD stands for “Disc”, which means there are missing letters – ergo an apostrophe is required, right?

Sadly for our poor, misused apostrophe: wrong.  An apostrophe, as I’m sure you are aware, never pluralises.  Remember: no means no.

Apostrophe Abuse 3: WickesJust a quick update to reassure people that not only am I not dead, I still haven’t given up on a life of pedantry.

The latest entry in the Hall of Apostrophe Abuse comes courtesy of Wickes in Bradford, which managed to forbid a trolley from taking something past the nicely laminated sign – although I’m at a loss as to what.  Presumably a trolley bereft of belongings is welcome to proceed as far as it cares.

Hopefully I’ll have time for a more loquacious update this weekend.

Coin Shield PuzzleWith a little help from my friend Mr. Steve, I’ve finally been able to assemble all the coins required to build the shield without ‘accidentally’ spending any in the vending machine at work.

No, there’s no point to assembling the ‘puzzle’ – except that someone has gone to a not inconsiderable effort to design the thing to be put together, so it would be rude of me to not.

Apostrophe Abuse: 02Today’s example of Apostrophe Abuse comes courtesy of Energy Innovation in Halifax.  You’d think that when you’ve gone to all the effort – and expense – of getting a shiny, custom, mirrored sign printed you’d proof read it.  Apparently not.  Bravo, sirs.  Bravo.