Tracks of the Week

Paul Raymond continues his super disco breaks series with volume three re-editing Chicago’s street player and re-tempoing it for modern beat mixers (like me). For those of you who haven’t heard the original, chances are you have heard Kenny Dope’s Bucketheads project cut up ‘the bomb’. The horn stabs, melody and vocals all came from street player. One to stay in the box as an intelligent and classy crowd pleaser.

Los Hermanos have recorded a very melodic techno record called Influence EP featuring ‘my mothers guitarra’ on the a-side. Pitch this down on the 1200s and you have a really good quality deep house groover. This is out on Underground Resistance (or you can go to United Rentals and check out some heavy plant.)

Disaster has struck, the nice people at the vinyl section in Fopp (corner of Earlham Street and Shaftsbury Avenue) are losing their space instore, this to allow them to sell more DVD’s. In preparation for this three of the listening stations have already been removed. Now I like my DVDs but this is real loss:
– The guys down there are the most helpful record shop staff in London (well now that Anthony@Flying has disappeared on a Far East odyssey)
– They had really competitive pricing and a really good selection
– Many of the customers wont go and support other independent shops but are likely instead to go to Virgin or HMV

I have been been told by insiders that the beast of mammon (otherwise known as head office management) are intractable in their decision.

Media tart Ged in PR Week (yet again)

News of our recent new client win corporate branding outfit Henrion Ludlow Schmidt was covered in the PR industry’s preeminent read ‘PR Week’ (page three on the side bar).

Orange has to suck it up or suffer the consequences

According to the latest edition of Mobile magazine, carrier Orange and Avon have a bit of a marketing disaster on their hands with a new mobile phone offer that has been too successful.

For every 15GBP spent on ANEW beauty products range customers get a voucher for a new Siemens A55 to be claimed at Orange stores. Both parties underestimated the redemption rate on the offer and consequently the amounts of handsets involved and the vouchers are even being traded on eBay. Orange has struggled to meet demand for the offer.

Orange has just gained some very expensive low-yield customers – a veritable pikey army. Fortunately, Orange has done the right thing by honouring the deal, so is unlikely to suffer the fate of white goods manufacturer Hoover whose reputation was tarnished beyond repair with an over subscribed international flight deal. Next time they should partner with someone who has more aspirational brand values like Loncome, Chanel or Clinique.

You can read my contribution to AlwaysOn about this here

Loss of Motown Legend

The Independent carried the obituary for Johnny Bristol a Motown era producer, singer and songwriter. He was best known to Heart 103 listeners for ‘Hang on in there baby’. Despite this he was a well respected artist beloved by fans of rare groove. My own personal favourite was ‘If I can’t stop you’, which is is an interesting mix with blues in its lyrics, disco in its tempo and jazz-funk in the instrumental arrangement.

Johnny also contributed to Ian Levine’s motor city records label. (Before producing High Energy and Take That tunes, Ian was one of the biggest DJ’s on the northern soul circuit (and also responsible for a religious schism within it) with a residency at the Blackpool Mecca). Motor city records made new records by some of Tamla Motown’s legends

If this kind of thing works for you then I would recommend the Strange Games and Funky Things compilations on BBE records.

The Evil Weed


Come Monday, smokers will become second class citizens in Ireland. It will be illegal to smoke in the workplace, enclosed public places and on public transport or get fined 7,000 Euros.

Country publicans are understandably upset – tabacco sales are a handy sideline to alcohol sales. Also the traditional Irish pub has nicotine coated walls and woodwork from years of punters Woodbines, Major and Carroll’s No.1 cigarettes; people died so that you can sit in a darkened pub. The blue haze of tabacco smoke gives it a mysterious air, a cigarette fills up your spare hand that could otherwise require another full pint glass. Even with punitive tabacco taxes a cigarette is still cheaper than a second pint of the dark stuff.

Reuters take on the tabacco ban.

Next stop – fried breakfasts and people who eat white bread criminalised.

Not so smartphone


I had to share this link that Bob sent through. You go out and have a few drinks, do you need a software program to tell you that you are likely to be drunk? Well according to TA Cybernetic Solutions, you may well do. For the princely sum of 2.45 USD you too can buy Blood Alcohol Level 1.0. According to the blurb. “If you love the taste of alcohol and love drinking. This application is the best for you.” Wrong, wrong, wrong – if you need to monitor your blood alcohol level you’re probably a designated driver. Step back from the beer now! To quote from Fosters lager marketing collateral – ‘If you drink and drive you’re a bloody idiot’ – couldn’t have put it better myself.

I guess that people are really scrapping the barrel for finding compelling applications for the latest smart phones. What next? New 3 phone with built-in Leatherman multi-tool and shot glass – a phone ready for any emergency.

Makes the 3 billion USD spent on ringtones worldwide last year seem worthy of a Nobel peace prize in comparison

Mutually Assured Disruption

Symbiot a Texas based Internet security company has announced a new technology that allows companies to ‘strike back’ at cyber attackers. Symbiot is looking to become a sort of ‘Smith & Wesson’ or Winchester of the ‘world wild web’, this may not be a good idea. Imagine giving bank staff access to machine guns. Then imagine telling them that you are going to export their jobs to Mumbai or a 14 year-old kid upsets them and you end up with a Falling Down type scenario. Further imagine that the bank employee kills a whole pile of bystanders.

This is the real-world equivalent of what could happen on the Internet. Hackers and script kiddies use slave machines to mount an attack whilst being concealing their own identities. ISPs and POPs (the internet equivalent of bus companies and roadways) could end up casualties, whilst the real perps get away scot free. In fact, this infrastructure disruption could encourage hackers to seek out and provoke a Symbiot powered response as a ‘denial of service attack by proxy’ on a particular network provider.

Now, imagine if one of Symbiot’s killer boxes was hacked and got into the hands of someone who really knew how to do it?

While the Dept of Homeland Security worries about the risk of radical Islamic hackers, its time they should start looking a little bit closer to home….

You can read my contribution to AlwaysOn about Symbiot here

Just another sucker on the vine

So it comes to this, a sad, yet necessary departure. A bitter sort of weak surrender. A long-delayed recognition that my reality doesn’t reconcile with my self-perception. Yes, I own a ‘hoover’.

Not just any ‘hoover’, mind. This is a gleaming mulberry 1976 Hoover TurboDrive Junior with one prior and now deceased owner. It’s suction power was unrivalled for the decade of its manufacture and I note, with some satisfaction, its extended handle seems perfectly designed for platform boot wearers. Its action is factory fresh and its suction really sucks.

My initial temptation to road-test it immediately has been resisted largely because I have no carpet but were I not so hung up on the nasty paedophile echo of Gary Glitter’s ‘Leader’ I might take it for glam-glide round the floorboards of my flat. There is sadly an additional problem here – I’ve got no floorboards.

My builder ‘D’ya GetMe’ Dave, is poised to sort out my structural deficiencies. This has involved long conversations about galvanised joist supports and penetrated Victorian slate damp courses during which each sentence ends not with a full stop, but a ‘D’ya GetMe.’ I’m getting on quite well with Dave – it’s my first encounter with a construction professional and, having privately calculated that the work will cost me between 30% and 50% more than the quote and take 30% to 50% longer than the schedule, we have made a breakthrough – I have assured Dave I’m good for a grand and I think, at long last, he gets me.

So here I am with a mortgage, an artisan in my employ and the brand royalty of home suction devices. This was not meant to happen but at least I have resisted acquisition of an iron.

Additional Contributors


Well known journalists Bob Emmerson and George Malim have agreed to contribute to the blog. This won’t happen for a while because Bob has a trade show in the US to attend, but I look forward to having my own copy disrupted by some well written postings!

Howard Dean, an American Neil Kinnock?


Dean was feted by the media before the nominations started, because of a vocal and visible core of supporters, but then disappeared as the votes were cast. IT Conversations has a very interesting recording of a speech byJoe Trippi who was responsible for Howard Dean’s democratic party campaign at the recent O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. The Dean campaign looked to overthrow the system of interest group money purchasing television spots and presidential ads and so an election. He was inspired by the dialogue empowered by different web technologies.

Joe Trippi admitted that he was defeated by the system of lobbyists, money and traditional media. Dean started with 137,000 USD in the bank, 437 supporters nationally and a campaign team of seven. Dean did manage to use the Internet to get grassroots support to achieve an unparalleled amount of campaign funding from over 300,000 supporters.

The use of Meetup.com to get online supporters to meet up and then plan real world grassroots action over the water cooler, or over the garden fence was a key element of the campaign.

Trippi said that the internet community do not get the harsh realities of real world politics – money matters. It has also shone a spotlight on the established political machine of special interest groups.

Is Trippi the next Peter Mandelson? I don’t know but his tactics have raised awareness of the web as an effective political tool. The key problem with the Internet based campaign is it couldn’t respond to the repetition of negative television advertisements and negative new stories in the established media. So there is hope for PR people and ad agencies yet.

As an aside I would be interested to see how online grassroots lobbying communities like MoveOn (from the people that gave us the original Flying Toasters screensavers back in the day) will influence the political debate.

Keeping a 63-year old happy


My parents came down for the weekend. While my Mum was content to chill out and do some knitting whilst listening to Daniel O’Donnell slaughtering country and western standards, my Dad was at a loss for something to do. Having been told by my friend Kirsty who has a little boy that the Science Museum has free admission, I had a brain wave.

My Dad is a fitter by trade and we spent about two hours finding out about the development of the steam engine and the rise of the internal combustion engine. We found out that James Watt did not invent the steam engine (our school teachers lied to us) but improved on existing designs. We took a brief break and then pushed into the space section and then on into the modern world with everything from a Mills & Boon novel to an transgenic sheep proteins (derived from their milk). So far so good, the digital section did not impress, despite its architectural scale, but the aviation gallery got a big thumps up from Pops.

When he comes down to pick my Mum up next week, we hope to go back to explore more of the Science Museum.

The journey home however was a bit of a trauma with Thameslink trains shutting down their service completely. We had to get home via Milton Keynes (a soul less bit of urban planning) and it took us four hours.

Good evening Mr Carroll, we’ve been expecting you

Friday, and my Palm PDA bleeped in that nagging sort of way that it does. I looked down and saw that it was time to get my watch serviced again. I have the good fortune to have got a Rolex Submariner at a knockdown price off my old man some years ago before their prices went stupid. The watch is as old as I am and has weathered the adventures we have shared (including scuba diving, flyposting in sink hole estates, dj’ing in abandoned mills and dot.com client meetings) considerably better. Every three years it goes in for a service.

Rolex in London had changed their location since last time, so after getting off at the wrong tube and then heading halfway across W1, I arrived at their new offices in St James’ Sq in a bit of a fluster. Talk about brand experience, their foyer is all sea green wavy patterned glass, dark green marble (all in the same colours as much of their packaging and website) and high quality woodwork, with a couple of lovely looking blonde receptionists; it looks every inch like the sitting room of a Bond villain’s hideaway.

A reassuringly old man in a spotless white coat took my watch away. I will be interested to see how much work it needs in the next week or so. Seriously tempted to get it a companion with a 50th anniversary edition Submariner or a Seadweller, but that would be a bit materialistic…

Firefox up

For some reason Safari, the zippy default browser on my Mac does not like the format buttons in Blogger, the online tool I use to write these musings. I have loaded up the latest iteration of Mozilla called Firefox as a back up. I am very impressed with its speed and relative lack of bugs. It beats seven bells out of Microsoft Explorer and Microsoft was withdrawn from the Mac marketplace for Internet browsers so a fast reliable alternative was required.

Cufflinks & ‘The Game of Death’

Cufflinks are men’s equivalents to alice bands (except for David Beckham) frivolous items of attire, there is no rhyme or reason for them but shirt makers insist that you use them so that they can skimp on buttons. I can find using them to be a right pain in backside. My one set of cufflinks were bought at a shop in the West End and feature a black and white hand and shoulders portrait of Bruce Lee (from The Game of Death publicity stills apparently). This struck me as a bit of an oddity unless that practicing kung fu is as time consuming and trying as doing up a set of cufflinks in a hurry. They are bit of a conversation piece and my friend Ian and I were talking about them. I complained that using cufflinks were a ‘challenge’ and he pointed out that cufflinks in his view were a way of preparing for the day. You cant do them efficiently unless you are at ease, rather than having your mind going in 20 directions at once. There you go, one man’s frivolous clothing item, another man’s zen pillar – you decide….

DeVinci Code – storm in a tea cup

The DeVinci Code is a bit of a storm in a teacup and yet says something about our time. Basically its your Dad’s Robert Ludlum (rather than Tom Clancy – not enough tech or family values) book with a theological bombshell rather than a nuclear one and still gets the girl at the end. It has become the world’s best selling hardback novel. Dan Brown, writes well and keeps his yarn running at a good rate of knots.

Much has been said elsewhere about the way that it draws on the Gnostic gospels, so I wont go into that here – which is also good because I am not qualified to comment with any kind of authority on the accuracy or theological merit of the book.

What I found most interesting is the parallels with the war on terror, the white middle class end-boomer hero battles unknown religuous forces ‘determined’ to keep its own believers enslaved in a deluded faith. I was struck how much of George Bush like view this is of Islam and the current war on terror. Just in the same way that 1950s sci-fi films were a mirror held up to the audience of their own Cold War induced paranoia.

I am sure that Gnostic-based self help books will pepper the holiday reading charts this summer.

Coca-Cola bedeviled by Dasani

Coca-Cola have had a rough couple of weeks with their entry into the UK bottled water market. A few weeks ago the UK tabloid press ‘exposed’ Dasani as tap water from Sidcup, then the water mains burst in the town, now they have bromate contamination. Of course this did not stop me pouring petrol on the fire by bending over backwards to help a CNBC Europe researcher who phoned up looking for expert comment on how this may affect the Coca-Cola and Dasani brands, I managed to place Mark North, creative director of Henrion Ludlow Schmidt’s London office on the European Closing Bell programme as an expert commentator.

What really astonished me was that in less two hours after the story broke in the late editions of London’s Evening Standard it had appeared on 89 different news sites listed by Google News including the San Jose Mercury and Straits Times. There is no longer such a thing as a local brand….

I also posted a comment on this at AlwaysOn Network