* Posts by Michael Jecks

8 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Feb 2009

Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales

Michael Jecks

Re: Amazon seller europe - verification

The US government could well be interested in my UK passport details. Or any other English, French, Irish, Italian etc passport holders.

Apple asks judge to axe ebook price-fixing watchdog

Michael Jecks

Monopoly vs Cartel

What I find incomprehensible in all this is, publishers and Apple tried to fix prices at a level agreed by the businesses - why? To prevent Amazon taking down all publishing in their race to the bottom. It's blatantly obvious that, by preventing Apple and various publishers from operating an unofficial price-fixing arrangement as used to operate in all Western countries (and still operates in places like France) to protect authors, the American legal system has handed the market to a monopolist - Amazon. Authors will see their incomes slashed still further, publishers will be driven out of business, and only one firm will benefit.

I do have a personal interest. I'm an author. Amazon demands massive discounts on the books it sells. That means the authors see their income collapse by the same percentage (we tend to be paid based on net receipts). So personally I'd infinitely prefer to see Apple and others being allowed to set their prices at an economically sustainable level.

John Sweeney: Why Church of Scientology's gravest threat is the 'net

Michael Jecks

Re: Sweeney

Anonymous, your real problem is that Christians don't expect to have to read the bible on a pay-per-view basis; Moslems don't see it as their job to take my money before they'll explain to me why their religion is key; same goes for Hindus, Bhuddists, Wicca - even Jedis believe in talking about their creation myths without demanding money to ascend a 'ladder' of learning until you reach the truth at the top.

Which is that Xenu blew up space-aliens in a bunch of volcanos.

And, naturally, just as in any good film, the guy who was given this fabulous story was himself a Science Fiction writer. Who started writing this new creation myth after an evening on the wobbly pops with a bunch of his friends who were also Sci-Fi writers. It's what authors do, old chum. I know. I am one. And I have regularly sat down with mates and chewed over concepts for stories, and very often collaborated with those same friends to write books. Because it's what we do. However, I've never tried to scam anyone into believing that my works are the manifestation of some new truth from beyond the stars!

I have no objection to any potty cult setting out its store - and clearly by any definition, Scientology is a cult, not a religion - but I do have real issues with the entrapment of the weak and vulnerable for systematic abuse. Which is, I reckon, what the Scientolgists do. 'Higher truth'? gimme a break! When Scientology stops the behaviours that appear to be designed to separate followers from their money, and nothing else, perhaps I'll moderate my views. But I doubt it.

There you go. You want acceptance as a religion, it's easy. Stop running the cult as a scam, stop charging to rise through each Thetan level (it's easy, you know. Not a single, real, religion charges its disciples merely to learn about their own faith), and publish, for the price of the books, all the works which help new cult members to join and gain advancement. If the cult were to do that, it would help to bring some credibility. You see, you are measured by the way you behave. Religions try to persuade: not demand money.

In the meantime, I have to agree with the British High Court Judge Mr Justice Latey, who said:

'Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious ... It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit and has as its objective money and power ... It is sinister because it indulges in infamous practices both to its adherents who do not toe the line unquestionably, and to those who criticise it or oppose it. It is dangerous because it is out to capture people and to indoctrinate and brainwash them so they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living, and relationships with others.'

I think he summed it up perfectly.

Ten external battery packs

Michael Jecks


I've a Desire HD which is a joy to use. However, only for two hours or so. I use it every morning while walking the dogs, to send & receive emails, texts and tweets, and after two hours the damn thing's dead. So last week (before reading this article) I went onto Amazon and ordered an Anker Astro 2 battery. For under £25 it's a 8400mAh two-USB charger. With luck it'll keen the damn HTC working for a little longer until I can afford a Motorola Maxx.

Ten backpacks for tech-heads

Michael Jecks
Thumb Up


An interesting piece. However, I should point out the Kata range. Especially the DR467i. It's much like the Swiss backpack, with a large, padded section for a 17 inch laptop, a good sized section for lunch box, clothes etc, and several pen and iPod pockets. Obviously a thread-hole for earphones. Three small front pockets for necessary items. The big thing, though, is the bottom compartment that will hold a DSLR, lenses and flashguns. Everything easily to hand, and because the whole interior is bright yellow material, it's easy to find things in low light. Apart from that, there is a rain cover to protect the whole bag. Comes with a five year guarantee, and when my handle started to tear away after three years I received a replacement almost immediately. This bag travels with me everywhere as an overnight bag.

Council backs down on CRB checking grown-up lecturers

Michael Jecks

Not turn up?

So now that the council has apologised and backed down, two authors on limited incomes should cut off their income AND deprive the audience which was keen to meet them of their talks? I can't see how that would help anyone. No, Bernard and I will go, to show that there is no need for these petty, stupid, intrusive and ill-thought-out regulations. I really don't see any benefit to anyone in authors not going to give talks!

Michael Jecks

Yes, Stupid, I reckon

The trouble is, CRB checks wouldn't have found Ian Huntley. They wouldn't have found most people convicted of paedophilia because most of them happen to be within the family. CRB checks on the other hand are leading to an escalating level of 'risk management' which is affecting all of us. The presumption of guilt means that innocent teachers, care workers and others are being forced from their jobs and careers as a result of suspicion, sometimes based on malicious or confused allegations by children. You may reckon that if it saves one child's life, it's worth it - BUT how many ruined careers, how many broken families with children taken into care away from innocent parents justify each potentially saved life? And don't forget, there is as yet no evidence whatsoever that CRB has saved or will save a single life. This is a new raft of laws imposed purely to give the appearance of protection. They made 1570 errors in the last year to March. That is not all the errors - only the ones picked up. What percentage of the devastated lives does it represent?

So yes, very stupid indeed. A bureaucrat's response. Hitler would have been proud of it.

Father of ID cards moots compulsory passports instead

Michael Jecks

Blunkett's Baby

The interesting point here is that Private Eye is the only paper I've seen which has pointed out Blunkett's interest in ID cards has little to do with the good of the public. It is more likely to have something to do with his being on the payroll of one of the companies seeking to profit by use of the ruddy things. He's always been disliked by comrades and others because of his control-freak tendencies, but this is much more to do with his own back pocket.