My Thoughts on the Scottish Referendum

I’ve watched in on the Scottish independence debate in disbelief from a relatively long distance down in the South-East corner of England. I’ve never really considered myself a Unionist or a Royalist. I enjoy the best bits of being English and the best bits of being British, and occasionally, just as the next man or woman, I find it all too easy to become English or southern when fingers need (or don’t need) pointing to attribute national problems. That’s part and parcel of living in the most multi-cultural, multi-racial country in the world, a united country built in the age of empire with an ever-evolving, yet previously inconceivably strong identity that has been fostered through the most extreme adversities that came as a result.

What is clear to me is this: the United Kingdom as it was is now dead. Its demise began with the decision to devolve power to Edinburgh. This gave unreasonable, illogical credence to Alex Salmond’s petulant verbal bashing of the English. Whatever the outcome of Thursday’s referendum, the ties that have bound the England, Scotland and Wales together for 307 years (and Northern Ireland more recently) have been irrevocably cut by the actions of politicians of all party persuasions in this farce of a referendum.

The debate of freedom has centred all too much on economics. If the Scottish want to be independent it should be because there is no price on freedom; Jock Bloggs from Elgin saving £100, or €112, on his gas bill being pushed forward as the principle thinking behind his vote to stay part of the UK is the final slap British politicians can lay to the face of the once admired democratic franchise of the United Kingdom – something our great-grandfathers through to their great-grandfathers gave their lives to build and defend. As for Scotland’s Prime Minister-elect Salmond, his diatribe comparing the prospect of Scottish independence with black South Africans ending Apartheid. Well, no words are required. The relative lack of bite in the strong-willed opinion of the once infamous regional and national press and media corps hammering the way this referendum has been structured and campaigned over has been flabbergasting.

Whatever the result, the lasting fallout of the referendum ought to be for the people of the United Kingdom to wake up and redefine what it means to be British, for our politicians and our press have completely removed that from the conscience of those able to go to the polls in this, or indeed, any vote.


New Year’s Resolutions…

Rather than half heartedly tell virtually nobody what my New Year’s resolutions are, I thought I’d tell virtually nobody by posting them to my blog in the vain hope that my one or two readers pull me up on neglecting them!

1) Write a recommendation for one of my LinkedIn contacts every working day this year (it could be you!)
2) Train for the London Marathon
3) Run the London Marathon
4) Complete the London Marathon
5) Be nice to Anthony Hodgetts (NB only when not provoked)
6) Not to get annoyed by any Gangnam Style comparisons
7) Remember to tell the wife plans I make with at least 24 hours notice
8) Don’t procrastinate by talking about what I’m going to do… just do it (self-defeating with this blog post)
9) Take a family holiday in the Summer
10) To only partake in alcohol consumption prior to the London Marathon between 2nd February and 10th February (inclusive)

Not asking much of myself there, am I?

Next Directory Bookends

From: []
Sent: 18 July 2011 09:16
To: Complaints_Department
Subject: DIRECTORY COMPLAINT – Customer No. ******* (Recollection of Next Directory)
Email Address :
Customer No. : *******

Hi there,

You delivered a hardback directory to me a couple of months ago. Whilst it was kind of you to send it, I don’t recall ever asking for it. Nonetheless, I decided that the two big books would make excellent bookends on my shelves at home, so I kept hold of them.

However, I am surprised to discover a separate invoice to the tune of £3.75. I would be grateful if you could come and recollect the directory as I feel this amount is excessive for bookends, and of course for something I did not ask for in the first place.

Kind regards,

Tom Galanis

Dear Mr Galanis

Thank you for your e-mail.

I am sorry that you have been charged for the Next Directory when you have not requested a copy. I have refunded the charge of the directory and this will show on your next statement. Please keep the directory with our compliments or pass it onto a friend or family member who may make use of it.

I can confirm that no further Next Directories will be sent, unless specifically requested. Should you wish to receive a copy of the Next Directory in the future, please contact our Customer Services Department on 0844 844 8000*. Lines are open from 7.30am to 11.00pm Monday to Saturday and 8.00am to 11.00pm Sunday.

Once again, I am sorry for the inconvenience caused.

Kind regards

Complaints Department
Next Directory

* Calls cost 5p per minute from a BT landline. Mobile providers and other networks may vary

Worst Bet Ever?

So I’ve just shared a post from one of the connections on my LinkedIn Network. Someone he works with was against the idea that LinkedIn has any value whatsoever. As a result, the interestingly named gentleman, Mersudin Forbes, bet him that for every ‘Like’ or ‘Comment’ made to his LinkedIn post, his workmate had to give him £1. This was 2 hours ago.

Over 1,000 ‘Likes’ and 246 ‘Comments’ later and his mate is already looking in a spot of bother. Apparently I have over 7 million people in my LinkedIn network. We could see Mersudin making an appearance on the more famous Forbes list sooner rather than later.

As LinkedIn isn’t the best social networking site for sharing links for connections of connections (I guess this is what his workmate had in mind), you may need to add Mr Forbes to your network to earn him a quid. For those of you linked to me, you should be able to go through my profile and comment/like the post!

I think his as-yet-unidentified workmate might be about to learn the true value of viral. Woops!

Update: a day on and Mersudin is looking over £9,000 better off (assuming his mate honours the bet, which must be unlikely now!)

When No Negative Carryover is so so Negative

I’ve just had an email exchange with an affiliate who is unhappy at my refusal to pay her £253 in affiliate commission she believes is due to her for May.

Sadly for this affiliate, this particular affiliate program I represent has a negative carryover policy in place (if I had my way, this would be the case everywhere) and it works extremely well in this case.

In April, the single player attached to this affiliate’s account took away a 4 figure profit which put this affiliate’s account into the red to the tune of £342. They have subsequently dropped about 80% of their profits back to the house, but have seemingly walked away with the rest.

Now can anyone in their right mind please tell me why this affiliate believes she is owed money? The terms and conditions are quite clear and if she had a sizeable number of profitable players on her account and one took her to the cleaners, then by all means, I would look at helping her out. Dare I say it, it would not surprise me (as I’ve seen it countless times before) if she was acquainted with the account holder. Many affiliate programs have minimum new player thresholds in place, and this is precisely why. In fact, I may even consider adding this clause for new affiliates joining this program going forward.

But this purely demonstrates the ridiculous expectations some affiliates have of affiliate programs, their interpretations of common sense business practice, and the preposterous nature to which all-too-many affiliate programs have bent over backwards over the past 5 or 6 years to please their affiliates. I’m all for helping affiliates out in an effort to grow their business, but not when circumstances are as ludicrous as this.

She has threatened to pull her promotion of my client and “tell the affiliate world”. Boo, bloody, hoo. Maybe that world will tell her how ridiculous she is being. I doubt it though. I can expect a chorus of chastising communication clamouring for my common-sense to be curtailed and for my “carefree” clients to cast cash into the chasms of this community-concocted, confused commercial consensus. Crazy.

From the book of Grey Goose Revelations

Verse 5: So, I went to Calvin Ayre’s party last night. I hated the fact that I had to queue for half an hour, I immensely resented the fact ‘VIPS’ managed to queue jump (surely that was envy?), I found the creative interpretations of the seven deadly sins to be pretty damn bland, with the exception of the half naked fat guys gnoshing raw meet off each other’s torsos whilst a butcher provided them with fresh produce, I felt the whole thing was altogether a stage managed production than a party. I just didn’t get the vibe and I have to rank it as one of the worst parties I’ve had the privilege of attending in online gaming over the past 6 years.

But here’s the thing. First off, my shock levels are obviously disturbingly high. Secondly, I’m an ungrateful son of a bitch as Mr Ayre provided me with free alcohol for 3 hours or so and something to blog about. The very fact that I hated the party is what was brilliant about it and what is brilliant about Calvin Ayre and his Bodog brand.

After I’d made the decision to leave, rounded up a few of my nearest and dearest in iGaming and headed over to a more traditional party (Grey Goose and Moet on tap – thanks William Hill), I managed to share my thoughts to Calvin’s lawyer and Bodog’s Director of Products. I told them that the party wasn’t for me, that I didn’t get it and that I thought Calvin was an egotistical prick. That last bit was the Grey Goose squawking, but it made my point very nicely.

Now, these two fellas were good guys, typically gaming, typically defending their boss and the company that pays their wages. But that shouldn’t happen at Bodog. I spent the next hour or two telling them precisely why they shouldn’t be trying to make me see sense that it was a great party. What makes Calvin Ayre and Bodog so important to iGaming is not the fat naked guys, the pole-dancers, the bondage sessions, the wankers who get in the VIP area or queue jump, or even the deformed dwarves. It’s the fact that I hated it and some people loved it.

Imagine if all those mugs who had queued alongside me had been registered players and that party dictated whether they played at Bodog or not… Once we were finally let into the hype-filled freak show, most would have left straight away without spending a penny even with a no-deposit bonus of a free bar. 5 or 10 percent would have loved it and now believe that Calvin Ayre can walk on water. They would have dropped a grand in no time flat. Hell, they’d probably even be blogging about it with some affiliate links in there for good measure.

As a result, the party I’ve disliked most in online gambling is also the most important. I left it for another run of the mill booze fest courtesy of William Hill and a decent club. I’ve woken up wearing Eau de Grey Goose and it feels like just another conference day. Before reaching this all-too-familiar ignominy, I told the guys at Bodog what I thought of their attempts to sell the Calvin party to me. In a nutshell, I told them that they shouldn’t be working at Bodog if they took the viewpoint that everyone has to like something they do. That’s iGaming’s biggest problem – every operation tries to please everyone. They take what other companies do, copy it, take a small margin, cannibalise the industry, bore players and revel in it beyond belief as they down their Grey Goose.

So, hats off to Calvin Ayre and Bodog for differentiating on their brand. Your product is run of the mill along with 95% of the gambling operations, but every Tom, Dick and Harry has an opinion on your party, was prepared to queue in the rain for an hour and look like a tit, and write a blog post about it and this makes your brand special. It shows that extremes attract some people and that picks out Bodog’s well-deserved share of the market. Everyone else sits on their “evolutionary”, “state of the art” can’t-tell-the-difference-software-suites, let’s-all-go-for-the-same-players-and-pay-stupid-CPAs-to-acquire-them pedestals, all the while not sparing a moment to realise they are all drinking and smelling of the same brand of vodka. Good on you Calvin. For as long as you can stay out of jail, keep on carryin’ on.

(Please forgive any grammatical or spelling mistakes here. I am inebriated courtesy of Grey Goose. Maybe I should have shares there…)

Michael Jackson Casino – Who Is It?

It’s only Human Nature to look for the next big opportunity, but the Smooth Criminal who had an Off The Wall idea and bought up and decided to run a casino, poker room and sportsbook from the domain might well live to regret his Bad decision. He’s found himself in a bit of an awkward Jam. Now the legal team representing Jacko’s estate Wanna’ Be Starting Something through the law courts, threatening to sue the site’s owner and Go Daddy, who allowed the domain to be registered and hosted.

Naturally, Go Daddy don’t see this as much of a Thriller and a spokesman for the online giant is proclaiming his innocence. “I’m not the Daddy here. The guy that bought this up is not my son”. Not good enough for Howard Weitzman, the attorney acting for Jacko’s estate. “The Way You Make Me Feel is disgusted”. Disgusted to the tune of $100 million apparently. More than enough to make the site owner and Go Daddy sit up and Scream. Oh well, he may have been gone over a year, but Jacko’s lawyers are showing no signs of abating. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, hey!

I Remember The Time when I bought up a few celebrity-related domain names. Pretty glad I never put them live – always saw it as a bit Dangerous, but a message to the mystery site owner: You Are Not Alone. There will be plenty of people cheering your corner and hopefully you’ll meet the legal team head on and Beat It. Plus, the nature of the online world and trademarking means that this is not certain to be a Black Or White case. That said, I’m fairly confident you won’t get a great deal of sympathy from within the States. They Don’t Care (too much) About Us in the online gaming world, but perhaps you should have taken a good look at the Man In The Mirror before you went after US players and gone after a few Strangers in Moscow instead.

This is hardly going to put the online gaming world into a State Of Shock. We’re Unbreakable, don’t you know? The only question that remains is: Who Is It who bought and set up this debacle? Someone Put Your Hand Out or This Is It for the site’s owner!

Your Greatest Decade

So the Noughties are coming to an end tonight and it’s made me think about the best decade of my life to date. Now, despite a few grey roots, I’ve lived in only 3 decades and am torn between the Eighties and the Noughties as my pick.

The 80s were great for me as the decade I grew up in as a child. Nothing mattered at all besides great children’s TV (I’m thinking Postman Pat, MASK, He-Man, Thomas the Tank Engine, Thundercats etc), but I’m certain for a few elder folk, it probably wasn’t the greatest time (let’s face it, the music sucks on reflection). The 90s was an interesting time, but for most of it I was an obnoxious little teenage sh*t when obviously everything was pointless and not worth doing. The Noughties have been good… student days, meeting the love of my life and the start of a career. Though it is also the decade that I’ve realised that Britain and most of the rest of the World is falling apart (had I been aware of anything besides wondering how Cringer did manage to turn in to Battlecat and wallowing in my own self pity when I was younger, I may have come to this conclusion before, although I cannot confirm!). As I was blind to it all, the 80s wins it for me!

How about you old timers?

I’m interested to see how choice differs from country to country.

Happy New Year and New Decade to you all! Here’s to the Tens!