Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A new review disease

I have noted as late a strange disease that has hit Amazon, and probably other sites too.

It used to be blogspam, or I suppose reviewspam that caused minor irritation; spambots being quite good nowadays and lots of customers objecting to posts that are obviously not reviewing, but advertising, that was the favoured method of getting someone's attention.  It is very unethical, and very naughty.

Nah, there's a new one.  It's as old as Mark Antony and peering at the Amazon site late at night on my Kindle, as often as I do, I'm on to them.  What puzzles me is why they do it.  It is praising an item so effusively that you think "this sounds good" and download it.  But the book is, at best, mediocre.  In some instances, the book is just downright dire.  The truth comes out later with moaning reviews on how they downloaded it on the basis of the previous 5 star reviews and have been left with something taking up another little portion of their Kindle.

I've only seen them on free (for the time being) downloads, but I'm thinking the virus has spread to the paying books too.  My theory is that these guys are Amazon Associates (so am I, but it was a very half-hearted attempt to get thatangellook to pay its way, I have never tried, and don't want to try, aggressive marketing) - eventually these books will be on the paid list, for a price from around £4.99.

The trouble is, the Associates are making themselves look stupid by bumping a complete turkey up the Bestsellers list.  This in turn, causes, one, genuinely good items to sink and be ignored (there are honestly some gems in the free books list), and two, Kindle owners to become disheartened with everything they imagined the Kindle to be.  Most of it is true, they just haven't found the diamonds in the rough.  It also gives the Associates a bad name, just another set of blagging salesmen.

Free books are the window for new authors.  I have bought books from authors on the strength of the freebie.  The shenanigans of these so-called "reviewers" can only cause damage to the market, only minor, but every little bit helps.

I can spot them a mile off now, it's the style of the reviews that are so similar, a hundred different user names but probably only a couple of dozen actual people.  But they are trying to get money under false pretences.  (I have seen one or two that claim to be authors themselves.  Really.  I'll show you some swampland in Florida that is prime for holiday lets.)

How do they sleep nights?  If you do it, please stop.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Well colour me purple and call me Barney.  This is the first post I've written from that marvellous piece of new Amazon tech called the Kindle.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Memories, like the corners of my mind (Part 1)

I've been in payroll 23 odd years, and it's bizarre that, as I look about and consider whether to maybe have a career change, or at least, modification, because there are too many ghosts, memories, echoes, some good, some bad, some hysterical, some devastating.

It's easy to forget, even in Front Line payroll, that I am paying real people (it is very common to completely forget in Back End) .  This might sound odd, but payroll has a production line mentality so that you don't realise how crucial that commission, bonus, overtime or sickness payment is to an employee.  And although some payslips may make you shriek in fake horror, because they pay more tax than you get net earnings in a year, or the dreaded 'I don't understand my payslip' and you are looking at a statement that would make Einstein consider his career pathway, you either love or hate payroll.  I've seen colleagues come and go, a lot stay in payroll (though there are a few here that are saying they won't go back into payroll again, but that's because most of them have never had the inspiration to try anything else until they are forced to, as they will be), but a few go, and I've heard a lot of bizarre reasons.

"This was just a stop gap until I found a proper career"  (Like payroll is not a career.  Everyone has to get paid some time.  Try telling that to the IPP.)

"It's too easy, I want to try something else" (Read: I am no bloody good at this job and I should leave before the boss realises)

"It's boring." (You've never tried to find the entertainment in your work, have you?)

Actually - the last?  Well, yes, payroll can be mighty dull, but you find your entertainment, particularly in a payroll of the size I work on, which has all the colours of human society, and some of them can speak proper English.  When someone throws a girly tantrum on the phone, you do have a laugh about it afterwards with your colleagues, because that is what keeps you sane.  Boring?  The majority of the actual work, maybe.  The flavours and the satisfaction of doing the crucial and interesting tasks, making "friends" with people over the phone (due to the frequency of your telephone conversations) but sadly you will probably never meet.  Boring? On the whole, no, I love my job, and I will probably cry buckets when I leave.

Friday, June 11, 2010


The provisional agreement of how much we will get on leaving next year has been made. Course, this starts dreams of how to spend it, but mine started incredibly practical; pay off all annual bills, any debts outstanding, new puta, washing machine (rather than renting it) so that I can probably survive, for at least a year, on the likely lower salary.

However, a new thought came into my head, or the old home sickness if you like, dreaming of my old home. I think I have memories of what it was, not what it became and was growing to hate. There are old ghosts that I need to lay to rest, and people I should see, in case that it is a long, long time before I go back again. So, next spring, I'm going back to the borough in which I was born, for a week maybe, confront the ghosts and come back...home...and maybe free of the doubts, and rid of some of the fears.

Friday, June 04, 2010


It is maybe 10 months to R-day, although it may be that it could be as long as a year.  This means I have to undergo something totally alien to me - Planning.

I have never been a good planner.  True, I sorta 'planned' our move from London to N Wales, and sorta 'planned' my wedding 20 odd years ago, but it still needed nagging from various parties or even physical manhandling (oo er) for me to get done what needed to be done.

There are some plans in my head, including the practical stuff I could do soon after the dread day (although I am not sure if that is an accurate description) but whether I will actually do them, well, that just remains to be seen.  I know me too well.

There are lots and lots of stuff I have 'in progress'.  I mean, you name it, training on general workplace stuff (what my colleague calls 'clipboard management training'); training on technical stuff such as Java, CSS; training in Knowledge Management, short stories started, not finished; Welsh language learning in progress...actually there is shed loads more that I could state but could never remember.  Oh yeah, thatangellook and SHOTS reviews.  Oh, and keeping the job I've got going, and my sanity, for up to a year.  Oh and yeah, keeping the other half happy.  And...

You get the picture.

Actually, this is me all over.  I Am Work In Progress.  Wouldn't have it any other way.