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12.5.09

Why The Paradise Club isn’t on DVD 

Leslie Grantham and Don Henderson in The Paradise Club

Slightly off-topic—the sort of post you might see on my casual, throwaway-line blog over at Vox. But it is connected to some of my regular topics such as and business.
   One of my favourite of all time is , created by the late . While it’s no secret I like the humour of The Persuaders (which in part inspired the name of this blog) and the black-and-white storylines of Return of the Saint, in the post-Professionals era, only one British action–drama had all the right ingredients.
   The Paradise Club hit the right buttons: the 20 episodes had high-quality, consistent scripts; they were filmed beautifully; and the interplay between the late Don Henderson and Leslie Grantham as two very unlikely brothers was brilliant.
   But if you go on YouTube, there is only one complete episode (‘Rock and Roll Roulette’), a clip from another (I believe it’s from ‘The Great Fly-Tipping War’), and a clip from a Detectives parody guest-starring Grantham and co-star Leon Herbert.
   It’s as though in the Web 2·0 era, The Paradise Club has ceased to exist. There are few references to it—about the most detailed (other than the IMDB listing) is on Leslie Grantham’s official site, almost as a CV entry. Murray Smith’s name can be found, but there’s no record online of his birth name any more (Murray-Smith was actually his surname). There is, shockingly, no DVD for the series. It’s arguably Britain’s most overlooked TV series considering the audience numbers it generated.
   People refer to the series as a one, but it was very popular in 1989–90, and two series were commissioned from Zenith Productions, the people who made Inspector Morse.
   Last week I tracked down The Paradise Club’s script editor, Philip Palmer, who has gone on to become a successful novelist, penning Debatable Space. This science fiction book has had some great reviews from other writers as well as the British broadsheets. A second book, Red Claw, is due October 2009.
   I asked him if he knew why The Paradise Club had never made it to DVD, and he kindly responded (the italics are mine):

I’ve spoken to Archie Tait, who was the executive producer and one of the originators of the show (with the late lamented Murray Smith.) He tells me there are two reasons the DVDs aren’t available. Firstly Zenith, who own the show, have gone bankrupt. Secondly, there’s a lot of original on the which makes it difficult to release, because of the situation. (A song is a particular problem.) For exactly this reason the hugely popular ITV series (of which Archie produced 100 eps) isn’t available on DVD—because it features a lot of great 60s songs and ITV don’t own international rights to them.

Philip regards the situation as ‘Crazy,’ and I agree with him.
   If you are a fan, then there is some potential good news:

Your query has prompted Archie to start chasing up the rights of Paradise Club. It’s such a waste of all that material! And, as your email shows, there’s still a real interest in the series.

   Any one of us who has had to draft or review a contract in the business knows how tough it is to predict technologies, so I can fully understand the difficulties that Philip writes of. The same situation held back the release of Moonlighting on DVD, something that creator Glenn Caron had to remedy as he wasn’t prepared to release his series with anything but the originally chosen songs.
   There is no real solution to prevent a repeat if yet another new medium comes our way. You don’t want contracts that are so loose as to leave one without protection (and a challenger says, ‘That was not envisaged at the time of drafting’); yet you don’t want ones that are too tight that adaptations are discouraged.
   But on the main topic itself, I hope Archie Tait finds success with his efforts—may the stars align for that! I believe there’s huge interest in The Paradise Club, especially considering its age, and there have been calls for a DVD version of the two series for quite some time. If the material can generate extra income for the team that put it together, and for the families of Murray Smith and Don Henderson, then all the better—they deserve it.
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6.5.09

BYD farewell to ethics 

I had been under the impression that automaker was a , though in Autocade I stopped short of making this assertion since I had no proof of it. I did think it was odd that BYD has Mitsubishi-derived engines. It turns out there is no connection with Toyota, but when you see things like the below you have to wonder.
   Two years ago, BYD issued this photograph of its upcoming model, the F1. It since renamed the car the F0, because it claimed it didn’t to get into a legal dispute with the Formula 1 people.

BYD F1 publicity photograph, 2007

   Look familiar? While BYD might not want legal trouble with F1, it doesn’t seem to mind legal trouble with Toyota. Here’s a publicity photograph for the Toyota Aygo:

Toyota Aygo

   BYD’s general manager, Xia Zhibing, has been quoted as saying, ‘The BYD F1 is a model developed by ourselves and we hold the right for it.’
   I guess there’s no shame at BYD, and that the ideals of truthfulness in Confucianism haven’t made a return to parts of Red China.
   Come on, Mr Xia, the only contribution BYD has made to the 2007 photo is in Adobe Photoshop! If you are going to lie about it, don’t make it so obvious by using someone else’s publicity pic first! At least use CAD to generate something new!
   Or this could be some form of getting war reparations from Japan, but that Toyota hasn’t been informed. (Remember the Bristol 401?)
   And this is the company that has put money in to. Somehow I think that if any BYD cars ever make it to the US as Mr Buffett intends, Toyota’s going slap a big court order on them, and not a single one will make it on to the market.
   If you look at the F3 and F6, BYD’s larger models, the doors look identical to those of the Toyota Corolla E120 and Toyota Camry XV30 respectively, but the front- and rear-end styling has been modified to resemble some of Honda’s work. I understand the dimensions are slightly different but that an expert should be able to prove objective similarity in the shapes of the doors—or enough to stop BYDs from going on sale in many markets.
   The F3 hybrid, the world’s first plug-in production car, beating Chevrolet with its Volt, might have an innovative powertrain, but what is the likelihood that has come from somewhere else?
   BYD shows how out of touch parts of Red Chinese commerce is with, well, honesty and decency. I’m happy to deal with mainland Chinese firms, but only those that I am connected to by blood or referred to by family—and governments should not be signing things like with the Politburo in till some of these intellectual property issues can be sorted out.
   New Zealand, of course, is a trifle too naïve, with its free-trade agreement with Red China—but that’s another story.
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4.5.09

Facebook switches email notification fields back on 

This is interesting. Over the weekend I blogged about how Facebook added two fields into the ‘Notifications’ page, without my knowledge, and had switched them on. In layman’s terms, added two reasons it could send me automated .
   I somehow found myself clicking on ‘My Account’, then ‘Notifications’. There were two new fields: (a) ‘Updates about Facebook product news’ and (b) ‘Invitations to participate in research about Facebook’. In both cases, Facebook had switched them on, which means the service could send me emails on these two topics.
   Bear in mind that virtually everything else on that page is switched off. I don’t like getting Facebook notifications as there are too many of them.
   It’s my choice, right? If I disliked this so much, I could switch them off. No need to be a crybaby. So I did, then clicked ‘Save changes’.
   In replying to one of my readers today, I went back to the page to tell her verbatim which two fields were new. And here’s what I found:

Facebook switches on spam without permission

Facebook has switched the two fields back to ‘on’ again.
   I was under the impression that Facebook was serious about our privacy and email preferences. Facebook: no means no.
   If you would rather not get emails on these two matters, go into your Facebook settings. But don’t go just once—go twice or even three times to make sure the site “remembers” that you opted out of receiving .
   Facebook seems to be a necessary evil as far as I am concerned, such as for class reunions and events—but what motive does it have in annoying its users?
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3.5.09

New Zealand’s favourite bank 

Man, I like this bank. In the post last week with a small pack of Moccona cappuccino mix:

TSB Bank note

   I never got this with the other banks I had been with, though I did used to get invited to the ANZ branch parties when Laura Crellin was the manager.
   It shows that Lynne and TSB Bank get it when it comes to customer service—and that they are prepared to reciprocate kindness. I really appreciate the gesture.
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2.5.09

Facebook’s latest changes are also ill-advised 

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/benjamino/ has gone through another round of ill-advised changes over the past week.
   When someone “friends” you, you now have to put in the information about how you know one another when the invitation is accepted. If you forget to do this, there is no way you can make up for it later with Facebook’s new friends’ interface. Bad move on Facebook’s part—if your friend does not do this, or gets it wrong, then it’s too darned bad. You will have to advise your friend of the error, “unfriend” him or her, and go through the process again, if you want this information to be recorded accurately.
   Secondly, Facebook now based on where the user is. This, you think, might make sense. I argue that it does not, and I have often been an opponent of geo-targeting.
   When I look at an American print magazine, I see American —and I expect the same online. If I wanted domestic advertising, I’d browse a domestic site. The point is that I choose which jurisdiction I want to be sold from. It’s thanks to the absence of geo-targeting in the early days that I discovered many etailers to begin with, such as CD Now and Amazon.com.
   Prior to the latest change, Facebook fed advertisements to the user based on where the user said his or her location was. I had mine set to Göteborg, Sweden, because I felt the Swedish advertisements had more relevance to me than Kiwi auction ads for an iPod—especially considering that I am one of the last New Zealanders not on TradeMe or similar services. I also wanted to read Swedish ads to practise my comprehension of the language.
   I discovered this when travelling through India, having set my location to Hong Kong while I was there and forgetting to change it to New Delhi. While in India, Facebook still fed me Hong Kong ads. It made perfect sense to me, especially as I am a Hong Kong native. Some of us wouldn’t mind getting advertising from our home towns.
   Equally, a Kiwi living in the UK might just want to see Kiwi advertising when (s)he browses Facebook.
   It makes no difference to Facebook money-wise if it is being paid on CPM rates. However, if it wants to show better CTRs, or clickthrough ratios, then I suggest it return to the status quo ante.
   Finally, I spotted two new ‘Email notification’ entries that Facebook had added, and turned on without my permission. I advise Facebook users to go through their privacy settings: they will be in for a bit of a surprise.
   But Facebook has shown it seldom listens to the user base—its continues to show, with every move it makes. I write about this, but I don’t expect the company to do a thing about it.
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We say they’re British, but Brown still defended his apartheid policy 

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/nyome_wallen/My friend Pete blogged last week about how he had written a letter to the UK Foreign Secretary over the treatment of the . (As it was a private post I will not reveal Pete’s surname or URL.) And, sadly, this is typical of the in its dealings with any group that could claim to be —but happen to be of colour.
   While the above is a sweeping statement, and I realize there are plenty of whites who have served in Gurkha regiments, it’s been my observation that the has not been fair when it comes to those who have sworn allegiance to the country but do not hail from an Anglo–Saxon or European race.
   The Gurkhas had sworn to defend HM’s interests over the years, and interestingly, there seems to be a great deal of support from the British public over their plight. of the Liberal Democrats has said that if Gurkhas were prepared to die for Britain, then ‘surely they deserve to live here,’ while the Labour Government seems fearful of the idea that there would be a wave of new immigrants flooding the land.
   Somehow I think the British public would be more accommodating of those who served in the name of Her Majesty than Europeans who are there by virtue of the Common Market.
   I support the Gurkhas, wholeheartedly. I was raised on stories on their bravery and loyalty. And they have put more on the line in defence of the United Kingdom than many who consider themselves British.
   I’ve seen all these excuses from the British Government before. Before was handed back to the Chinese in 1997, the UK made changes to its law to prevent Hong Kong-born British subjects settling there. The Tories’ excuse at the time was the fear of a wave of immigrants—six million at the time—heading to the UK. It would have been a more fitting excuse from someone like Sir John ‘Go Home Johnny Foreigner’ Goldsmith.
   As British Columbia and various Australian states found out because of the UK’s policies, many Hong Kong émigrés took their hefty bank accounts to more accommodating homes. Canada and Australia benefited from the Hong Kong Chinese immigrants’ work ethic, while Britain missed out. We didn’t exactly create a class of bludgers or some massive drain on their social services. To engage in by creating a class of ‘British Overseas Nationals’ for us is hypocritical at best.
   Labour’s cries of ‘change’ during its 1997 General Election campaign can best be interpreted, 12 years on, as ‘more of the same,’ and the Prime Minister’s belief that his party has made advances shows how out of touch he is with public opinion. It was unsurprising, then, that yesterday the PM was defeated, with 27 of his own party voting with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to allow retired Gurkhas to settle in Britain—which shows that in some cases, Parliament does indeed reflect the will of the people.
   As I have blogged before, Britain has not gone out of its way to protect our interests and tends to ignore many of us, and in this respect I have a great deal of empathy for the Gurkhas. While I have never put my life on the line in the way they have, I also have sworn an allegiance to HM Queen Elizabeth II, and I expect that to be reciprocated when there are matters that the British Government, by law, must assist me with. All too often the Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not understand its own obligations.
   I see sons and daughters of British citizens who have never set foot in the UK, who have no desire to be connected to the UK except to gain a passport for travel purposes, become admitted as British nationals themselves, and the only commonality they have with the majority of Britons is the colour of their skin.
   Meanwhile, many of us born under the Union Jack and considered ourselves British by birth, and who consider ourselves loyal subjects of HM the Queen, are cast aside, and one of the only things that seems to unite us is that we don’t have white skin.
   The vote yesterday was a statement by the British people to say: apartheid doesn’t work. One would think that Labour, after being accused of racism by the Conservatives back in 1983 (anyone remember ‘Labour thinks he’s black. Tories say he’s British’?), would tread carefully in the wake of Tony Blair’s ‘change’ rhetoric 12 years ago. This is perhaps why I am always sceptical of anyone who talks about ‘change’ in an election campaign.
   In Britain, we have seen no change and no greater understanding from HM Government on the simplest rules of law. All this does is set up the Tories for their own cry of ‘change’ come the next General Election—and the British public might, this time, fully remember where Labour fell considerably short.
   The Gurkhas have scored a symbolic victory, as have everyday British people, but the fact that Labour even moved to exclude Gurkhas from what most right-minded people would consider their due shows both arrogance and ignorance to the greatest degree.
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1.5.09

Twitter ratios of the rich, famous or arrogant 

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/comicbase/If a presence is de rigueur in 2009, then who is using it as a tool for generating and connecting with stakeholders?
   A few weeks back, I posted my top 10 reasons for following someone on Twitter. While not everyone agreed with the 10, I dare say that the majority struck a chord. And one of the things many of us agreed on was that certain wanted the same level of worship on Twitter as they had in the offline world—and how that wasn’t exactly encouraging for some of us to become one of their followers.
   That’s fine: it’s their prerogative, but I see it as rather self-centred. ‘Come, look at me, I am Tweeting,’ doesn’t seem as accommodating—or even human—as, ‘I want to hear about you, too.’ All the ideas about modern —from Christian Gronröos and relationship marketing, to the Medinge Group’s writings about humanizing , to Stefan Engeseth’s One—are summed up in the latter quotation.
   Part of the reason for President ’s campaign’s success was his staff’s use of the service. It should be noted that since winning his election he has been an irregular Tweeter, which suggests to me a reduced desire to interact with the Twitter community, but only he really knows for sure. What is less arguable is that the President has a reasonable following-to-followers ratio: he is following 766,815 people, while 1,044,307 follow him.
   It means that if the President ever logs in to his account, he’ll see the latest updates of some of these 766,815. And if he does want a feel of the , he can do that very easily. As Barack Obama is probably the most tech-savvy American president in history, this would be a good way for him to keep his finger on the pulse—and ignore any biases in opinion polls.
   One can compare this with the other extreme: actor–producer . I recently saw that he had proclaimed himself ‘Mr Twitter,’ which is laughable, considering he doesn’t have a grasp of the service at all. Mr Kutcher follows 142 while he has 1,542,437 followers. If the is this great equalizer, one where there’s one-to-one or even one-becoming-one communication, then Kutcher fails terribly based on his ratio: he sees Twitter as a one-way service, another channel to broadcast without needing to hear back from his supporters.
   It’s his right, of course, and we all have our ways of using Twitter. I just don’t see his as being particularly fruitful for his , and I see the proclamation of ‘Mr Twitter’ particularly arrogant. That would be like my calling myself ‘Mr Branding’ just because I wrote and co-wrote a few books.
   There are in-between cases, such as actor , who maintained a very healthy ratio before he gained more followers than he could handle in a very short space of time. Cases like that are totally forgiveable, in my book. I understand, though I have not known of his account for long, that Hugh Jackman found himself in a similar boat.
   And perhaps some of us are on information overload. For my first year on Twitter after I joined in April 2007, the only people I followed were those I met in the real world, because I didn’t need another thing to follow. After a while I opened myself up to reading more from others—it helps one feel connected to the dialogue on our planet, if that’s what one wants.
   So by this reckoning, how are others’ ratios? As of this Friday (this post was written around 1.30 p.m. GMT), we are looking at the below numbers for a few people I can think of. And with the exception of a few , many in that field are doing a terrible job of listening to the people: I’m talking about Sens. and Claire McCaskill in particular. Politicians should be doing better than that.
   Gov. ’s account is still, from what I can tell, very new (started April 29, 2009), and I’m prepared to extend to her the same courtesy as I have to Stephen Fry and Hugh Jackman—for now.
   With an emphasis on American , here’s how things are stacking up in terms of Twitter ratios. Does it say much about their egos or how much they wish to interact with the public, or does the ratio cease to mean much when we talk about the very well known?

PersonTwitter handleFollowingFollowersRatio
John Edwardsjohnedwards13,65112,412109.98%
Karl RoveKarlRove43,54646,05094.56%
Congressman John Boehnerjohnboehner9,2619,84594.07%
Maria Shrivermariashriver44,26153,46382.79%
Gov. Arnold SchwarzeneggerSchwarzenegger44,26356,39778.48%
Gov. Bobby JindalBobbyJindal14,34419,05475.28%
President Barack Obamabarackobama766,8151,044,30773.43%
Britney Spearsbritneyspears377,8991,263,01729.92%
Stephen Frystephenfry55,097464,87811.85%
Mayor Gavin NewsomGavinNewsom23,809336,2947.08%
Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara_Boxer4827,2756.63%
M. C. HammerMCHammer26,048563,7334.62%
Sen. Kay Hagankayhagan195123.71%
Sen. Chris Doddchrisdodd201,2651.58%
Jonathan RossWossy3,424235,4981.45%
Vice-President Joe Bidenjoebiden15621,1880.74%
Gov. Sarah PalinAKGovSarahPalin4511,7820.38%
Shaquille O’NealTHE_REAL_SHAQ456858,4170.05%
Perez HiltonPerezHilton199727,8950.03%
Hugh JackmanRealHughJackman33167,4850.02%
Demi Mooremrskutcher81801,8080.01%
Ashton Kutcheraplusk1421,542,3470.01%
Rumer WillisTheRue557,1020.01%
Sen. John McCainSenJohnMcCain43541,0420.01%
Lance Armstronglancearmstrong57754,0490.01%
Martha StewartMarthaStewart28519,3430.01%
Sen. Claire McCaskillclairecmc122,6190.00%
Ellen DeGeneresTheEllenShow211,264,8860.00%
Oprah WinfreyOprah11747,2660.00%
Al Gorealgore7707,4650.00%
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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