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Grumpy Old Man Alert

December 12th, 2023 · Posted by Skuds in Life · No Comments · Life

I’m going to resist complaining about Christmas. I don’t like it, and don’t like anything about it, with the exception of mince pies and that Mariah Carey song. As a misanthropic atheist I find it all very tedious, depressing and stressful, but then you can’t get much more tedious than people complaining about Christmas, so I have found a couple of other things to moan about instead.

The first thing to moan about is the perverse selection of books that go on special offer in the Kindle store on Amazon. I have picked up quite a few of the deals of the day for 99p, and mostly enjoyed them, but do not understand why they so often promote books that are a sequel.

For example, earlier in the year I got tempted by 1989 by Val McDermid and on reading it I discovered that it is the sequel to 1979. A couple of months later 1979 was on offer as well. I enjoyed them both, but would have rather read them in the right order.

A more egregious example was when The Murder Book by Mark Billingham was on offer. This is book number 18 in a series. OK, so I did buy it, I did read it and I did enjoy it. I did then go on to get the first book in the series and and worked my way through them, but I think it would have made more sense to offer book 1 for 99p instead of book 18. Although the references to earlier stories did not get in the way of the story too much they did act as spoilers for three or four of the earlier books. From a purely commercial point of view, I would have thought that more readers would get tempted in by book 1 of a series and then get hooked, than would be tempted by book 2 or book 18 of a series.

The second moan is also Amazon-related.

I very much enjoyed watching the Bosch series on Amazon Prime. They produced eight seasons of it, which is the longest-running show on Prime, I think. At the end of season eight, Harry Bosch leaves the LAPD to become a private investigator and that becomes a new series called Bosch: Legacy. Although a new programme with a new title, it is the same character, played by the same actor, with a lot of other characters from the original programme also in it and played by the same actors, and made by the same people, so it is really a continuation.

The main difference is that it is not available on Amazon Prime but on FreeVee. This means it is still free to watch if you are a Prime subscriber, but it has adverts. I do not like this trend. Surely the whole point of subscribing to something is to not have adverts? So from the beginning I was against the principle of paying a subscription to then watch adverts – which you can’t skip. At least if you record of the TV you can fast forward through the ads.

It turned out that the adverts were not too bad. whenever there was a break there was a little timer at the bottom saying ‘programme continues in x seconds’ and the breaks were less than a minute, or even less than half a minute. The principle was annoying but the breaks themselves were short and infrequent.

And then I got to the end of season one and started watching season 2 and I noticed that the breaks were now more like 90 seconds long and there seemed to be more of them. The breaks are still shorter than on ITV or Channel 4, and certainly a lot shorter than on American TV but I can’t help but worry that by the time season three comes along there will be more breaks and they will be 2 or 3 minutes long each time. It is the way the trend is going.

Its like they reel you in with the promise of paying for un-interrupted viewing and then start introducing breaks. Maybe its a bit of a first-world problem, but its still not right.

And that reminds me of another thing that is starting to wind me up. Not Amazon-related this time, but it is advert-related. It is the adverts on podcasts. I don’t object to having advertising on podcasts. I appreciate that it costs money to produce them and that cost needs to be recovered somehow, but the way it is evolving is getting very irritating.

It started with a couple of ads at the start and end of podcasts like The Bugle, and that was fine. And then they started to get a couple of ads in the middle, which was bearable. The tipping point was when the adverts started repeating. Typically the podcast would start with an advert, then a second advert, and then the first advert repeated, and then the second advert repeated. It is the repetition of the same ads in the same break that is starting to get to me.

The worst case is in the short Top Stories podcasts from The Bugle. These are short episodes from old Bugles. They are only about 10 minutes of content but have 2 or 3 minutes at the start and end, and you can hear the same advert 4 times. There is no excuse for that, with a 10-minute podcast having as much advertising as a 40-minute podcast. The signal to noise ratio is getting too high.

All of this actually makes me happy when I stop to think about it. Life must be going pretty well if this is the worst I have to complain about. Five years ago I really thought I was going to die, and now the worst I have to cope with is a surplus of advertising and illogical offerings of cheap e-books, so I do have some perspective on all this, but it is still pretty bloody annoying.

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