Is Facebook Selling Your Data?

You ‘protect’ your physical privacy – why not your electronic?

We like our privacy in the UK. We build walls, fences and hedges around our homes. We pull our curtains tight shut at night; some will even go so far as to not answer their phones after a certain hour in the evening. We even have a saying – high fences make good neighbours. However – we appear quite happy for the world to potentially see us in our bathing suits, or for our ideas, thoughts and responses to be used to influence political campaigns. Where is the privacy now? And it’s not just the UK – if you use social media, wherever you live on planet Earth, someone, somewhere is pawing through your personal stuff!

BBC Radio, this morning, ran an article about the possibility that Facebook is selling your data to third parties. There are concerns about sharing data that goes beyond what is acceptable – what is acceptable may differ from country to country, person to person. It’s a minefield.

We have heard many tales about people; families, holidaying in foreign parts and discovering a photograph of themselves in shop fronts. It could be argued that when you sign up for Facebook, or other social media sites, that you agree to all their terms and conditions – but who really takes time to read the small print, honestly?

Cambridge_Analytica is a London based company that serves businesses and political parties who want to change audience behaviour and  it is your data that they have apparently been using to assist with their analyses.

Who hasn’t done a quiz, or questionnaire, or similar on social media? I know I have – whether to actually find something out about yourself, or for pure vanity, is neither here nor there. One quiz platform – ‘This is Your Quizzical Life’, agreed to hand over your data. You gave your consent – did you know that?

One of the questions being asked is – Did it use your Facebook data in the Trump campaign? Investigators believe they have given misleading information to social media users, and that tighter regulation is called for. Simply put – are you being exploited? Investigators are seeking to conduct a data audit,part of that investigation will pose the question – What is Facebook’s integrity?

How do you safeguard your information? Who, exactly, do they share your data with? Data Protection in the UK is pretty strong; so we are told. How secure are platforms like Facebook in actuality? I know I have posed questions and given no answers, but that’s the issue – how exactly do we deal with protecting personal data; including family photos, whilst at the same time, sharing with friends and colleagues? And it isn’t just your information, but all those connected with you through social media; friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances; that bloke across the other side of the world – if everyone doesn’t act to protect themselves, then the door, so to speak, is still open for the users.

We could all go down the draconian route, and delete all our social media accounts; not give these, let’s face it – huge – companies the opportunity to profit from our personal lives. But that ain’t going to happen. Or, we could do what Nicholas Waddell suggests in his article on The Sociable, and sell it yourself – you make the money instead of the companies!

In the meantime I would suggest – 1. Do not post any pictures at all. 2. Do not do any quizzes. 3. Do not share your political opinions.

But do remember – Your business, is their Business!

It’s not quite Netrunning – but they are already inside our heads!


Fiction Writing Opportunities

Hi there!

I’m in the process of editing a novella length story, writing a short Horror piece and a short Sci-Fi piece, plus some other stuff that may (or may not) happen. But I am still keeping my eyes open for other opportunities. I keep entering competitions, not necessarily to win anything, but more as a means to improve my writing. There are opportunities for writers all over the place, you just need to keep a look-out.

Sometimes you just want a writing prompt; for story writing. There are loads of bloggers who provide this, take a look on Twitter too!

Check out some of these:-

Add them to your Favourites and revisit monthly. Follow the instructions to the letter, this will help you, 1)Develop the habit of writing to specs; should you ever have to for money! 2)Writing to deadlines; should you ever have to for money!! £€¥

And don’t forget the good old fashioned magazine from the newsagents such as ‘Competitions: Guide 2018’, and look at the Notice Board in your local library.

Poets & Writers Magazine, from all good newsagents
Writing Magazine. Bestseller for opportunities/competitions.


But however you do it, keep on writing! 

How Do You Not Know That!?

We all read, see or hear stuff that makes our mouths drop. Common sense in society in general, seems to have taken a holiday. My daughter used to regularly come home from school and then college, with little quotes from her friends – and we would have a jolly good laugh at their expense – how did they not know that? Here’s a couple of things that bug me (what, another Alex? I hear you say) Yep!

Clothes need washing regularly. You filthy beggar! That’s what my mum called us when we had grubby kid hands. I was brought up in a time when laundry was done daily (I still do) and it was shameful to be grubby and/or smelly. There was a thread on Twitter a few months ago asking people how often they washed their jeans. Some responses were gag-making. ‘Once a month’! ‘Get them out laundry if nothing else to wear.’! Seriously, you’re going to shower your body and hair clean in the morning, and then put on dirty clothes?! I have seen people wearing coats with greasy streaks down the front; where they have wiped their hands. Coats needs washing too people. Fabric holds odours; cigarettes, food, you! Wash your clothes!

The laundry was becoming seriously unmanageable!


Take Vitamin D in winter This is a potentially serious issue for some people. Winter is a time when we in the UK see less sun than usual. Sunshine = Vitamin D. If you have darker skin and you live in Europe, chances are you’re going to need to take Vitamin D supplements – or you may be putting yourself at risk of rickets. A recent tragic news story in UK news, told us how a baby died of rickets at less than a year old. He was black of black parents – I do not understand why her GP had not recommended she take vitamin D supplements during her winter pregnancy. Black skin does not absorb D from sunshine as readily as white skin, and in a dull place like UK, precautions should be taken.

Take care of your beautiful self during times of little sunshine.


Clouds move – No, seriously. The conversation went something like this:-

Girl(looking out of window)- “Oh my God, the clouds are moving!”

Staff (raises eyebrows)- “Are you kidding?”

Girl- “No, the clouds are moving. I didn’t know clouds move.”

Staff – “You’re telling me, that you’ve lived on planet Earth for 16 years and never noticed the clouds moving?”

Girl -”No.”

Staff – “…”

‘Cumulus Nimbus’ Big Moving Day – and other stories.’


Crisps and Pop for breakfast = BAD. I am sure I’m not the only person who has seen the kids on their way to school in the morning eating crisps. When my daughter was in Primary school, there was a kid who I saw eating a bag of crisps and drinking a small bottle of pop at least once a week. College students have freedom to buy whatever they want with their money, some do fine, but others just buy crap. And who is feeding them? The parents! How does anyone, in this day and age, not know that salt and sugar are bad for us – especially everyday for breakfast. How can any parent not know to give their child a good start to the day in the form of toast or porridge or cereal or fruit? There is plenty of information for parents these days – I’m sorry, but there is no excuse.



Spitting is not only disgusting – Its a health hazard. I’m getting quite pissed off with asking then telling people not to spit. It seems to be a growing habit in the area I live; especially amongst young males, and the occasional female. Spitting carries disease as well as germs. We had eradicated TB in this country – now it’s on the rise again! People might want to put their bags on the floor, and there’s gob everywhere (especially in smoking shelters). Guide dogs walk in it! Wheelchair users get it on their hands! It moves at speed spreading droplets into the air as it flies to the ground. It is gross! And unhealthy! And offensive to see and hear!

Footballer, Jamie Carragher, spitting at member of the public. Dirty boy!


Smaller birds aren’t babies of bigger birds! This was one of my daughter’s friends things. Walking at the beach one sunny day watching the birds peck about, the friend made a comment about the ‘baby birds’. Turns out she thought that the pigeons were the gull’s babies!!!!!! I seriously wondered what was going on in her head.

What!? It’s not my baby. It’s dinner!


Slugs are NOT snails without shells! Overheard small boy and his friend.

Boy – “Look! There’s a snail without a shell.”

Girl – “That’s a slug, Jake. They don’t have shells.”

“Morning Gary.” “Morning Simon.” “On you way home from a late night again!?”


Seriously, I can’t believe some of the things people just don’t know!

This Week I Have Been Mostly Listening To…

Image result for thunder rock band


The ‘Challenge Alex’ experiment continues. This weeks suggestion comes from Jack. When I asked what genre of music this was I was told it is a kind of Heavy Metal/Rock. Despite having been around for approximately 28 years, I had never heard of this group. Described by Wikipedia as an English hard rock band from London. Formed in 1989, many of their albums are sold under the genre Metal. Thunder is this weeks challenge.

N.B: this is NOT a review – it’s simply an experiment in expanding my listening tastes.

What I listened to –

1. River of Pain

What does it sound like to me? Rocky. Not exactly hard! Some typical guitar solo and predictable drum n bass rhythm.

Did I like it? Was inoffensive, and uninteresting.

2. She’s So Fine

What does it sound like to me? Deep Purple anyone? Sounds to me like a poor man’s imitation of Deep Purple and AC/DC combined. Good vocals from Danny Bowes. I had the strange feeling that a tiny amount of Country Rock had snuck in there at points.

Did I like it? Nope.

Thunder in their hirsute days.

3. A Better Man

What does it sound like to me? This is not Hard Rock! The writer must have been listening to C&W again – and that harmonica!? Why? A little guitar riff stolen from The Who thrown in there too.

Did I like it? Absolutely hated it.

4. Low Life in High Places

What does it sound like to me? A little slappy guitar, sad vocals. Not until halfway through does it turn into, what I recognise as, real Rock music; gravelly voice, heavy drums, whining guitar.

Did I like it? No.

5. In a Broken Dream

What does it sound like to me? Soft Rock/Pop. Oo, an organ! Intro has a little of the 70s influence going on, then dreary vocals; despite the effort to sound like Robert Plant (that ain’t gonna happen!) Makes me think of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar- Gethsemane song – but less emotional.

Did I like it? Meh.

Still from ‘Dirty Love’ video shoot, 1989


6. Preaching from a Chair

What does it sound like to me? Rock/Pop. There is a maturity here which was missing from the previous pieces. Can imagine this used on a TV crime show. There’s the organ in the background again, albeit briefly, but the solo guitar returns the piece to teenage-boydom.

Did I like it? Best so far. But like it? Not much.

7.Right From the Start

What does it sound like to me? I get the feeling they were trying to get this used as opening theme for James Bond; that kind of Rock!! More love song stuff. Some typical guitar riffs. Dull rhythm.

Did I like it? Not really (and I’m trying to be nice here!)

8. Resurrection Day

What does it sound like to me? Rock. Thump-drum-cymbal-over-and-over-dum-cha-dum-cha-dum-cha-dum etc…

Did I like it? Yawn

9. Broken

What does it sound like to me? Like I want to cry out – “Where’s this Hard Rock I was promised!” Broken hearts and tambourines -bleurgh!

Did I like it? No!

10. No One Gets Out Alive

What does it sound like to me? Rock. Finally! Some good solid beats and strings. Typical sounding ‘old style’ rock, decent lyrics, obligatory guitar solo, a little thrashing, strong vocals. Nothing new here.

Did I like it? I didn’t hate it!

Image result for thunder rock band
Thunder. Photo from Times Free Press

To round-up – I won’t be listening to Thunder again. Why? Because it’s boring and other bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, do it better. Reading that they were classed not only under the Rock, but Metal genre, I struggled to find anything ‘metallic’ about any of it. For supporters of the group, I would remind you that the point of this’experiment’, was for people to challenge my listening habits, get me out of my comfort zone – rattle me, make me struggle, make me make an effort. So far, not a single suggestion has done that – least of all Thunder! Was it challenging? No, not at all. Not so much Thunder, as a rain-shower.

I just wrote to say…

Good morning to all my followers
Good Morning Followers

How many Followers a blogger has is all relative. How many Followers actually read posts? How many bloggers and Followers communicate with each other? How current or ‘on trend’ a bloggers posts are may depend on the subject matter – lists, we are told, are always popular, but specialising in the life cycle of bugs may not be so much.

It is easy to write in a ‘bubble’. But I believe, as I did when I was a visual artist, that the post isn’t complete without an audience response (and that response may sometimes be silence!)

I am always delighted when someone comments on a post, or I get a new Follower – and I tell my husband – and he says, with not a small amount of incredulity – “These people actually go out of their way to ‘hear’ you rant and make inane comments? I get it daily without making an effort!”

So, to all of you who read my ‘inane comments and rants – a BIG Thank You! Some of you are reading via WordPress and have blogs yourselves, some of you are reading via e-mail, and some just trip over this nonsense accidentally…

Top 10 Blogger, Stuart , Darth, unceasingmoviereview, robbo, shannon, Emily , loicbellet, dpapa, onlinecashmethod, therverguys, Damien , educationrickshaw, haydn, Richard , TheMillennialTwinMom, messymapmaker, Adam , pointhacksandfamilytravel, simple Ula, jazzizzin, Karen, The Godly Chic Diaries, David, silicasun, facetioussoup , Josiah , Melanie , simplepowerful, Zan, Misfit, gemminess, keith, francis and anna, Mugilan , MladenR, Abhinav, chinesedecomposition, Nusrath, theheartsphere,vonj , sheila, chrisa.b, ej, al, paul, ann, ecm, ripo, mike, bam…

And everyone else not mentioned (because the WP page won’t scroll down!)



PDA Syndrome



*May contain images offensive to some people *

I had a funny conversation with friends last night. They are a married couple and were complaining about public displays of affection – PDA. When they were going on holiday last summer, a young couple in front of them were doing some heavy snogging –  what my friends regard as ‘heavy snogging’ compared to me, or anyone else is all relative.

ME: “Was it open-mouthed?”

HIM: “Yes!”

ME: “Tongues?”

HER: “Ew, yes. It was gross!”

No PDA here.

I laughed, maybe they were very much in love, or going on honeymoon, I suggested. Whatever, I thought my friends’ outrage funny. So I posed a series of questions – How much PDA is too much? And here, I am not talking about the rare instances when a couple feel they have to go into the realms of extreme – like this couple –

Serious case of PDA. What were they thinking?!

Holding hands – Fine, no problem.

Arms around each other – Okay.

Kissing on the cheek – Fine.

Kissing on the lips – Hmm, no.

Squeezing a partners buttocks – No!

Full on deep kissing – Absolutely not!

HIS addendum was; if the show of affection was politically motivated – ie: two gay men/women at a Gay Pride event, or similar, did this, then he could accept that it was done with purpose. But stepping out of a store onto the street to find a couple enjoying a grope and a bit of mouth action – No Thank You!

I told them they were too English. We do have a reputation for being rather restrained and ‘stiff upper lipped’. And apart from when we get steaming drunk and everyone is a friend, we tend to be reserved about emotions – especially affectionate ones!

Why do we feel uncomfortable when we see a couple engaged in PDA? As long as they aren’t getting naked and having full on intercourse or doing heavy petting in the park, then shouldn’t we be more accepting? Is it about etiquette and good manners? Does the sight of an older couple kissing spark revulsion more than if it were a young couple – or vice-versa?

Public Affection can be sweet.

Does the public space make a difference? I asked my anti-PDA friends, what if there is a couple kissing deeply under a tree in a moonlit Paris? That was fine apparently. What about Hyde Park? No! One of my friends is a high school teacher and occasionally encounters a couple of students kissing in the corridor, when she tells them to stop and they query her, her response is great: “Would you want to see Mr and Mrs Finnegan( a married couple) kissing around the school?” They would not, is the reply – so don’t you do it!

Tongues on a Train – the follow-up to Snakes on a Plane!

I know there are countries around the world where PDA are taboo; if not illegal. I read comments from the British Middle Classes calling PDA ‘repellent’ and ‘ghastly’. I think they/we need to get over ourselves. But I wondered where in the UK were we most and least demonstrative with affection. Should public displays of affection be banned? Some people think so!

A quick kiss in Kerala 

Londoners appear to dislike it the most. Nottingham likes a bit of public romance. Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff like a street smooch. I couldn’t find any solid statistics – though I have to admit I didn’t search that hard – but I did find lots of articles calling for less shows of affection in the UK; even light kissing.

Personally, I don’t care if it’s ‘showing off’, or over the top. If a couple feel the urge to express their romantic inclinations then I think it’s lovely. Maybe if more people were snogging and squeezing each others bums and being affectionate, we wouldn’t have all the discourse, wars and aggression and so forth. Of course there need to be some boundaries, but so long as bedroom activities aren’t in public, then what’s the harm?

Next time you balk at PDA, ask yourself two questions –

1.Would you rather they were fighting?

2. Aren’t you just a teensy bit jealous?!

One of the most iconic images of PDA. VJ Day picture taken by Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt  on August 14, 1945

Let’s Play Dungeons and Dragons!

Running a D & D Game Is Much Like Writing a Story

I was recently asked by some young uns, how to go about playing Dungeons and Dragons.

There is literally tons of stuff out there for new adventurers; books, gaming stores, not to mention the dragons horde of information on the internet! In the past, everything had to be written down; by hand! I have kept quite a lot of my campaigns and characters, but I have also dumped a lot over the years.

DM-ing with the advent of computers!!!!

But starting out fresh can be daunting, and this group were all ‘newbies’, none had played and none had acted as DM. How to help? By the way, I am talking about old-school, table top role playing game here, not online.

Okay, so first things, let’s get that idea out of your head about the ‘typical’ D and D gamer – we don’t all look like the cast of Stranger Things or The Big Bang Theory – see my post Why You Should Play Dungeons and Dragons; February 15, 2017. I have been playing for 30 years; so not a teenager!

Initially, we had one DM (Dungeon Master) and he was the boss, in charge, god almighty as far as the players were concerned. All games came from bought modules, all games were set in dungeons, all floor-plans were bought pieces. All decisions were the DM’s and the final word was his alone. Not any more.

What I recommend if you’re just starting out –

  • Get everyone in group to read at least something of the basic rules. Don’t give one person the responsibility, or the power! Go and look at this site for EVERYTHING:
  • Maybe start with a bought module – or find one online. N.B:only the DM will have access to all of this.
D and D ready made game – there’s plenty out there.
  • Dice – you will need as a starter pack – 1 six-sided, 1 four-sided, 1 eight-sided, 2 ten-sided and 1 twenty sided. You need 2 ten-sided (2d10) as you will be rolling percentages sometimes. N.B: some people become obsessed with collecting dice, and still can’t find the right one when it’s time to roll!!
  • Figures, you need little people. These can be bought from specialist shops, or again, online. Why not hold a miniature painting session before beginning a campaign!
“Look! Over there! More tiny people!”
  • Get a blackboard; you really do not need to pay for little packs of card corridors, rooms and caves. Draw it as it happens. You can create aerial views, maps and plans, draw objects in elevated view if verbal description not working.
Player: “Whats that?” DM: “A boat! It’s a boat! FFS!”
  • Character sheets, try and get all players to make them the same, you can find templates in D & D books or online. We have kept pretty much to the original design for 3 decades.
  • Use your laptop if you can’t describe stuff – there are billions of images you can find on the internet, this will help create the ambience for your players; “You round the corner and your bullseye lantern picks out this only two feet away!” *show them picture of hideous creature.
  • I do recommend you buy a copy of the D & D Players Handbook; General Info as well as the D & D Players Handbook; Magic Users. Ours fell apart and mutated into folders – but – they’re still the same one’s from years ago that we use – it’s all we need.
Players Handbooks
  • A box to store your crap – dice, figures including NPC’s (none player characters), pencils, erasers, chalk, board wipe, post-it notes (I have these so players or DM can pass private messages – you don’t always want everyone knowing what you’re going to do).
Any old box will do to store the accoutrements that WILL build up.
  • Start with a small campaign. Games can last as long as you like, but if you don’t plan they can drift for months (even years!) aimless and endless and ultimately boring. Based on playing one game night per week of approximately 4 hours, have it last two months tops. Being DM can be hard work – which is why everyone needs to learn the rules and not rely on this individual.
  • Don’t be afraid to look up rules as you go along – we still do this, in fact, we had one player who could never remember which dice to roll whenever he needed to make a roll. Keep your D & D rules handy, keep the Magic Users manual on the table too – no-one can ever remember which spell does what and for how long.
  • Discuss, don’t argue. There is nothing more destructive to a new gaming group than arguments. People get very passionate about their characters, and if the DM is perceived as being too draconian and kills everyone off, then you’re not going to want to play again.
  • DM is the Dungeon Master, who will run the campaign and also voice the NPC’s as well as adjudicate the game. Probably best to have someone who doesn’t mind remembering more rules than everyone else and taking responsibility; for at least your first few games.
  • Rules are made to be broken, this is tough. You might have a player who is quite the expert on certain weapon types and brings this reality into the game; “My ranger should be able to shoot down the Drow elf with a single shot as the crossbow fires at 200 mph and it’s tip can penetrate…” yadda, yadda, yadda. WE KNOW, but this is a game and sometimes the damage and range of some weapons seems a bit off. The melee and weapons are designed so you won’t die straight away – if you want to kill the NPC’s with a single blow, then the DM is well within his/her rights to make NPCs that do the same!!! However – if you all think a particular rules stinks, then change it – so long as you are all in agreement.
  • Most importantly – have fun!

Running a D & D Game Is Much Like Writing a Story

After a while, you might want to write your own campaigns, we do. We each take turns to DM, which means it keeps things fresh. It also means that you know everything about the story, because you wrote it! When you decide that you want to try creating your own campaign, please realise this isn’t a light undertaking. It takes time, you must do research; because you know one player will ask what Counsellor so-and-so looks like, whats the written language, where can I buy such-and-such, How tall is this, how wide is that etc, etc. You are writing a story that the gamers are taking roles in, each quest should have a beginning, middle and end (at least in your own mind). Make the first one simple, for example – information from bartender is that there’s bandits in them thar hills and there’s a reward for their leaders capture.

If there is one piece of advice I would give wannabe DM’s its this –

you aren’t god, you’re entertaining the others!

Characters are always worth a revisit.