I’ve always wondered what this blog is about. I say it’s personal, but so much is about the council it’s hard not to see it as a councillor blog. There’s not even much mention of politics on here, which strikes even me as a little strange.

But every now and again I find something that really isn’t council related and that I must post. This is one of those things.

I’m a bit of a digital hoarder, so I still have a copy of the hard drive from my old PC (I moved to a Mac in 2005). When I kept it there was obviously a value, there would be documents and files on there I might need to refer to. But five years on I’m going through deleting most of it and keeping anything that is still relevant.

And then I came across this:

It’s a PowerPoint template entitled “Motivating a Team”. It’s dated 1999, so I imagine that for a few years around the turn of the century groups would be gathered together and have to go through the Microsoft/Dale Carnegie formula for motivation. And it’s hard to imagine how it could go wrong: from “deliver an inspirational opening” to the “inspirational close” this is 10 slides of PowerPoint gold.

I’m a bit of a PowerPoint tyrant; some council officers will tell you of the arbitrary rules I apply to try to prevent the atrocious practices of excessive bullet points, reams of text and, worst of all, presenters reading from the slides while their audience is doing exactly the same.

Of course, presentation software can work well. You only need to see a Steve Jobs presentation or a few TEDtalks to know that. But when I see bundled templates like this I would happily see PowerPoint (though not Apple Keynote) outlawed and excessively harsh penalties imposed on anyone using it.

Of course I didn’t actually go to the library in my boxers*

But I have discovered that Wandsworth is lending ebooks. Not on any massive scale, and technically it’s the London Libraries Consortium rather than Wandsworth as such. But, whatever, there’s a smallish selection at library.wandsworth.gov.uk

As a geek I’m quite excited about it. But given how much places like Waterstones have been pushing ebook readers over the past year I can’t help thinking there must be others who would use the, thus far, unadvertised service.

The process is a little clunky, although that is largely a consequence of publisher restrictions rather then the libraries. And the selection is, shall I say, eclectic (I guess they need to have something to appeal to everyone, but I’m just not going to be borrowing anything by Jade Goody). And – again because of the publishers – you are limited to readers compatible with Adobe Digital Editions. But all that said I’ve still managed to get a couple of books in less time than it would take me to walk to my local library.

A small start, but is it the future of libraries?

* Actually, I did. Did you really think I’m the sort of guy who goes commando? I’m a Tory for God’s sake. Actually, what business of yours is my underwear?

Ages ago I – sort of – defended Cambridge City Council against the allegation they were ‘wasting money on iPads’. The story was that they were looking at spending thousands of pounds equipping their councillors with iPads to save money on printing.

My contention was that it was possible this would, actually, be a way of saving money and providing a better service to the taxpayer. Now, at a time when I am still a councillor, and have become an iPad owning councillor (not paid for by the taxpayer), the inevitable has happened and Leicester City Council have given some of their councillors iPads as a trial.

And I’ve changed my mind. It’s a waste of public money.

The story has appeared in a few national papers. I’ll point to the local paper’s coverage where a similar argument to my own back in February is being given. Apparently the £40,000 cost will potentially save the council £90,000 a year in printing costs. Now that, in itself, seems a little excessive. It would equate to £1,667 of printing per councillor per year. Even conservatively estimating a cost of 10p per double sided sheet we’re looking at over 33,000 pages of documents per councillor. That’s 90 pages of reading per day. While I get a lot of paper, I don’t get anything like that over a course of a year.

Even if that was accurate. It would have to be one of the least efficient bulk printing set-ups in the country. And does raise some questions. Would it be more cost effective to look at how they print? And who the hell is writing all this stuff? And who is actually reading it?

But there are broader concerns. Would the iPad actually help the councillors become more efficient? I suspect not. Much as I love mine (and am writing this on it), there are some things for which paper is just better. Are they seriously going to make notes on them, when it is so much easier to do on paper than on an iPad? Are none of them going to want to flick through reports, which isn’t as easy on a screen as it is with a wodge of paper? And are Leicester councillors really such a technophile bunch (in Wandsworth we’ve only just got a full set of councillors on email, in 2010) they are ready for electronic-only business?

But there is a more fundamental point behind all this. It’s the deficit.

Even if there were a strong argument for giving iPads to all their councillors it still smacks of providing them with toys at a time others are seeing job losses and cuts in services. While I often rail against the Daily Mail and Taxpayers Alliance mentality that any spending is necessarily bad I cannot help but agree with them on this one.

It’s very very hard to justify buying everyone top-of-the-range iPads (and they all seem to have gone for the top model – presumably to hold 60GB of documents, rather than music or films) at a time when we are all having to making savings. And if it’s difficult to justify financially, it’s near impossible to justify morally.

I don’t post personal topics that often. But today I can’t help myself.

While it seems the rest of the world are getting their new iPhones I, sadly, am not. This is largely HSBC’s fault, as they flagged my attempt to purchase one as fraud and I didn’t manage to get them to reverse their decision until after the initial stock had sold out.

(As as aside, it seems HSBC are a little trigger happy in spotting card fraud, someone told me of twice having their card stopped for suspicious transactions while on holiday, despite having told the bank they were going and someone else had the horror story of having their hotel cancelled while they were flying abroad because of HSBC’s fraud department causing a false alarm!)

The odd thing is that, as an Apple lover and self-confessed early adopter, it doesn’t actually feel bad. In fact, I’m not that bothered at all.

Some would say that HSBC was spot on and stopped me getting ripped off by an incredibly expensive phone. And perhaps they would be right. But the realisation that, actually, not getting it on launch day isn’t all that bad after all is a sign that I’m not as much of a geek as I perhaps thought and that does make me just a little sad.

I’ve probably spent more time wondering if I should post this video than I did making it (which wasn’t long). After all, what sort of person is it that does this? And what place does it have on this blog? No, it has nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with Wandsworth – but there are lots of places you can read about both of those.

As far as I know, however, this is the only place you can read about politics, Wandsworth and see a timelapse video of some camembert warming to room temperature.

At the end of the day, this is a personal blog, and I’m something of a geek on the side. I may as well admit that and take the consequences, if you decide to vote against me at the next council elections as result then so be it. But remember I was open and honest about my geek side, I bet the other candidates have all sorts of odd hobbies.

The video was shot using Gawker on a Mac. The overall video represents just over three hours (essentially, the software and cheese were working their magic while I hit the campaign trial on Monday night).

This video is also available on YouTube