Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last stupid picture me the year

I spotted these today in a cookshop, "Onion glasses" How sad is that?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Amazon starting early for Next Christmas?

I've heard of starting early shopping for Christmas but this is ridiculous! An email received this morning with gift ideas and stocking fillers...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Classic Road sign error - the problems of dual languages

I heard about this story on BBC radio 4, then found a picture of it on BBC News website

I sometimes need translations at work and we always struggle with agencies getting it mostly right. But in this example, the welsh on the sign reads:

"I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated"

Lesson to be learnt - always get translations double-checked

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New addition to the family

We've been talking about it for a while, but last Sunday Theresa and I met Harold, a Border Collie cross. we thought long and hard about it and have decided to give him a new home from next week.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

M4 stationary between Junction 6 and 5 Eastbound

Not the usual view of the motorway at night obviously been a oilor incident somewhere ahead and we have been stationary for about an hour so far

Friday, June 27, 2008

No real news, just an update

I realised that I haven't blogged much recently, just haven't had the time. And before any of you critics out there say to me - you haven't posted on your blog recently, I will just say in adavnce - where is your blog??

So what has been happening recently?

  • Moved house to Chorleywood and settling in nicely
  • Mum and Sheila came to visit and they were a great help with sorting the garden out - thanks!
  • Theresa has been working very hard with help from me on important stuff regarding Hannah's new school - fingers crossed
  • Sophie's summer fair last week, complete with circus - excellent fun
  • Daniel's summer fair this week, which should be fun - theme is "The Olympics"
  • trying to organise the regulars for this year's Fantasy Football auction - but t is a bit like herding cats
  • Watching some football, enjoyed the Germany v Turkey game
  • Thinking about a holiday, really must do something about booking that
  • Enjoying driving my car with the top down through all these lovely country lanes around Chorleywood
  • Work, work, work, work etc.

That will do for now, more soon, maybe...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Ikea Online - A long time coming but not worth the wait

After another pain/pleasure experience at shopping in Ikea this weekend, I thought I would try out their online site.

I noticed recently that you can now order online from their site, but unfortunately i wanted to buy wardrobes and you can order everything to go inside the wardrobe, but not the actual wardrobe frame - really useful.

So Theresa and I visited our nearest Ikea this weekend and found a very helpful chap in the wardrobe department who helped us design the wardrobes and all the accessories. Unfortunately, some of the thing we wanted were not in stock - but that's Ikea for you. So he printed out a very helpful list of items in stock and where to go in the warehouse to find them.

Off we went down to the outer region of hell known as the Ikea warehouse on Sunday afternoon. After losing our way several times and trying to find things that were not where they were supposed to, we were missing only one item, well 5 x one item - and of course - it was out of stock - despite what the computer thought, none were to be found.

After returning home I thought I would see if I could order the missing items online and was very pleased to see that I could - at first. it was when I started the registration and payment process that the major problem was discovered - and it was a big one. Expected delivery date of my items was 26 August 2008.

Yes that's right - August - almost 2 and a half months away.

So, Ikea listen up - if Amazon can deliver me an item I order today at 4pm by tomorrow 1pm, perhaps you should think about trying a bit harder.

Or maybe it is a deliberate strategy, offer an online service and make it look like you care about your customers, but not actually offer a service that anybody would actually want to use and save a lot of money with all that mucking around with supply chains and deliveries.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

George the Lobster

Gone to Alicante for the weekend and Theresa was introduced to George the Lobster. Thank you Ramon

Friday, May 09, 2008


First sign of Xmas 2008 in May!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Webhosting Problems leading to Blog problems

Having a bit of a row with my webhosting company and going through a painful transition. As a result some of my pictures hosted on one of my other sites are down, normal service will be resumed soon...I hope

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Snowman in Staines

Just had great fun playing in the snow with the kids. Snow is starting to melt now so not sure how long it will last

Snow finally in the South

After several previous warnings came to nothing and especially after this weeks mile weather I didn't really believe this weekends forecast. But this is the view out my bedroom window today. The kids are excited :-D

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Conclusion on my Heathrow Terminal 5 experience

So it was Day 1 at T5 and overall it was a good experience right up to the point I got to the gate:

  • Very easy quick access from new underground station to Departures
  • Beautiful light and airy building, very spacious very modern
  • Security was so quick you could have blinked and missed it
  • Unexpected transfer required to Gate B and C area, but that was quick and efficient small train
  • Gate B, again very light and airy
  • Then this is where the problems started. A couple of flights departed on time then nothing happened, no announcements, nothing on informatiuon screens, lots of people milling about.
  • finally after an hour of nothing - I heard "Last call for BA flight to Dusseldorf!" - no warning, no gate number, nothing, then a big rush by everybody to get on board

So 10 out of 10 for design, flow, ease etc.

But 0 out of 10 for information and punctuality.

I am flying back tonight, so we will see how that goes

But still late departures

You would think today of all days it would be on time. But it is 7.30 and no gates posted for any flight including mine due to leave now :-(

Very bright and airy

This is the view from Terminal 5 B gates looking over towards Terminal 4. The whole building is full of huge windows making it very sunny (and a bit difficult to read some of the information screens and TVs

Heathrow Terminal 5 view from B gates.

Wasn't aware there were separate buildings. Impressive view !

Unexpected extra journey

Via train transit for B gates at Heathrow terminal 5

Flying through Terminal 5 today.

So far an excellent experience. From tube to other side of security in just 7 minutes :-D

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A sad day - Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax dies

I just read online that Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax has died, aged 69.

Love it or hate it, lots of people played Dungeons and Dragons over the years and all the spin off games that owe so much to the original. I met some of my oldest and best friends through D&D and today's modern equivalents such as MMORPGs and 1st person shooter games also owe much to the vision of this man.

Now personally after playing for a few years, it started to really annoy me with all its inconsistencies, but it was still the first real attempt to formalise a coherent methodology of role play and we can't take that away from him. Plus if we hadn't had all those issues with the games we wouldn't have had so many long involved arguments, which at the time seemed so important and now I just look back on so fondly.

For those of you who read my blog and were there, some of my favorite RPG moments:

  • Bareg (aka Simon) falling off a tower so many damn times that he created a nice indentation in the ground
  • The Paladin whose name I can't remember (aka the late Richard Bould), Bareg and a rather nasty trap
  • Oh look there is a Catabl.................
  • Slippery Jim, (aka me) and the chair that turned into a door
  • The whole RPG experience that lead to Hirad Coldheart and The Raven

and in more modern times, I'll never forget:
  • The damned Dam
  • The tropical island with Jimi Hendrix sound effects
  • The swamp and discovering you can't lie down in it "Too Deep!

...amongst many others.

RIP Gary Gygax, you gave the world something unique

Friday, February 22, 2008

Reverse Auction Nuts TV Resolved

Another call back today from helpful chap at the company running the reverse auction. He was completely up front and told me that there was a system error which meant I was not notified when I was out bid.

As a gesture of good will he offered me an iPOD or £100 of Amazon vouchers and as I am a self confessed Appleophobe and Amazonophile I took the vouchers.

Its good to see that with a little persistence you can get a fair recompense for a genuine mistake, I'm happy.

p.s. He did want me to stress that they have a fantastic system and this is the first error of its kind caused by change over onto new servers etc etc. I hope so and I think that £100 is a fair price for some development QA work :D

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Update on Mobile Competition

Finally had a call back from the organisers of the mobile reverse auction for Nuts TV. They claim that I was outbid almost straight away and their system generated a message back to me - which I obviously didn't receive.

I was offered 10 free bids on the current auction running for a Plasma TV, but I pushed back and asked them to investigate further. As far as I am concerned I was notified that I was winning and never received anything to the contrary, so offering me £15 worth of free texts is poor compensation for an LCD TV worth over £300.

So they are digging some more and will get back to me soon

New Glasses

Just picked up some new glasses today and for the first time I decided to go for some rimless frames. It takes a bit of getting used too, not having a frame around and only seeing the hinges in my peripheral vision.

But I like them so far...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To Win or not to Win, that is the question, (or in this case the text message)

I was flipping around the channels late one evening the other week and strayed onto Nuts TV. Not the most intellectually challenging tv channel, but as I am a regular pub quiz goer, I stayed to watch their general knowledge quiz - (nothing to do with the contestants being scantily clad young women answering questions on a bucking bull until they get thrown off - honest).

Anyway, in the ad break, they promoted a competition to win a large LCD TV via a reverse auction by mobile phone and I reasoned that as this channel is:
  • hard to find and
  • rubbish
not many people would be watching and it might be worth a go.

So I sent in an entry and had a message back:

"Nuts TV: Congratulations! Your bid of 176p is currently the lowest unique bid! We will text you for free if this changes. Good luck!"

Now the compeition ended last Thursday and before that date, I had absolutely no more texts, so my reasonable expectation is I've actually won something. However, neither have I had any contact confirming I have won.

So, I found the competition T&Cs and managed to obtain a telephone number.

So far after three calls, I am none the wiser, but at least i now have a contact phone number and name of a person who seems to carer and has promised to get back to me. So watch this space...

mumbles to himself...."Now where is that number for Ofcom complaints..."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The First Project I Ever Worked on Online

A long time ago, in what feels like a far far away place and time, I left my job as Promotions manager for Dillons Bookstores and set up my own business as a freelance marketing consultant.

This was end of 1994 and I have strong memories of spending three days trying to configure this strange thing called Internet access and having to edit .ini files to make my 9600 baud modem work with my new Dell 25Mhz 486 PC.

Anyway, I started working on quite a few different book related projects and one of my clients was Jamie Hodder-Williams who was Marketing manager for Hodder & Stoughton. They were publishing a book called "Being Digital" by Nicholas Negroponte and I was helping to organise an event that the author would speak at. Jamie thought that since the whole book is about the Digital Revolution, we should put some pages on the Internet promoting the book and the event.

So I wrote some copy and I found a woman whose name I can't recall, Kim maybe, who put the pages live on the Internet for me.

I remember looking at these pages years later and thinking how basic they were, sadly I can't find them anymore and never took any screen shots.

So why this long ramble about my past, well Negroponte's name came up on the BBC news site today, talking about CES in Las Vegas and his "One Laptop Per Child Project"

Incidentally, in his speech, I remember him talking about two online projects that he thought were useful and interesting, one was "Yahoo", the first time I ever heard that name and the other one was Ringo a music recommendation service - you send an email with 10 albums and what you thought of each one. Sometime later you'd receive a list of things you might like along with a prediction of how much they think you'd like each one. Sadly that seems to have also died a death over the years, vaguely remember it changing into something called Firefly but lost track after that. the idea of course lived on and lots of systems out there now for recommendations, including StoryCode and BlogCode

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bloggers in Staines

By pure chance I found that in Blogger today if you go into a Bloggers profile and then click on location it shows you all the other Bloggers with the same location.

So I can see that on Blogspot, there are 77 other bloggers in Staines.

Here's the link if you want to see them. Can't see any logical order, so I wonder if it is in order of number of posts, in which case I am in the top 10 :)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Liverpool Capital of Culture, 2008

Just remembered that my home town of Liverpool is this year's European Capital of Culture.

So if you want to find out what that menas and what sort of events are going on, check out

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

Just a quick post on New Year's Day to mention that one of my resolutions this year is to post more often to this blog.

I've just been checking my analytics for the blog and can see that I am still attracting a lot of traffic out there for my posts about poor customer service, I hope I have been of some help publishing my experiences and will continue to add more throughout the year.

Other resolutions include:

  • Improve my French
  • Lose some weight
  • Write more fiction/short stories
  • errr, that's it so far

A bientot

p.s. Added one more link to my blogroll - Filippo Loretoni a work colleague from StepStone