Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Crossy 1 Sky 0

I am pleased to announce that I scored a massive victory over Sky TV today and am feeling pretty damn chuffed I have to say.

For the second time in 5 months my Sky+ HD box, prized possession and source of all sport failed miserably.  Not just loss of signal, but now complete and utter, not even responding meltdown. Now, the last box I got cost £65 for a replacement - not enjoyable, but hey, we'd had the other for 2 yrs and I thought not bad, and certainly better than forking out £299 after all.  The new box however was only guaranteed for 3 months...rubbish....another £65!

Cutting a long story short I spent 45 minutes arguing that the box should last more than 5 months and being told that I had no option - £65 or cancellation (and they were happy for me to cancel!). £130 each year for new sky boxes on top of the 50 odd quid a month subscription - daylight robbery.

Solution? Consumer Direct run by the OFT. Sky don't like it when you start talking about consumer rights (i.e. the right for a service/product to be fit for service EVEN if out of warranty) and scheduled a free call out for the day after tomorrow!! Worth remembering for the future as there are also some nice guidelines on there about how to complain (stay calm now!!). There are loads of forums online with advice about getting Sky call outs for free so don't pay for it if it happens to you.

In other exciting news, we've got another blog on the go - The ECT (Enterprise Computing Team) Celebrity Spotting Blog AKA "I've Just Seen Ray Stubbs". Go and have a look and all will be revealed :)

I am resolving to write less content more often rather than every few weeks - keep thinking of stuff to write then go and forget so hopefully shorter, more frequent bursts might be the way forward. Speaking of which I have really got back into Twitter recently - click here to follow me.

Watch out for them others...

Sunday, 28 September 2008

New camera!

During my recent trip to California I picked up a Canon PowerShot G9, a compact camera with many of the functionalities of an SLR (aperture and shutter priority + a couple of other things). Having found that the 350D can be a bit of a mission to carry around all day, the G9 makes a good compromise between a tiny (and often useless) compact, and the big dawg.  The limitation is obviously that it doesn't have tons of lenses you can stick on the front, however you can buy a wide angle and a telephoto (link), although frankly you would be hard pushed to need more than the optical + digital zoom already provided. I will definitely be investing in the wide angle though as have got used to having the 17mm on the DSLR which is great for landscape shots. 

I heard they took the G9 out of production which means it is likely that the G10 is on the way (in October as it happens) - 

typical (i bought my wife an ipod nano in LA too, new one came out 3 days later....). Although they have boosted it to 14.7mp, it will also weigh in at an extra 30g, totally 350g, not an inconsiderable weight....

Anyway, here's a few examples of the images that it can churn out - the whole lot can be found on my Flickr site though, so go visit that too.

I've also recently discovered Blurb, a publishing service that allows you to make books (not just photo books, but actual books too if you want).. They are a recently added AxiCom client so I have to put my hand up to a bit of a plug but I am genuinely creating a book at the moment using the service. The nearest equivalent in terms of quality would be Bob Books, however they STILL don't have a Mac client which is ridiculous really. The Blurb client is pretty thin (approx 40mb) and downloads so you can do everything offline before ordering it up... so far it is great but painstaking. The book I am making is of our Honeymoon trip to Nepal and I took a LOADS of photos so it might take me a little while.  However I can definitely see Blurb being used for many xmas presents this year - prices start at about £15 I think. Check it out!

Watch out for them others...

Friday, 5 September 2008

Hot hot hot

S'been a while, so much has happened!

Firstly kitesurfing - awesome fun, but totally destroyed me. The upper body strength required to actually keep the thing in the air was immense - learnt on a 7m then switched to a 12m for the day trying to get on the board.  Got serious unintentional air on the second day. Seriously dude, it was like totally gnarly - I was here, then I was there (12ft in the air) then I was dumped - whiplash ahoy. Definitely recommended for anyone with 1) a house nr the sea or 2) good at windsurfing/snowboarding/wake boarding. We went with these guys (FC Watersports Academy) - site seems to be down but they were v professional and definitely worth the money.

Now, anyone else totally disagree with this??? - how can the FA (or NFC) justify allowing Joey Barton to continue playing football. RANT BEGINS: footballers, although many don't act like it, are in an incredibly privileged position - they earn a packet, they are idolised by today's yoof and yet they can get away with beating people unconscious. He's hardly served his time?!?! He knocked a fellow player out - not that it would be an excuse but they guy wasn't even on an opposing team!! WTF!? This ridiculous "respect" campaign is going to go nowhere if the FA don't eject thugs (CONVICTED thugs) like Barton from the football profession. If I walked into work and beat a colleague unconscious, I think I'd be facing a little more than a 6 day ban from work on full pay (approx £80K upwards a week for Barton I would think).  Not only that, I very much doubt I would receive the support of my boss as Keegan has done for Barton. It's a disgrace. No wonder our country is in such a mess - when convicts, bullies and thugs are effectively rewarded for their actions it is no wonder that kids today think they can get away with a beating here or a shanking there.  Someone in the FA please stand up and sort this out - he's got to go, if not to prison then certainly to some kind of institution, stories like this will become more common place unless examples are made. RANT OVER

This week I have had the pleasure of attending the Quova sales conference in sunny Cupertino, California. It's down the road from San Francisco and San Jose (at which airport I am writing this entry from) - we stayed in the hotel that the conference was in, The Cypress - recommended for the leopard print robes and excellent service if you are in the bay area. Also good access to the rest of the valley. 

My first time to the valley and it has been quite weird.  Where you expect high rise glass you get lots of single story blocks - and I mean lots, like millions.  Anyway, there were loads of v interesting people talking at the conference about the importance of location. Whilst I don't want to straight pitch my client in my blog, there are some genuinely useful things you can do when you know where your web visitors come from.  Advertising online for instance has been (and will be further) revolutionised by being able to target specific geographic areas. Where once the internet was a facless, geo-less void, it is now a trace-able and (if it is a word) monetisable world. Ever wondered how the world's biggest search engines return localised results to you? Quova! Go have a look...

Off to the LAX shortly to meet an ex-Bromley boy recruiter - funny how it all works out :)

Watch out for them others (especially if you are in San Jose airport - there's freaks everywhere!!!!)

PS - go check out Navizon and download their mobile app - wifi and cell triangulation - GPS without the GPS - cunning eh?

PPS - shout out to Kris K and Catherine and Nicole from SF, thanks for taking us out!!!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

It's done and dusty

Thank the Lord, the decorating is finished. And I have to say that I am not disappointed. Is there anyone that enjoys it? I have total respect for painter decoraters - they must be pretty fit as we have been seriously aching after a full day's painting.

The bike has seen no action of late as the weekends have been wiped out - but with the painting done, hopefully that means I can get back out soon.  However, the more I see (check this out, seriously cool) the more I realise I need an all-mountain bike (like my favourite Trek Remedy 9) and not a XC like the Kona Kikapu I have now.  It's a great bike but in hindsight I should have got a cheap road bike to get to the station in the morning and then a true all-mountain beast for thrashing it round Limpsfield Chart. On a seperate note, I am seriously thinking about approaching The National Trust to see if they would consider using some of the land for some purpose-built mtb areas... not sure where to start though so if anyone has any ideas, let me know!

Finally, after much planning, next weekend is Kite Surfing weekend :) Almost as good as these guys from the latest PKRA round in S America - cool vid. Will post photos of it soon!

Watch out for them others...

PS - if you want to activate your compost heap, do this - it really helps!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Just a thought...

...but babies seem like a lot of work. Take my new nephew, Sam Chandler (see pic) for instance. Yes, he's very cute, but my gawd can he wail. But in the life of a baby, what else is there to do? Is there any choice? Any babies out there reading this feel free to let me know. My earliest memories were falling off a climbing frame and breaking my arm and around the same time, having to stay in at lunchtime during nursery with a boy who had lodged a piece of Lego up his nose....those were the days.

In other news, I've downloaded new apps for the iPod touch - ahead of a poker tourno that I'm hosting this weekend I got the "HoldEm" Poker game (that's the only link I can find but go to the App Store for the iPhone/Touch version) - well worth it if you are thinking of investing. Cool controls to throw your cards away as well as go "all-in", although does anyone else think that the battery life is somewhat lacking?? If I play constantly on my way to and from work (that's a 2 hr round trip) the thing is dead. Ditto with Super Monkey Ball - cool games but awfyul battery life. Can't help wondering how long the battery will last before I have to send it back for a refresh.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the iPod Touch and will be getting a 3G iPhone as soon as I can, but it's little things like that which might put me off... not that there is anything better out there.

Lastly, did anyone see this cool offer from 3 - free laptops!! Ewan MacLoed who I met last week with a client, covers it all here - check it out!

See ya, and watch out for them others.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

More Bike P0rn + iPod App Store

Couldn't resist this - another amazing bike, this time from Santa Cruz, the new nomad being released today.

The guys at Bike Radar have got a great review up on the site so go check it out.

I also downloaded the new update for my iPod Touch and all looks pretty cool to start with. Hopefully I'll get twittering and blog directly from the wee touchy screen soon.

Watch out for them others...

Sunday, 13 July 2008


...is never ending. That's it really. Quite bitter that I couldn't go for a burn on the bike today because the sodding garden needs 24 hour care - or at least that's what it feels like. I'm thinking that one of these might therefore be worth the £2,000 - a robot that does a few things round the garden. Quality.

Unfortunately I would much rather put £2,000 towards my latest must have item - a Trek Remedy 2008. Looks amazing.

Better go check for some coinage down the back of the sofa to kick off the savings...

Watch out for them others.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Blog Mk. 2

OK, so the last time didn't work out but... this time it's back and hopefully slightly better. I just need to figure out the best time and place to get this online each day/week I think. If anyone has any ideas then let me know. Could really do with Wi-Fi on the train as that would mean I could blog on my way in to Barnes each day.

So anyway, some things I might cover on this blog in no particular order: mountain biking, technology, PR, photography, life in rural Surrey, life on Southern Trains, life...

Why bother? Well I was reading an ex-colleague's blog and it struck me that working in my position in tech PR, it would be a sin not to, and further to that, I sometimes feel that I should get a few things off my chest and there isn't always someone who wants to listen. The black hole of the internet could be the perfect place to shout.

Thanks for reading and watch out for them others.

PS - here is a photo of near where I live. It's not like this everyday...