ecommerce Engineer internet ipv6

NANOG 66 is in San Diego by the sea @LONAP

NANOG 66 – bring your shorts

One of the downsides perhaps of being in the internet plumbing industry is that your Facebook timeline constantly fills up with people  off to conferences in exotic places. Even when they aren’t off to a meeting people are still off to exotic places as they spend their air miles. This week it’s NANOG 66  in San Diego.

San Diego is one of the nicest places you can choose to go to a conference. The other popular destination is Hawaii. I’ve done San Diego but not Hawaii. In fact I tend to avoid conferences that involve long haul travel these days because it’s hard enough submitting your body to a week of conference talks, corridor meetings and the follow on eating and drinking without throwing jet lag into the mix.

Out of curiosity I took a look at the NANOG Facebook group and the NANOG website. The first thing that hit me on Facebook was a comment that told me there were 1002 people signed up for the conference. That’s a lot of people. So many people that you have to figure out how to make the most of the fact that they are all there. The value in these meetings tends not to be in the actual conference material but in the people that attend.

This brings me to my second observation. The list of Platinum Sponsors, organisations that have paid $100,000 to sponsor the three events in the year, includes a business called Addrex. Addrex are an IP address broker. That’s a serious chunk of change they have invested in marketing by becoming a NANOG sponsor. It just goes to show how much money there must be in the IPv4 address game.

internet traffic growthI am more familiar with Sandra Brown and the IPv4 Market Group who very generously sponsored the LONAP dinner last month. LONAP usually sends a couple of people to the NANOG meetings because they are very good recruiting grounds for new members. Most of our big members have come on board as a result of relationships developed at such meetings.

If you are in NANOG this week do take the opportunity to look up Will Hargrave and Richard Irving who will be there representing us.

Business ecommerce google

The local wide web and the Rangemaster cooker service

Rangemaster cooker service – does your cooker need one? is back in action for 2016 after a very refreshing Christmas and New Year break. Most of you who are friends on Facebook will have seen what I’ve been up to and you can follow my daily non-work-ish diary over on In the meantime I offer you a short not too onerous post on web presence and Rangemaster cooker service.

We have a Rangemaster cooker. For the uninitiated the Rangemaster has two ovens, a grill, five gas jets and a hot plate. It is extremely useful kit for a family with four kids. This is especially the case at Christmas but before the festive season kicked in we had a problem with one of the ovens not working properly. How on earth does one manage with only one oven at Christmas? I’m not sure it is doable.

So one day I got to “get cooker fixed” on my jobslist and did a search for “Rangemaster cooker service Lincoln”. Google came up with a very comprehensive looking site that said it had engineers in our area. It looked a bit too comprehensive for sleepy ole Lincoln and my suspicions were aroused.

I then did the same search replacing “Lincoln” with “Brighton” and came up with the exact same site but this time portraying itself as a local to Brighton. Now there’s nothing wrong with a business being able to do this. It’s making great use of tinterweb to generate business opportunities. However when I’m looking for a cooker repair man I want a competent local guy who can do me a good job at a fair price without involving layers of middlemen and commissions.

The website was ignored and I popped into the local Aga gaff thinking they were the same company. There didn’t do Rangemaster but the guy gave me the name of a man who can. I rang the man and he came around the next day to advise me that I needed a new regulator (sucks in teeth).

Now whilst there is a place for location independent services on the www we have to remember that there are some times when all we want is to be able to pick up a good old fashioned (VoIP) phone and call the bloke down the road for help. The local wide web.

Happy New Year y’all…

Oh btw apparetly cookers don’t get serviced. They get repaired – there’s nothing to service. Also here’s a tip for you. Don’t put cast iron bits off the gas rings in the dishwasher. They get corroded and hinder the spark lighting function.

Also the real point to this post is that local firms need to start thinking about how they market themselves online. Innit.

rangemaster cooker repair brighton

Apps ecommerce End User

Oyster refund yay?

Yay an Oyster card refund

I’m rich! No wait a minute…

Dear Huw Davies

Due to an operational issue, you are due a payment of £2.90. This is now ready for collection at Camden Town.

Payment correction details:
Reason: Payment correction because of an operational issue
Value: £2.90
Reference: 5272976
Collection location: Camden Town
Status: Ready for collection with Oyster card number 12345678910

To collect your payment, touch your Oyster card on a yellow reader at the location shown above when you start a journey.

Please keep your Oyster card number safe. You may need to quote it if you call TfL Customer Services(0343 222 1234).

The only problem with this refund is that I have to go to Camden Town to get it and guess how much that would cost me on the tube? Assuming I am already in Central London. I have probably been to Camden three times in the last five years.

I didn’t even know I had been overcharged. I guess some people do look at their Oyster card credit. I only need to know when it has nearly run out. Why can’t they just credit the card number?

Bit pathetic really innit?

I also have to announce a change in my train ticket collection policy. Having this year lost a couple of tickets and not been able to get replacements I’ve discovered a partial solution. If I opt for “print at home” then if I lose the ticket I can just reprint it.

Now the only problem is that the tickets this year have been lost on the hoof, whilst travelling and therefore nowhere near a printer. The ideal solution is eticketing but in the absence of this very obvious technology at least with print at home I can bring up a pdf (presumably) to show the ticket inspector I have something in the way of a right to be on the train.

That’s all for now folks – at the Euro-IX meeting in Berlin. I may write something up later but it is more likely to be about the social rather than any actual work content.

Auf wiedersehen (pet).

Business business applications ecommerce

Slightly confused of Lincoln

HP printer delivery either 09.13 or 13.56

You see before you a bewildered bloke. One where there is a risk of extremes of emotions on this, a pleasant if slightly breezy English summer’s day. My HP printer delivery is either going to be at 09.13 or 13.56.

HP printer deliveryComing out of the pool changing room this morning my pocket vibrated. It was a text message from DPD saying that my HP printer delivery will be executed (word chosen to startle, albeit momentarily) by Ian between 09.13 and 10.13 this morning. Impressivo I thought. Just time to get home and eat my banana.

Munching away at said banana at the breakfast table I logged on to the DPD website to see if I could physically see where Ian was. Confusingly the website told me that it wasn’t Ian coming but Dean. Wosgoinon I thought! The next minute  second text came in confirming that indeed Dean was the logistics operative entrusted with the delivery of my new printer. Not use of word delivery instead of execute. Gotta mix it up.

Now there are a number of possible scenarios that could explain this sitch:

DPD, on behalf of HP may have made a simple mistake in allocating the job to Ian. Ian may not actually be in today – annual leave or maybe even off sick. For Ian’s sake lets hope it isn’t the latter. Ian may also have enthusiastically shot off leaving the HP parcel behind. He may even have said “That’s too heavy for me with my bad back. Let Dean take it”.

It may also be that HP have erroneously shipped two printers and they have been shipped separately. In this case I’d probably be able to sell one of them on eBay. Result.

doorbell rings

That was Ian at the door with my part shipment. Everything but the printer itself! Ian enquired as to my puzzled expression (DPD drivers are known for their empathy – it’s in their training) and I was able to explain the events of the morning thus far, as conveyed to me by sms and to you in the copy above.

You need to know that the conveyor belt at DPD in Lincoln broke down this morning so when the four delivery lorries (big business this) arrived at the depot all the parcels had to be manually handled. Manual intervention, as I’m sure you all know, leads to mistakes and the two packages didn’t end up in the same cage.

The upshot is that Dean himself is bringing the actual printer this afternoon. “Funnily enough” said Ian “I have just seen Dean driving down Wragby Road in the opposite direction” I live on Wragby Road. Funnily enough I didn’t laugh.

Ah well (said in a somewhat sanguine voice). I’ll pop into the office now then and come back for lunch.

In case you didn’t read it the HP printer delivery was for this bit of kit wot I wrote about yesterday. The HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw printer. Does double sided printing you know? :)

Apps ecommerce End User mobile apps

QR Codes only – no prices on display

Impressive display in Music shop has no prices – just QR codes.

Joe and I were heading out to Carrefour in the Pigalle, as you do, to get some basics in for le weekend. Yanow, beurre, jus d’orange and so on. On the way we came across what seemed to be the biggest music shop we had ever seen. The interesting thing about the shop, apart from it being rammed with fantastic gear which, Joe being a musician was of instant interest, was that there were no prices on display. Only QR codes!

Only problem was that without mobile data connectivity we were unable to browse the prices. I use the EE £2 a day flat rate roaming for calls and texts back home but not their rip off mobile data service. Even the guy in the EE shop thought it was a rip off.

It didn’t really matter as we were saving our cents for croissants and vin rouge but the concept of not having any prices on display was novel in this day and age. Each item had more than one QR code so I suspect some of them were prices and some were info on the product.

This again is very progressive. You don’t spend cash on expensive musical instruments and kit without first doing your research. I remember once going into Currys to buy a TV. I know very little about TVs and deliberately keep it that way. So when it made sense to buy a flat one we could stick on the wall instead of using the dinosaur that took up half the room I figured it would be useful to ask an expert.

The expert to hand was fully trained in the art of reading and just read out the three line feature set that came with the pricing label on the display. Doh. A QR code would have been very handy on that occasion although in reality, like many other gadgets today, there is very little to choose between products.

It reminds me of the time we were setting up We rang USwitch or some simlar site to talk to one of their experts. See what the pitch was. The guy was totally useless. All he could offer was the fact that Virgin had the fastest broadband.

QR Codes linked ot product information are clearly the way forward. Some shops might want to push the products that give them most margin but that isn’t the customer friendly thing to do.


Ciao amigos.

Apps Business business applications ecommerce mobile apps

Expensify – another online revelation

Expensify makes expenses simple to submit

Everytime I find a new service that I think is great and realise it’s been around a while makes me realise how behind the times I am. All my LONAP expenses now go on to Expensify. It’s like my experiences with Uber and AirBnB. Just so easy to use.

I know that most of you will have been using the service for yonks so you’ll have to bear with me. I now scan in my receipts using the Expensify Android app and they appear in my account all broken down into VAT etc. Add a category from a drop down box and submit report. Magic.

It even has the facility to email receipts. So Uber taxi trips, where you get sent the receipt as soon as the trip is over, are just forwarded to [email protected] and they appear in my account. Oo. Other than restaurants and bars why would I ever ask for a paper receipt again? Hotels can usually email you a PDF receipt.

Sometimes you do have to wonder whether technology makes life harder than easier because it is prone to go wrong. I have to say though that this isn’t my experience with the aforementioned applications.

So now I do all my accounts online using Freeagent, pay my bills automatically (actually only HMRC payments are automatic – they don’t give you a choice 🙂 ) using Lloyds online banking, file my expenses online, book my road/train/planetravel online and upload the receipts via email. I also sell event tickets using the Eventbrite cloud service and I use Google Apps for business in which all my work is done online.

Like I said, sorry if none of this is new to you. I was so excited I had to get it off my chest:) Most of my working life I’ve had to submit expense receipts with forms filled in. There have been times when I’ve had six different currencies to account for. Six different forms. Not any more  mwahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaa.

Apps ecommerce End User mobile apps

Phone picks up NFC signal from wallet

NFC signal WTF?

Just noticed btw that my phone has been picking up an NFC signal from my wallet! Took me a while to figure out what was going on. The phone kept pinging an unfamiliar sound when I put it down near the wallet.

It’s a slight worry because whilst I’m sure my phone wears a white hat who knows what other devices there are around that might just be sitting there listening for NFC enabled devices. I only have an oyster card and my bank debit card with NFC enabled but the latter is very specifically the one you don’t want anyone gaining access to.

Now I’ve not researched this so don’t know what security arrangements are built in to the NFC chips but it does raise an eyebrow.

I’ve looked at NFC as a transport mechanism for a few different business opportunities, largely as a means of engaging advertisers with punters. Up until now it hasn’t flown. Originally one of the reasons was that NFC wasn’t supported by Apple. Now Apple do support NFC but it is only as a means of accessing Apple’s own payment gateway.  It’s not any use for transmitting other files.

The Apple use case includes having to have your thumb on on the home button to authenticate that it is you using the NFC for payment. Sounds like Apple getting deeper and deeper into personal info on you if you ask me. Next up will be DNA recognition!!! The fanbois will say I’m getting paranoid and that I should just accept all this “yes master stuff”. Well no thanks. We can fight this nyahahahahahahaaaaaa.

Y’all have a great day now. Would you like ketchup with that. I see your DNA suggests that you are a ketchup kind of guy.

PS if you don’t know what NFC is read about it here. Other mobile app stuff on this site here.

Bad Stuff Business ecommerce Engineer internet online safety Regs security surveillance & privacy

A quick guide to problems that will arise if we implement further internet surveillance measures

Snoopers Charter revisited

The aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo murders has lead to goverment and opposition calling for more internet surveillance. Here are a few points for your consideration.

  1. Storing this data will inevitably result in it being hacked, left on a train/taxi on a laptop/memory stick and details of a government minister affair with another MP being made public. Example here (29 Jan 2015)
  2. The overhead associated with having to gather and store the data in a secure way will be proportionally huge compared to the size of the business and to the number of customers for smaller ISPs. This will result in the government deciding not to force these businesses to store the information and settle just for the biggest 7 ISPs aka the Digital Economy Act. The consequence will be that potential terrorists will just use these smaller ISPs for their internet services leaving a big hole in the “surveillance net”
  3. The resources required to make this happen will be huge. The French government already knew about the Charlie Hebdo killers. They just lacked the feet on the street to keep tabs on them. Diverting staff to managing the data gathering project will mean even fewer feet on the street or divert cash from adding more feet.
  4. The technical challenges with managing sender and receiver data for email clients is not small due to the hundreds of different clients out there with non standard formats.
  5. Most email is in any case encrypted these days and is run on platforms that are not necessarily owned by UK businesses. The difficulties associated with extracting these data will not be small (if not impossible). Ditto social media platforms.
  6. Forcing these platforms to provide a back door into the encrypted data (assuming it will be doable) will erode trust in areas of the economy that also rely on such encryption such as banking and ecommerce.
  7. Businesses will move away from the UK. It will be the start of the rot and leave us with a reputation akin to China et all when it comes to “surveillance society”.
  8. Terrorists will move deeper into darknets and continue to kill innocent people.
  9. On balance I’d spend the money on more feet on the street.

The rush to call for the snooper’s charter to be implemented would result in a bad law that will not have had adequate scrutiny. My wife and one of the kids were in the audience during last night’s BBC Question Time filmed in Lincoln’s Drill Hall. I watched despite it being well after my bedtime.

None of the panellists or the audience really had a grasp on the issues which reflects its highly complex nature. It’s very easy for MPs to support this type of legislation. Most right minded people will agree that it’s a good thing to stop terrorism. It’s just that they don’t understand the implications.

Check out other snoopers charter type posts here.

Business ecommerce End User mobile apps

Online life – more trust being placed in mobile devices & airbnb

In which I book a flat in Paris using airbnb

Had a really good online experience last night. The Davies’ are off to Paris for Easter to celebrate our daughter’s 21st birthday (I know I know I don’t look old enough). She will already be there so transport and accommodation for the remaining five of us ain’t cheap and takes a bit of shopping around. I booked Eurostar and then looked for accommodation for 5 people

The daughter will have a flat in Paris by then and the small army of mates she has invited over will be laying claim to that space. A hotel can get expensive. An apartment was the answer.

I ended up on for the first time. I’m not into renting a room in someone’s house whilst they are there but airbnb also do whole house rentals. I booked 2 flats. One for the week that we go over at the beginning of Feb to do some flat hunting, open a bank account and get an NI number. The second for the family for Easter weekend (bear with me).

I found a nice 3 bedroom place in Montmartre but needed clarification as to what constituted a “bedroom”. You see some places where a curtain down the middle of the room turns that room into a 2 bedroom flat and one of the beds is an airbed. I’m after quality.

I sent a question to the owner and retired upstairs. In bed an sms came in with the answer. 3 proper bedrooms with proper beds. Sorted. I was going to leave the booking until the morning but noticed a red button on my phone inviting me to confirm and pay for the reservation there and then.

Clicking on the button took me to the Play Store, downloaded the airbnb app and let me finish off the transaction. Totally seamless. A serious joy to use.

This ranks with Uber as one of my recent “discoveries” of highly useful and functional mobile applications. I also now manage my bank account from my mobile.

The point is that up until fairly recently I wouldn’t have touched financial transactions with a bargepole when using my mobile. I didn’t consider it a secure enough device. Now I’m spending thousands of pounds at the click of a button.

What’s changed. First of all the bank made a point of stressing that it would cover any losses incurred as a result of use of the phone app. That was good enough for me. That also removed the barriers for me to use the phone for other financial transactions.In fact these days I am far less reticent about storing my credit card details with online retailers than I used to be.

My phone really is becoming my global personal management device. I do everything through it. I also use 2 Chromebooks. One in the office and one at home. I used to think that the phone would one day replace a PC. All it would take would be a screen and a dock next to the keyboard – see my CES 2012 non report which mentions this.

Reality is that is what I already have. The Chromebook, which is a considerably cheaper device than my phone, is effectively that keyboard and docking device in one. That’s because nothing of real value is stored locally on either my phone or my Chromebook. It’s all in the cloud.

If push came to shove I could do without my Chromebook, as long as I had my phone. This actually sits quite nicely with my CES 2015 post earlier this week. In that post I discussed the fact that we never see revolutionary new products at such trade shows. However  mature products can eventually look revolutionary when you look back and compare them with their functionality at launch. I used the iPhone as an example.

Now I look at the whole concept of the mobile device and see that it really has become the stand out revolutionary gadget that makes a huge difference. I’m not sure that the current “wearable” revolution/fad is going to have the same legs. Unless wearable devices are just the evolution of the mobile phone form factor and we have a cheap and perhaps disposable User Interface device to replace what we now call a handset.

I can envisage walking in to a room and using a display in that room in order to see the emails/IM/video coming in on my by now tiny handset that sits in my watch or on my keyring. We already have the prototype of such displays with the TV and the Chromecast.

I  have regular hangouts with my daughter who currently lives in Toledo (she gets around). I see no reason why these hangouts shouldn’t happen on the TV, voice-controlled. We are almost there. Slap low cost displays around the house and you could do the same thing in any room. The only thing missing is the camera on top of the display. Mere detail.

This all came about from finding that airbnb was a joy to use. Life really is now all about the mobile device and the cloud1.

I’m digressing a bit but the one surprising change in the market is the reduced dominance of the mobile service providers. Telecoms services are rapidly homogenising into a single service set with fixed line broadband perhaps being the leading play. Mobile/cellular connectivity is just something you use when nowhere near a wifi connection (that’s the way it’s going even if it isn’t quite there yet.  It’s certainly true where home use is concerned).

It’s a tough old game, telecoms. For years telcos have been fighting against the race to the bottom. Who can provide he cheapest services. To counter this they have tried to introduce added value services. TV is the only successful such service that people are willing to pay for.

The telcos problem is that for a service to be a winner, such as airbnb and Uber it has to be independent of the telco. These revenue streams are denied to them.

Back to the science fiction of now almost the only thing that is really stopping me reducing my reliance on the old fashioned keyboard UI is the fact that an open office isn’t the right place to hold a conversation with your display. I also don’t want to spend my whole day talking to a computer. Furthermore voice recognition tech will really need to do something about ending sentences. On my droid I have to say “period”. Who on earth calls a full stop a period???

Mere detail…

1 yes yes ok I know life is really all about happiness and wellbeing etc with a dose of number 42 thrown in for good measure:)

ecommerce End User

Black Friday stuff

Black’s Black Friday – 15% off full priced items

I was lying in bed this morning when Black Friday was all over the news. If this blog is the only media you ever take notice of you need to know that Black Friday is an Americun import designed to try and make people rush to spend money by thinking they are getting fantastic deals on stuff.

So I picked up my trusty phone and looked up Tesco online. Not with a view to buying anything you realise. What do I need? Just to see what kind of bargains were available. Oo, Tesco’s website was busy and I couldn’t get on it. At 7.30 in the morning. People need to get a life!

In the interest of research I went on Amazon. I could access That’s what happens when you own a massively scalable cloud resource. Nothing on there to buy that jumped out of the page though so I visited PC World. The “bargains” on PC World appeared to all have 10% off. Oh.

Now don’t get me wrong. 10% off is a good thing but it doesn’t really seem to be the level of discount that should justify the hype around “Black Friday”. Maybe I’m just an ungrateful sod. Maybe these products are already sold at such competitive prices that it’s difficult to knock the price down any further. No so sure about that when you consider the manufacturing costs of electronics these days must be rock bottom – just look at the components of my dissected Chromebook in yesterday’s post. PC World seems a bloated inefficient organisation to me (allegedly, own opinion etc). Never make the mistake of telling them you are buying something for your business. It takes about 15 minutes to process a credit card when 5 seconds is the norm.

I’m sure that if you shopped around online you would probably find that product you were considering clicking “buy” for available elsewhere at that Black Friday reduced price. Time spent doing due diligence for product purchases online has replaced time spent wandering around the shops. At least in my world it has. Especially when it comes to buying train tickets. Let’s not go there.

Just to round off this somewhat negative post I’d like to share with you the fact that my walk to work takes me by Blacks, the outdoors shop. Their window dressing was using “Cyber weekend” as their promo as opposed to Black Friday. Obvs trying to avoid confusion. I think they missed a trick. They could have called it “Blacks Friday” and demonstrated leadership.

Blacks’ Cyber weekend promo is a perfect example of what I’ve been talking about in this post. They are offering 15% off “full priced” items. Who buys full priced items these days? Maybe I’m just tight…

blacks cyber weekend deals

Business ecommerce internet mobile apps

Old Websites

Considering Internet detritus of the slash-and-burn order, often the walking-dead creations of fly-by-night “web developers” who took the money (and lots of it) and ran.

Websites. For small businesses. Probably built by someone nice met at a local business networking event.

In Drupal? Joomla? TYPO3? For those without a care in the world, those first two aren’t places (except in web developers’ multi-conversant-code-language-script-caffeine-based frontal lobes), not even in the Hindu Kush. No, these are programming languages often used to build websites. Took that certain ‘someone nice’ years to learn that, and it would have taken many hours to build, let alone discuss wireframes etc., with you, their patient ‘How long is a piece of string?’ client.

What did you pay? £500? £1500? £6000? More !?! Wow! How was the ROI? How much is the SEO still costing you?

Hmmmm…. Guessing that if that was a few years ago, you’d currently have more chance of tracking down a yeti in a blizzard than locating the whereabouts of said web developer, who’s possibly off finding self, tracking yetis in the Himalayas etc. (or perhaps even heading up a super secret division looking into ants at Google HQ!)

Having had to track down (hey, thanks #socmed) and drag one web developer back to his Himalayan base camp, to make contact by satellite phone at an allotted time, and say ‘Just give us the bloody admin password’ so very small but critical changes could be made to a client’s site, I feel for SME owners caught in this trap. He of course wanted us to wait until his return in three months. Client wanted to call Nominet and serve a fortnight’s notice. Compromise met, password released. In that particular case, thin ‘partition walls’ existed between all the small sites he had on the server and with the main admin password I could of course see everything: clearly he’d done quite well and was now spending his earnings travelling. I hear new examples of this every week.

I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg and that there’s a lot of these about, perhaps enough to one day push Nominet into ringing round asking if you were “mis-sold a website”, which you maybe won’t even own the domain registration of, and hence have not a clue what to do.

Nobody can claim WordPress ($free) is the be-all-and-end-all of web design (sorry Editor Kory!) or replace what a great digital agency can do for £50K, but with the availability of plugins such as WooCommerce ($free) and Information Street’s ‘Connector4 WooCommerce’ ($147) integrating the popular SMB commerce tool InfusionSoft ($pick your pain level) and thus taking the financial sting out of DIY self-build SMB websites, just what will all the newbie web developers cut their teeth on in the future?

Mobile apps for these previously desktop-only greats like WordPress (and all its plugins) and InfusionSoft enable, empower and look very shiny (“Give me that power!”), and they just kill that web developer’s rough version of your site (beautifully coded in C++, for less than a fiver an hour most probably, demo’d and discussed frequently in Nero’s).

Seriously, how long before there is nothing you cannot do on your business’s site/blog/e-commerce backend on your tablet sitting on the beach (except actually see it in direct sunlight)?

Ouch. Poor web developer.

However, it’s ‘out of the pan, and into the fire’, dear Reader. Those web developers; I have a sneaky feeling if they’re not working at $P$R$DigitalMegaBucks$$ design agency, many have gone off to design WordPress themes — and now the 2014 equivalent to the above scenario is discovering they haven’t updated that theme you bought two years ago (and they aren’t going to any time soon either, as it’s snowboarding season!). They just haven’t got the time or incentive to continue to support it, just so it will work with the newly-patched WordPress release for your newly-old website. For example, there’s the Jewelry Shop Theme by Sarah Neuber (see also this if you’re affected!) although I have no idea about Sarah Neuber’s reasons for leaving no forwarding address (it’s probably not yeti related) again you can feel the obvious pain of the SMB owners.

Moral of the story? It’s tempting to reiterate that if you want something done properly then do it yourself, but if your business is actually keeping you busy, you probably don’t have that time. However it’s 2014 and you now have no excuse not to have at least some working knowledge of what to do if that nice web developer checks out of town, and to ask that it’s built entirely upon WordPress in the first place?

Apps chromebook Cloud ecommerce End User gaming google H/W internet Mobile mobile apps mobile connectivity Net phones social networking

The Hump Day Five (16-July-2014)

The Hump Day Five is on Red Alert this week, getting all Google-y powerful on music in the cloud, Leftovers, and Ping Pong Mania.


Started watching a new TV show a couple of weeks back called “The Leftovers”. If you haven’t haven’t seen or heard of it, the premise is quite simple. On 14-October at a precise moment in time approximately 2% of the world’s population randomly disappears without a trace. Drivers from moving vehicles, criminals from prison cells, babies from car seats, one moment there the next moment gone. It doesn’t take much imagination to see compelling story elements in such a framework, and in fact it is easy to see how the utter chaos of such a situation could become too much of a good thing (entertainment-wise, that is). The creators, though, very smartly opt to confine the drama to a single small town somewhere in America and how “The Departure”, as it is called, has affected and continues to affect the populace three years down the line. Succulent details are offered via ancillary media — overheard radio, television news programs being watched by this-or-that character, etc., not a small amount of Internet-y stuff — and go so far as to include a list of celebrities who number among the 2%. Dark stuff riddled rich with despair, sure, and as television goes it isn’t for everyone, but if you like your diversion disturbing and in-your-face I highly recommend checking it out.


Since late June a new application for both iPhone and Android has been making its way through the zeitgeist in direct response to the once-again-heightening tensions between Israel and Palestine: Kobi Snir’s Red Alert Israel. The idea behind this new app is to alert users of incoming rockets so they can stop whatever it is they are doing and take shelter*. The alerts received (tied directly to Israel Defense Forces and Homefront Command) can be configured quite tightly — there are a great many individual areas, considering the country’s small land mass — and each alert offers allows for comments, which can include prayers and encouragement, as well as — not surprising, but enraging nonetheless — inflammatory notes full of disparagement and outright hatred. Red Alert Israel also includes streaming Israeli radio (in Hebrew) to supplement its alerts with more detailed information (I assume). All in all, it is a noble idea that falls definitively on the side of the angels (and I say this even knowing that there is no Red Alert Palestine equivalent).

So I am sensitive to the dead-serious nature of Red Alert Israel and applaud and support its above-reproach mission, but I would be fibbing BIG-time if I said the image of people running for cover from flying ordinance with their hands flailing high above their heads clutching their phones didn’t loosen a small smile. Got too many episodes of The Simpsons under my belt, I suppose. Please excuse (or feel free to flame me up but good in the Comments).

The Red Alert Israel app is free, as you would expect, though it does run shifting banner advertising, because in these times absolutely nothing should go unsponsored. I mean, think about it…is there an advertiser out there who wouldn’t want their product or service to be associated with the saving of lives? And thus a new business model is born!

*The users in Israel, that is, as it is quite evident that Red Alert Israel is being downloaded and put into use by people living elsewhere..for purposes of showing solidarity, inspiring prayer and greater empathy, to stoke flames of outrage, to feed whatever vicarious needs, perhaps to serve as the basis for gambling or drinking games, etc.


For someone who spends as much time driving keyboards and mice as I do, I really can be late to the party at times. Take cloud-hosted music (aka online music lockers, aka online music storage services). Available in various flavors for a few years now (the majors all bowed in 2011 — Apple, Amazon, Google — whereas an early achiever called AudioBox left the starting block in 2009), it was only this past weekend that I started to consider the idea of throwing some of my music up into the ether for ready access across my computers and smartphone. Naturally, I was aware of the cloud-hosted music concept, but that awareness was mostly relegated to Apple’s iTunes in the Cloud/iTunes Match service, and as I trust Apple’s software and service offerings about as much as…well, not at all, actually, I put up a willful “blind spot” to the whole idea. Of course, it also helped that my music collection far exceeded the 25,000 song limit put on the $25-per-year service by Apple, and that at the start – as is unfortunately so often the case — the service was available to U.S.-based users only.

A couple of years passed, and then along came KoryChrome. And with KoryChrome came promotions for Google services. And with the promotion in particular of Google Play Music — which I learned is now available in France and which includes the ability to load/match 20,000 songs absolutely free — came my revisiting the subject of cloud-hosted music this past weekend. 20,000 songs for uploaded/matched for free? Songs I can access from any Internet-connected computer capable of running a browser (Google Chrome need not be that browser, either), or from any Internet-connected smartphone? All without commercials or listening limitations?

Yeah, I know this party started ages ago, but as far as I am concerned there is still beer in the fridge and it’s still ice-cold.


On the subject of KoryChrome, La Famille Kessel returned to our Pays d’Auge family hovel in Blangy-le-Château this past weekend, and my keen and cool new Chromebook was thus reunited with its power source. And this time that power source made it into my computer bag for the trip back to Paris at weekend’s end. No doubt, a great many of you will now breathe easier and will stop wanting for sleep.


Got struck hard by a serious wave of irony a few hours ago when My Missus and I put The Boy on a train to summer camp. The camp he is attending is called “Ping Pong Mania” (translate from French), and it promises to be exactly that, with 90+ minutes of table tennis play and training each morning and another such session each afternoon. I blush with a certain amount of pride in saying that my kid is really quite masterful at the game, in no small measure because other than ping pong his free time these days is overwhelmingly consumed by Minecraft, Clash of Clans, SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition, youtube videos galore rooted in gameplay and game parody and what-have-you, and a bevy of other sofa-bound veg-and-play games and experiences.

My hope is the next 10 days will find The Boy matched up with other kids his age who are at or near his level. Otherwise, his hesitance to get off the couch and get out in the world (read: separate from his MacBook and iPad and Nintendo DS3) will have been justified…or so he will say and think, anyway. And this is where the irony lies as 32 years ago I remember feeling similar hesitation at heading off to summer camp, too…summer computer camp!

Business ecommerce Weekend

It’s the weekend yay and I have lots of junk mail

It’s the weekend yay and I have lots of junk mail to catch up with. Normally this only takes 2 seconds. Virgin Media keep soliciting business and miscellaneous crappy insurance offers.

One letter sticks. It’s about the fact that I didn’t appear to have paid my mortgage for two months. Sigh. My mortgage goes out by standing order, automatically, I never have to look at it. Does anyone?

I call C&G bracing myself for a protracted time on the phone. Miraculously I get through to someone straight away. It turns out the bank cancelled the DD. Sigh. I only recently had an issue with them where they took too much out. Sigh.

The letter I received from C&G mentioned that if I continued with my arrears I’d be stung with a fairly hefty fee. Sigh. I paid the outstanding balance over the phone but in parting the guy at the other end mentioned that it wasn’t totally out of the question that I might get charged additional interest for the unpaid monies. Sigh.

This of course was out of the question and likely to lead to me having to waste an hour of someone’s time in visiting the bank to sort it out. He wasn’t able to say for sure and neither was he able to say how I would know it had happened. Would it appear as an extra payment or just added to the outstanding balance? Sigh. He did mention that with the interest rates at all time low it wasn’t likely to be much money. Even if it is only one pence it is too much and would engender aggravation for both me and the bank.

It all come down to outdated systems. Outdated systems mean lots of manual processing and especially manual processing of errors. I bet a bank could get rid of 30% of its staff, and therefore costs by improving its systems. Probably too big a task leaving us the punters to pick up the bill in terms of greying hair, loss of hair and increased waistlines caused by comfort eating to alleviate the stress of it all.

To alleviate some of this stress I’ve just gone through the pile of junk mail and where there was a freepost envelope stuck the junk into this to return to the sender. Barclaycard specifically. Unfortunately there wasn’t a freepost envelop in the Virgin Media mailer and they are the worst culprits. They must spend a fortune on Direct Mail. I thought people weren’t allowed to send junk DM. My name must be on a list somewhere. Sigh.

Other truly inspirational posts with titles that include the word “bank”

Nice picture of crocii near the Embankment
Lloyds bank – 2 out of 7 servers down
My first Banksy

And if you’re wondering about the picture of the flower. Something to raise a smile:) One has to you know.

ecommerce End User

Apple store y

Made a purchase from the Apple Store in Florida Mall in Orlando. It was the first time I had made such a purchase. I’m not a big Apple fan. I was greeted at the door and handed on to a “personal shopper” (my term not theirs) who stuck with me to offer advice on the purchase. I didn’t really need advice. I just used their wifi to check up on my Facebook messages to make sure I was getting the right spec before I pushed the green button.

To my surprise there wasn’t a till area. The guy had a handheld device and processed my credit card there and then. Oo okay. Novel. I asked him if he could email me a receipt and, oo, their system already had my email address. Not sure I like that. I thought I’d deleted my card details from the Apple Apps Store or whatever it’s called. Apple had the number registered against my Apple ID.

Didn’t feel comfortable in that shop. I felt it was full of like minded people but they were not like me. I realise that lots of people do like Apple stuff so we all have to accept that people are different.

One thing I did notice on my retail spree in Orlando was the credit card processing systems. In NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre they just swiped my card. Anything below $100 apparently didn’t need a signature. Most retail outlets and bars had a gadget you used to sign but anyone could have done that. If it was a stolen card nobody was checking the signature against the one on the card which in any event was unlikely to match. those electronic pads don’t make for a good signature. Presumably all they are any use for is for when you dispute a transaction you can point to the fact that the stored signature looks nothing like your own.

Made me appreciate our own chip and pin system. Spent far too much but hey… you can’t take it with you and at least I got a couple of Tommy Bahama shirts.

Business business applications ecommerce

MAC Code for Banks

Are MAC codes for banks long overdue?

Was discussing banks with Bloor on Facebook. He paid his credit card off early but the bank still took the payment as Direct Debit meaning he had paid it twice. Apologies forthcame and situation was rectified but then the DD wasn’t taken at all the following month so he got stung with a penalty charge. Again it was sorted but when things like this happen they can take days out of your life. It’s a bit like calling an insurance company or HMRC but takes even longer.

I had a situation recently where I paid a mortgage off but the bank still took the DD for it. Sigh… It did get sorted but the person at the bank, who was most helpful said that DDs are entered into the system 10 days or so in advance of the money being taken (as I recall – if not 10 days it was a simlar timeframe). Most banks will be the same. Their systems are antiquated.

I’m not sure it matters which bank you are with and changing banks is a pain in the arse anyway. We concluded that what was needed was a MAC Code system for banks. One that provided all the information needed to transfer not only your account but all the Direct Debits as well.

If nothing else this would prompt banks to be more competitive. If it was easy for people to move then they’d soon get their collective act together.

Banana cheescake…

ecommerce End User travel

Is there a travel agent left in town? Internet upsides and downsides

sunny Bank Holiday in the UK - calm before the stormTravel agents seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth. I’m not surprised. Everything like that is done online these days.

I’ve been researching the destination for a family holiday. For various reasons we can’t push the button until much nearer the end of school summer term. Doesn’t stop me looking to see what is out there though.

You can source hundreds thousands of holidays online. You can see the reviews, check out what’s on offer, look at average temperatures for that time of year, even see how much a pint of lager costs (we are talking overseas here).

My problem is that with of us in the family with a range of ages between 14 and 52 trying to identify a single location that will satisfy everyone is proving very difficult. Few of us like sitting on the beach but we all like nice weather though not too hot. We want to be able to mix doing stuff with lazing around, sightseeing with snorkelling, pool bars at the hotel with dinners out at great local restaurants (no doubt with a low key violinist or simlar playing away in the corner).

We don’t want something pitched at a lowest common denominator but we do want a combination of independence and hotel pampered luxury, without paying through the nose for it:). Somewhere everyone speaks English is a nono but the availability of discretely translating waiters when my own limited language skills prove inadequate is desirable. Pictures of food on the menu don’t cut it j’ai peur I’m afraid (pretentious moi?).

What I really need is to be able to go into a travel agent, tell her what I’ve just told you, and wait for a description of the perfect spot based on a fact finding trip made last summer where all of the above was showcased.

I don’t think I’m going to get it. I walked through Lincoln to where I knew there were a couple of travel agent shops but they are there no longer. The downside of the internet. One of them is now a Joules shop. What use is that? Probably end up camping in South Wales again! Where did I put the hammock!?

Related summertime posts:

Why go abroad when there is camping in the UK?
I bought a barbecue

Business ecommerce obsolescence

Windows XP ATM failure

There’s a Post Office down the road from my mam and dad’s place with a Barclays ATM. Yesterday I strode up to said ATM with a view to extracting some cash. Totally legally of course.

Imagine my surprise when I was confronted with a screen showing what appeared to be Windows XP booting up. Wow I thought and reached for the gun in my holster phone in my pocket to capture the moment in pixels. I was too slow. I’d never have made a good cowboy.

By the time I had unlocked the phone and fired up the camera (checked the film, taken a light reading, adjusted the focus etc) all I got was a curt apology stating that the cashpoint machine was currently dysfunctional and would I mind awfully trying the one at the Isle of Man Bank down the road.

Disappointed I turned my back on the machine and walked dejectedly towards the IoM bank. I thought that might have been a scoop. “XP brings down global banking system”. Wasn’t going to be the same without the photographic evidence.

I parked the thought whilst we spent the afternoon enjoying the delights of Onchan Park on its opening day of the season. Crazy golf at its best. The pitch and put and the bowling were closed due to waterlogged greens but that didn’t spoil our fun.

This morning my thoughts returned to the global banking crisis but research suggests that nothing untoward had happened. No doom laden headlines. Shock horror probe. Must have been a local issue.

I did find a few timely articles discussing the fact that all the world’s ATMs appear to run on XP. Speculation as to whether this was a ticking time bomb together with quotes from Microsoft suggesting that a move to Windows 8.1 would be very sensible from a security perspective. No news at all really.

One does wonder what the next generation of ATM o/s will be. Microsoft doesn’t exactly feel right but there again it would probably be easiest from a backwards compatibility perspective. I’m not that interested. It’s Sunday morning and I’m typing this post with my thumb on my droid. There is bacon to be cooked.

Easy like Sunday morning…

ecommerce End User spam

London Book Fair 2014 – unsubscribe SPAM

Yesterday I took delivery of a book: “History of the Welsh Baptists from the year 63 to 1770”. I had to refer to this post for the exact dates – I’m on my way to Manchester, the book is at home and the acknowledgement email cuts the title off at the number 6.

I’m happy enough with the book although the paper has a distinctive odour. Much of it is fictitious rubbish sourced from medieval tracts. It serves a purpose as I am interested in Welsh Baptists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries1, particularly from the area between Caerfyrddin and Castell Newydd Emlyn 🙂

The book is a photocopy of an abbreviated English translation of an early Welsh text but it has done the job for me. It’s a print on demand job from India. The service was good.

This morning I woke up to an email from someone called

ecommerce Engineer security

New Joules shop opens – queue remains calm, Bruce Schneier signs book

two_pence_thumbCould hardly contain my excitement walking to work this morning. A new shop has opened on Lincoln High Street!

I wouldn’t have notice were it not for the fact that a woman got in my way trying to take a photo of the queue. I too like to take photos (of queues) so I reversed in my tracks, whipped out my journalistic photo device and took two pics just to be on the safe side. David Bailey would have been confident with only taking one.

It’s unlikely I will be visiting this shop. It sells

Business ecommerce mobile apps

The O2 Wallet is dead, long live Zapp – mobile payment App

The O2 wallet is dead. It disappointed from the start. I put a tenner in to have a play and found that I couldn’t use my phone to pay for anything. It had a mobile app but all that did was provide a web interface for the phone. It wasn’t a contactless payment tool. To use it seemed just as elaborate as my normal internet banking service, so not particularly easy then.

It might have been an article on the BBC about a new contactless payment system, Zapp, that made me think of the O2 Wallet again. When the O2 Wallet was launched I thought I would be a trailblazer (I’m sure I wrote a post about it at the time but am blowed if I can find it). I would be able to use my phone to pay for things. I signed up and downloaded the android app. Good start.

I started small by sticking ten quid in my newly opened account. The tenner sat in the account for I know not how long (actually must have been 18 months because that’s how long O2 is saying the project lasted). I found it impossible to spend that cash, like I said.

I was disappointed but hey, it was an experiment that cost a tenner. Though it did occasionally drift into mind I forgot about the O2 Wallet. I pretty much wrote off the tenner.

Last night I logged in to my O2 Wallet account. The miracle was that I could remember my password. I was greeted with the message shown in the pic.

Following the instructions I withdrew my £10. Put it back into my bank account. Lost out on 18 months of current account interest at 0.75% but who cares (as he rolls another cigarette in a fifty pound note)(not really, I don’t smoke).

I noted with bemusement a message saying that the service was free at the moment but that charges would be introduced in future.

O2 will be closing my account in March. I will uninstall the app today.

The O2 Wallet is dead. May Zapp succeed where O2 did not. I hope it does. I have on occssion nipped out to the shops and left my wallet at home but I rarely forget my phone.

I hope Zapp is easy whilst remaining secure because it is the future of payment systems.

That’s all. Written in bed on my droid.

Footnote. I just uninstalled the O2 Wallet app and looked for Zapp in the play store. No sign of it!!! Hmm. Not a great start.

Business ecommerce gadgets

Skimlinks – moneymaking machine #wonga #moolah #lolly

skimlinks revenuesA few weeks ago  as a bit of an experiment I signed up with Skimlinks. Skimlinks is a means of making money via affiliate marketing on your website. Their plug in scans your site for words that they can associate with their affiliated merchants (Amazon etc) and they insert a link to a relevant product sales page on that site. I have it set on a fairly low level of intrusion as a) it was only an experiment and b) I didn’t want to annoy people with too much in the face advertising. Google can also take a dim view on this sort of stuff if it is over the top.

At the time it was before I had announced my plans to leave my previous employer and start anew. One or two of you did actually notice and made comments on Twitter. Nothing bad, Just “interesting, let us know how you get on“.

Well I am excited to announce that since signing on (looks as if it was early November) I have made a grand total of £57.34.  In recognition of what is a huge rate of growth (zero to fifty seven quid = infinite rate of growth) I shall shortly be announcing the imminent flotation of this blog on the stock market.

It is worth taking a look at where this income has come from and at some of the stats so vibrantly driving the new economy.

I mentioned Amazon (etc). All the sales have in fact come through Amazon and the vast majority have been for the Google Chromecast for which I am making anything between £1.12 and £1.47 commission per sale achieved. For the unfamiliar amongst you a sale is recognised against my account by tracking the click through from to the ultimate signing on the dotted line by the paying punter. I don’t get the money for around 60 days which are pretty generous terms in Amazon’s favour considering they will get the cash instantly because the customer will have paid by credit card.

skimlinks_sold_itemsAside from the Chromecast there’s a fairly long list of other items bought after clicking on a link. The mix is wonderful. Wonderful because you wonder how on earth they got to this blog if they were actually looking for certain items. Click on the photo on the right for a larger view. The wonderful list includes a Breville Technique Digital Steam Iron, 2400 Watt, BRASS ALLIANCE QUINTET FROM ST. PETERSBURG (presumably a musical CD – I’d expect a fairly substantial commission if I’d managed to arrange a gig for them),  Ramozz @ 5X Led Pcb Connector Cable For 5050 Led Rgb Strip and some MENS LONG COTTON SOCKS Comfy grip Size 6-11 Black 6pk (made 45 pence there – don’t laugh, it all adds up).

If you look at the statistics since the installation of Skimlinks the blog has had 62,605 visits and made £57.34 from 1,450 clicks – thats an average of 4 pence per click.

Ok so this isn’t going to pay for next summer’s holiday in Barbados, or even one in Skegness although I still have time before I need to book – will just have to accept that we might miss the January sales.

It is however interesting to see what kind of traffic you need to drive to the site in order to make money. If we assume that Barbados is going to cost ten grand – we will have to leave the kids behind, we have to be realistic about expectations – then my quick back of a google spreadsheet calc tells me we will need just under 11 million visitors between now and the end of May. This assumes Anne and I will be going at the start of the school holidays (wouldn’t want the headmaster to find out we had abandoned the kids for a couple of weeks) and recognising that it is going to take 2 months to get the cash off Skimlinks.

Half the battle in business is getting your objective setting right and making them realistically achievable. Also you do have to be sensible about these expectations. Clearly the blog isn’t going to go from the current visitor levels to around 2 – 2 1/2 million a month just like that. We must expect a ramp up. So in order to hit an average of around 2.5 million visitors a month over the next 5 months or so we probably need to be hitting a run rate of 4 1/2 million visits a month by the end of May. Ish.

There we go then.

Now this is all just a bit of fun but at the end of the day is going to make money so what learnings can really be taken out of the Skimlinks numbers.

Well for one the blog is getting a lot of visits to the Chromecast review – 10,754 in the time period being covered here. This is almost certainly because we were one of the first to carry a review of the Chromecast in the UK – it was only available via import at the time. This has been noticeable over the years. Before FTTC (fibre broadband) was available I wrote some technical posts on it and for a long time, until the consumer ISP advertising machines got into gear, the blog ranked very highly for FTTC.

Also a search for Chromecast on this site brings up 7 results. I’d be surprised if was really that low but in any case there must clearly from Google’s perspective be some content regarding Chromecast worth ranking.

Once we are properly up and running is going to specialise in certain aspects of the technology market. It isn’t hard to guess what the focus is going to be. It’s the kind of stuff that has been covered over the years – connectivity, hosting, mobile and so on.

The key is in generating content that will elevate the site up the rankings for specific subjects. For example a high end broadband bundle can yield up to £140 in commission for a sale achieved through an affiliate marketing click through. A few of those in a month and you can justifiably start applying for the passport and cancel the caravan booking in Skeggy.

It’s also important to understand who the blog readership is because getting the content right will also not only generate affiliate click through sales but also attract specialist advertising.

Anyway that’s enough for now. Gotta nip out for some suntan lotion – Poundland, January sales. is open up for guest posts so if you have anything you want to say in the technology area drop me a line and can chat about setting you up with an account.


PS Only £7 of the Skimlinks money is so far available for collection because of the 60 days rule. I haven’t looked to see if it is there. I don’t get out of bed for less than a tenner.

Business ecommerce

Online Xmas shopping – delivery charges almost as much as the goods

I did most of my Christmas shopping online this year. Amazon. Who would want to face the elbow sharpened housewives and desperate present seeking husbands in the high street scrum?

The shopping, aside from actually deciding what to buy for individual relatives, was easy. The shock came in finding out the total bill when Postage and Packing was included.  Although I didn’t leave it till the last minute I wasn’t exactly an early bird shopper so to make sure the presents were delivered in time to ensure happy smiling faces on the big day I paid for first class delivery in each case.

Check out the costs below. I left out the items with free delivery as these were largely bigger ticket purchases with the delivery buried in the total cost. Out of the total cost of £63.27,  £22.06 was delivery!!!

Item(s) Subtotal: £15.75
Postage & Packing: £6.72
Total: £22.47

Item(s) Subtotal: £15.19
Postage & Packing: £3.34
Total: £18.53

Item(s) Subtotal: £7.99
Postage & Packing: £6.50
Total: £14.49

Item(s) Subtotal: £2.28
Postage & Packing: £5.50
Total: £7.78

Total items £41.21
Total Postage & Packing £22.06

Total cost £63.27

I think I’m going to invest in UPS shares. There is a service called Amazon Prime which provides free delivery on many items for an annual cost of around fifty quid. This starts to look good value all of a sudden.

The smallest item at £2.28 was a pack of 20 ear plugs for my sister. Never let it be said I don’t buy exciting presents #generoustoafault. Delivery was over 2x the cost of the ear plugs!!!

Interesting to see how the business model for postal services is changing. Other than Christmas cards I doubt that we send many physical letters anymore. Also most of our bills are received electronically. Since finishing work on 20th December I have sent 17 emails from my gmail account. That’s over the holiday period. There will also have been umpteen IMs and sms’. But I still spent £22.06 on postage!

Business ecommerce

Job Vacancy – WordPress Developer for based in Lincoln is a technology blog that is widely read by techies in the internet networking and hosting industries. For the last 5 years the site has operated as a non-commercial vehicle and has built up a base of regular readers and commenters. attracts over 40k page views a month is linked to from some serious web properties such as the BBC, the guardian and the telegraph.

As of January 2014 is changing to be a revenue generating start-up with big plans. Part of these plans include stepping up the rate of content generation but equally important is the underlying WordPress technology platform of the blog.

We want to invest a serious amount of time and effort into the technical capabilities of This isn’t going to be “just another WordPress blog”. is going to be a leader.  A leader in technical content and a leader in the adoption/showcasing of internet marketing social media and communications capabilities. The business is going to be totally web based. No paper, maybe not even a phone number – why not just use Google Hangouts and Skype for example. We will need to integrate CRM, billing, advertising engines, a finance package, social media platforms – the list is almost certainly a lot longer.

To do this the first employee of is going to be a developer. You need to be a geek with ambition. The rewards will be considerable in line with the success of the business and with your own effectiveness.

LAMP experience and specifically WordPress is pretty much a given but the successful candidate will likely be able to turn their hand to lots of different areas of technology. This is going to be a job where you will grow your own capabilities. There is an initial task list but this is all about innovative development and thinking. There is going to be plenty of scope for you to suggest new projects for the site.

The job is going to be based at the offices in the Sparkhouse business incubator unit at the University of Lincoln Brayford Campus. We are looking for someone to start as soon as possible in 2014.

You can get in touch using the following media:

Twitter @tref

email [email protected]

Google Hangout +trefor


Required skills:

  • WordPress, themes, plugins

  • PHP / MySQL (3+ years preferred)

  • Solid understanding of LAMP stack

  • OO & Framework experience (Zend, Symfony, CI etc)

  • HTML (inc HTML 5 and CSS 2.0, 3.0)
Business ecommerce

Post Office needs investment

Post Office needs investment.

Hot on the tail of yesterday’s musical post I have another one for you. This post has to be read with the theme tune for kids cartoon Postman Pat buzzing in your ear. Ready? I’ll begin.

I’ve ordered some books – from Amazon fwiw. Over the last few days they have arrived, or not arrived as nobody was in and instead of leaving the books in an exposed porch Pat (for I’m sure it was he) took the sensible precaution of leaving a red card saying he’s tried his best to deliver, knocked loudly, rang twice and retreated to fight another day. We were to pick up the books from the sorting office or call to have them redelivered.

We opted for the redelivery, busy folk that we are and it was scheduled for last Friday. Anne stayed in especially but there was no delivery. Hmm.

On Saturday I happened to be downtown delivering a saxophone to the menders which was near to the sorting office so I popped in to pick up the stash. Except I didn’t. There must have been 40 or 50 people queuing outside the door. I retreated and decided to get there for opening time (7.30am) on Monday morning on my way for my usual swim.

At 7.35am I was a comfortable 6th in the queue and in no time was being served. I came away empty handed. We had arranged for the parcel to be redelivered so it wasn’t available for picking up. The fact that they had failed to deliver it when arranged was neither here nor there. They are running 3 days late.

I understand it is their busy time of year, though I thought they took on extra staff at this time of year. What is clear to me is that their systems need bringing into the 21st century. Had I known the situation I wouldn’t have done downtown early this morning to retrieve the parcels. There should have been a portal for me to track the parcel(s).

All I can say is it’s a good job I didn’t stand in the queue on Saturday. Would have been extremely irritating. Hopefully the books will arrive today although there isn’t going to be someone in all day. We could find ourselves re-entering the cycle!

If only Pat wouldn’t spend so much time chatting to granny Goggins!

dum dum dum, dum dum de dum, dum dum dum dum de dum dum dummm…

Business ecommerce

Christmas shopping was never fun

Santa seen on Timico premisesOur daughter, who is away at university, has very thoughtfully taken the pain away from our Christmas shopping by sending us (or her mum at least) a number of links to items she wants for Christmas. Easy peasy – we just have to forward the emails to Santa with endorsements – yes pair of jeans/no new car for him to take care of the logistics.

When you think about it why on earth would anyone in their right mind want to traipse around the shops buying Christmas presents. It has always been a nightmare. Online shopping was born for this very purpose.

A number of years ago my wife requested a very simple Christmas present. She wanted the “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” board game. Anne comes from a long tradition of playing games on Christmas afternoon which despite the clash with the established Davies practice of falling asleep on the settee in front of the fire she wished to continue.

No probs think I. On Christmas eve afternoon I traipsed down town to buy the game. No way Jose. I tried 8 shops. All any of them had available was the junior version. Beads of perspiration began to form on my brow. As a last resort I went to Tesco. Same there. I ended up buying the junior version which of course had easy ish questions together with a book of harder adult questions, but not the actual game she wanted.

I piled some more presents on for good measure but knew it would not be good enough. Anne is not a material girl. All she wanted was simply “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, the board game.

Came Christmas morning and amid the frenzy of wrapping paper flying across the living room Anne eventually looked around for her present. Unwrapping her present the disappointment was palpable.  My feeling of guilt, total. I had let my girl down. The girl who sacrifices everything for the sake of her family.

There was nothing I could do but drown my guilt in copious quantities of champagne whilst Anne selflessly returned to the isolation of the kitchen and her own thoughts.

From that year onwards I have never left the Christmas shopping to the last minute. Hooray for the world wide web. Hooray for online shopping. And whilst I think of it hooray for Christmas parties. Come to mine 🙂

PS sometime before Christmas remind me to tell you the story of when I left Hannah’s main present in the store room of the office and had to retrieve it on boxing day!

Business ecommerce

High street shop closures

I was walking past a shop on Steep Hill in Lincoln on Friday night and noticed that it was closing down. It’s happening all over the place. I have a friend who has closed the doors on his tailoring business as he couldn’t afford the rent and rates. This seems to be a trend.

I don’t know the story behind the shop in the photo but it is interesting to note that the business is continuing on the www where it won’t have the same overheads. A sign of the times. The shape of things to come. The harsh reality of the present.

high street shop closure

Apps ecommerce End User

How to avoid giving Apple credit card details for iTunes setup

peel castle from fenella beach car parkOne of my beefs with Apple has been that you have to give them your credit card details when setting up an iTunes account. For the uninitiated, the independent of mind majority, you need to sign up to iTunes to be able to download apps onto your iPad/Pod/Phone, even if the apps themselves are free.

The signup process involves filling in payment method details which I have always objected to.

Last weekend my dad acquired an iPad at the tender age of 78. He understandably didn’t trust Apple with his credit card details. We set him up without iTunes but it was clear that he would need to install some apps to make full use of the device – Facebook, Google+ and Skype in particular.

The www told me it should be possible to not to have to provide the card details but none of the instructions seemed to match what I could see on the sign up screen.

In the end

Apps Business ecommerce

IT problems, printers and online support models

justanswer online IT supportUsually I offload any home IT problems to the kids. Last night though I spotted one of them carrying the (wireless) printer into the living room. Omg wtf I thought (the kids will probably read this).

Turns out the printer is knackered. Print head stays stuck in place. The lad in question was moving it into a brighter room to try and get a better look. He is a good lad. There was of course nothing obvious so we plugged it back in. Still didn’t work & came up with an error code.

I searched online and found that this type of error, if it didn’t fix itself, needed a return to base to fix. Ah well. That’s why I took out the insurance policy – I do this for printers only because they are notoriously unreliable (assuming I can find the bumpf though usually PC World are good at keeping a record).

In one of my searches for the error code I came across “” which seemed to show promise. At first I thought it was a Kodak support site and filled in the online engagement box with the details of the problem. Next think  I know the details of an advisor came up highlighting his technical background and suggesting that the assistance might be worth £21 but giving you the opportunity to suggest another figure.

Very innovative. Being tight I moved off the page. After all I had already determined that the printer would either fix itself or need sending back. It seems like a good model for the total novice though. It is reasonable to pay someone for their expertise.

I rebooted the printer one last time and hey presto, it worked! Deep satisfaction…

Click on the header photo to see more of the page.

ecommerce End User

Yellow Pages shock

yellow pages - it's a percentages gameI realise it shouldn’t have come as a shock to me but one day over the long weekend I got home to find a copy of the Yellow Pages directory on the doorstep. It was a shadow of its former self, so much so that the notion of someone being strong enough to tear a telephone directory in half is now a pathetic anachronism.

It is extremely unlikely that it will ever be opened in our house. Even my wife, the least web/tech savvy of us all, would use the internet to look up services. You do have to ask yourself who is going to use it, or even who advertises in it. I guess they are still after the reasonably significant percentage of us that are not yet online. The size of the actual directory (click on header image for full shot so compare with car key – also it was only around 1cm thick) as a percentage of its former self probably reflects the percentage of people still offline.


Business ecommerce

Quid Pro Quo – lead generation

It took me some time to work out a strategy on how to handle sales cold calls. As CTO I get a lot of recruitment consultants and people trying to sell network equipment and services.

The problem is compounded by Timico coming 4th in the Sunday Times Techtrack 100. The fact that my email address and phone numbers are published on our website also increases the inbound traffic.

I do sympathise with sales people trying to drum up new business in the current economic environment. My approach is now to take the call or answer the email but in exchange for the contact details of the person at their company who is responsible for the purchasing of communications services. Every employee at Timico is a sales person, regardless of their title or job description :-).