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

broken gear chromebook Engineer google

This Chromebook is Dead

Deceased, kaput, no longer of this world – dead Chromebook motherboard

It is with a tinge of no real sadness that I present to you an image of a dead Chromebook motherboard. The Samsung Chromebook too is dead, on account of the non functioning motherboard.

It wasn’t a huge loss because these things are so cheap they are almost disposable. And disposing of it I am indeed doing. The dismembering of the Chromebook, I hesitate to call it a computer because that makes me think Microsoft, has been done for two reasons.

Firstly out of simple curiosity to see what it looks like inside. Secondly although I didn’t keep much data on the 16GB solid state drive there would have been some files of I know not what provenance and so it seemed to make sense to permanently delete this memory. Just what you would have done in the old hard drive days but slightly different.

As you can see the ssd now has a nail in it, driven firmly in by my handy Leatherman Multi-tool. No one should be without one.

The dead Chromebook motherboard itself is worth dwelling on. It’s diminutive nature represents beauty and the plastic shell in which it was mounted, consisting mostly of screen, keyboard and a couple of speakers, evidence of how cheap these things really are to churn out.

It is the future. Low cost, disposable computing resource and User Interface.

I include an earlier photo of the dead Chromebook motherboard for comparison together with

Business google

Bad links

Google webmaster guidelines

This is an interesting one. I got home last night from London having been to a charity lunch at Lords Cricket Ground as a guest of my friend Mehdi Nezarati of esna. It was a great afternoon and will suffice to tell you that lunch was timetabled to finish at 18.30 for you to understand the nature of the “session”.

Before I hit the hay I noticed an email:

We wish to thank you for linking to our site xxxxxx from Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that this link is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

It is important for us to bring our site into compliance with Google’s terms.

Please remove our link from the following page(s):

I’ve removed the links from this post though not from the blog. The two “offending” posts were one that I had written and one which was a guest post from a senior exec in the VoIP industry who also happens to be an old friend.

I replied to the email with the words “you are talking balderdash” (I actually didn’t use the word balderdash but it did start with b) and left it at that. It’s always a bit of a risk to reply to emails like that having spent the afternoon at a charity lunch that drifts into the evening but hey…

This morning I woke up to an email conversational trail that basically agreed with my statement. There is a story behind it. Names are withheld but basically a competitor to my friend’s company had identified hundreds of links to the company’s website and reported them to Google as not being natural.

Google ranks websites by the number and quality of the links into that website. for example gets linked to by the BBC, telegraph guardian and others. This is good in Google’s eyes as these are all highly rated platforms in their own right. I don’t do anything to get these links. They just happen.

Now website owners often pay to generate links. I get many such offers as well as solicitations from people offering free content provided they can insert a link. I turn them all down. If Google were to suspect that was indulging in such activity, or that we were trying to artificially generate links in to us it would be looked upon badly and would begin to affect how we feature in search engine results. ie we wouldn’t feature.

This business can get dirty. Some websites have been know to pay to have such bad links into their competitors’ sites and even to get links in from totally inappropriate sites such as those promoting porn and gambling (I’m told these do exist).

Legit business have to then systematically find these bad links and work their way through the hosts asking for the links to be removed. Alternatively they have to ask Google to not recognise the links.

This is the first time I’ve seen this happen “in the wild” but it is interesting. We did discuss naming the companies involved but concluded this would be too high risk. This stuff all happens in a murky internet underworld and doesn’t get seen by the general public.

Getting back to the lunch. Mehdi is a really top bloke and has spoken at a couple of events the past. His company esna is doing very interesting things in the Google UC space. His guest list represented a roll call of heavy hitters in the communications world. You should expect to hear more from esna.

The lunch was organised by a company called Superskills Experiences run by former rugby players Will Greenwood and Austin Healey. They raise a tremendous amount of cash for good causes. Yesterday was no exception with some of the lots going for £40k or so! Lots of rugby celebs there including Lawrence Dalaglio, Jonny Wilkinson and Sean Fitzpatrick being interviewed on stage In the featured image.

Wales v All Blacks tomorrow. I’ll be there.

Business google phones

iPhone 6 release date – trial web marketing

iPhone 6 release date – blog post used for metrics trial

The iPhone 6 release date is no no interest whatsoever to me other than the fact that the event itself is as usual stirring up lots of interest in the online media. The reason for this is simple. Web based businesses usually make their money in three main ways:

  • online advertising based on page impressions and click throughs
  • affiliate marketing revenues – commissions on sales made as a result of click throughs
  • by selling goods and services

The key to making money is to get high numbers of relevant visitors to your site. A site selling cameras, for example, isn’t going to benefit from someone searching for cars. Google tries to help the searcher by constantly refining its search algorithms.

A subject such as the iPhone 6 release date is going to attract a lot of interest from a fairly wide demographic and represents a good opportunity to convert site visitors to revenues from one or more of the above listed mechanisms. All the “mainstream” media are going to want to use such an event to attract visitors and this they very much do. We get a constant dribble of non-news, rumours, “leaked images” and speculation about specifications. All this despite historical evidence that suggests each launch produces a product that is not very different to its predecessor. Apple et al have great marketing teams.

It is easy to see why the media participates in the hype. The featured image is a screenshot of the Keyword Planner tool supplied by Google to help advertisers with their Adwords campaigns. You can see that there are an awful lot of people (and this is specifically in the UK) searching for iPhone related information1. Almost 785,000 785,ooo searches a month. That’s a lot of visits to compete for. It’s no wonder the media is weighing itself dumbing down with “relevant” clickbait even if the clicked to information is scant.

Our plans for the business include organising events but we also in the process of producing specialist brand sites geared at making money from affiliate marketing. There is a lot of money to be made in commissions from the sales of broadband connections, mobile phone signups etc and the space is already fairly crowded. Participants in this market, essentially that of online deal comparison, can easily make seven figure revenues from a single brand if they are at the top of the Google rankings and have a website well optimised to converting visitors to cash.

At we are getting into the process of website Search Engine Optimisation. It’s fairly standard stuff. You have to include relevant keywords both in your metadata and in your content and have a properly structured site with urls also containing keywords. Links, both inbound and outbound from relevant authoritative sites are also important. These are all things you can work on. We have been writing content for over 6 years with 2,328 posts to show for it. For most of this time scant regard was given to SEO.  The process of going through a large number of posts and optimising them for particular keywords is somewhat lengthy but is ongoing ans will hopefully be worthwhile. At some stage soon we are also going to optimise the URL structure and this is something we will need to take great care over. The last thing we want to do is to break a ton of existing inbound links.

In tandem with this we look at the behaviour of visitors when they arrive at the site. In an ideal world you want to keep your visitors for as long as possible and have them click on as many pages as possible. Each new click is s potential source of advertising revenue. Google, with its Analytics tool, provides some help in doing this but doesn’t provide a complete picture of the visitor behaviour.

We have just signed up with Crazy Egg which should give us a graphical representation of the behaviour of visitors to the site. Who clicks where and when. By tracking this information we should be able to improve the site so that more people click on more links. In one sense doing this for is just a learning curve for the real work which will be on subsidiary brands such as (coming soon) which will be our first foray into the affiliate marketing game.

This post, which is using what must be a highly popular search term in iPhone 6 release date (60,500 searches though low competition for the term, presumably because there is currently no money to be made out of the iPhone 6 because it isn’t yet available) is really an engine to monitor the behaviour of readers of the post.

If you are specifically looking for the iPhone 6 release date the word has it it is 9th September. I’m not publishing any images though I did get a sneak preview of the Samsung Galaxy S5 logo before it came out – check it out here.

Surprisingly the iPhone 4s is one of the most used search terms in the UK with 201,000 searches a month.

End User google mobile connectivity phones

Mobile Phone in Spain – Holiday Tech

Mobile phone in Spain is very useful whilst on holiday – this post was written mostly in the shade by the pool.

Some of you will have noted on my Facebook timeline that I have been on holiday for most of August. At the moment I’m in Cala D’Or in Mallorca. Sat in the shade on the hotel terrace looking down on a moored yacht. Abba in the background:) The use of my mobile phone in Spain proved indispensable.

When we got here the first thing I did was to establish the comms position. Hotel WiFi was cheap at only 10 Euros per device for the 12 days of our stay. However I didn’t want to encourage to the kids to spend all their time on their laptops so I opted for the 1 free hour a day per person.

Next thing I did was source a Spanish sim. Mobistar 1GB for 20 Euros. I needed it to work the sat nav. We had a private transfer from the airport when we landed and had a hire car delivered to the hotel the following day. I needed the Sat Nav to make sure I could find my way back to the hotel the following day after picking up the heir who was arriving a day afer us.

translate_spainAs it turned out the Mobistar sim came in handy for other purposes. Kid3’s specs broke and the nearest optician was in the next town. I found the optician using google and then maps to get there. I took a pic of the street sign in case I couldn’t find my way back to the car.

I also did this in the huge underground car park in the centre of Palma. At least I took a pic of the parking bay number so that I couldn’t forget where I parked – easily done when you are using a hire car. Interesting to see car parks with red and green lights above each bay to indicate whether there was space.

The optician couldn’t fix the specs so we hunted down a supermarket using google maps to buy some superglue. We then used google translate to find out the spanish word for glue and showed it to an assistant.

We used TripAdvisor to determine where to eat each evening. By and large this was highly successful. We mostly ended up with great family run restaurants. Cala D’Or is very touristy and there were a lot of places I’d say were transplanted from Benidorm (though I haven’t been to Benidorm) and geared at the Fosters drinker. TV screens all over the place.

Restaurante Selani was #2 on TripAdvisor behind an Ice Cream kiosk at #1. The food was good enough to engender a very positive response from Kid4, the gastronome of the family. TripAdvisor did however make us 20 minutes late for the table as it took us to a spot only 60 metres away but across the marina. The 60 metres took 20 minutes to walk!

Every pub and restaurant in Cala D’Or, everywhere we went in Mallorca in fact, had free wifi. Whilst I had my 1GB sim the benefit of the wifi was the automatic backing up of my holiday snaps to Google+ which only happens in WiFi range. Upload was consistently slow though.

holiday mobile data usageWith three days of our holiday left I had 120MB left of the 1Gig.  MIght just last. Ran out with two days to go. Usage has been pretty linear and has consisted of mostly twitter, facebook, reading the papers and keeping up with email. We also streamed the Halifax v Lincoln City game (3-2 unfortunately) using iPlayer. After the first couple of days we didn’t need to use the sat nav other than to find the occasional restaurant.

Whilst I had some of my bundle left I preferred to use mobile data that any free wifi that might have been on offer. It was clearly based on ADSL with generally poor upload and download. I also noted that the Facebook mobile experience was not very good. It often timed out saying there was no network connection whilst I could access other sites such as the BBC with no trouble.

We left Mallorca with a healthy tan and some great memories. It was noticeable though that our home FTTC based Wifi was so much better. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief when they got their gadgets out at home.

It might be argued that we shouldn’t have needed any connectivity whilst on holiday. However you can see from my experiences above that having a mobile phone in Spain was very useful.  This technology is becoming part and parcel of our everyday lives and why shouldn’t you have it. My experience of being without a phone whilst it was being fixed also brought me to the same conclusion. Why shouldn’t we use the tech. It is useful.

That’s it for now. Summer is over, holidays are over (for now) and it’s time to get back to work. There is a fairly packed programme on the blog in the run up to Christmas. Check out the schedule here.

Hasta la vista baby.


End User fun stuff google phones

OK Google – we interrupt this holiday…

OK Google ad on TV made me try it out and it worked brilliantly

An ad for OK Google came on the TV. It was all about where to find the nearest cake shop. I immediately tried it. It worked perfectly. Just liked it did on the telly.

It was astonishingly accurate. I’ve since tried it for other things. The weather forecast for example. I said “OK Google , what’s the weather forecast tomorrow?” it not only came up with the forecast for my postcode but a voice spoke it.ok google weather

Voice recognition technology has seriously come of age. I remember years ago buying a Dragon voice rec software package. I used to be the Press Officer for Lincoln Rugby Club. I had a theory that I could dictate details of matches onto my Sony voice recorder and then use the voice rec software to turn it into text.

It never worked. In those days the software had to be trained, PCs weren’t powerful enough and in any case there was too much wind noise for it to have a chance.

Given a suitable mobile data connection I think it would work now with me dictating straight into the phone.

Getting back to the weather forecast one has to be glad that it is looking good for the first day of my holiday:) Plenty of time for it to go wrong yet but I’m sure that OK Google will keep me posted.

OK Google isn’t perfect. I just asked it “what should I wear tomorrow?” It came up with clothing advice sites. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted it to to tell me which combination of shorts and tshirt I should get out of the drawer. It’ll get there.

After that it will need to pre-empt my needs by ordering my clothes for me from the shop. Life will be full of surprises.

Ok Google. Time for bed. No answer required. Just letting you know.

Engineer google

Lost in translation – Google Translate Ukrainian, Chrome and The Huffington Post cc@tonyhatfield

Google translate Ukrainian offer is v odd reports reader @tonyhatfield

Today, using my Nexus 7 running KitKat and the latest version of Google Chrome, I clicked on a link to the Huffington Post. A page appeared asking me if I wanted to translate from Ukrainian. Here’s a screenshot. V odd considering the page is clearly in English. Not sure if the Huffington Post has an Ukrainian edition!

google translate ukrainian

Then I tried accessing the page using my Vaio Win7 again using the latest version of Chrome browser. This time no translation request.

no google translate ukrainian

As a tiebreaker up to my Dell desktop again running Win7 and latest Google browser.Again the Google translate Ukrainian offer appeared. This time with no reference to ‘Ukrainian’.

Seems very odd!

Can anyone enlighten us on why this may be happening. My first thought when hearing about the Ukrainian translation bit was that maybe his ISP was using a block of IP addresses originally allocated to a provider in the Ukraine. Sounds like some Ukrainian mobster has latched on to the black market for IPv4 I thought.

I recall a few years ago seeing the Swedish version of the Google search page when travelling on the Eastcoast train to London. This was because the train’s satellite link connected to a ground station in Sweden. Not seen that since so whatever that glitch was clearly temporary and is now fixed.

However when hearing that it only happened on 2 out of 3 devices that seemed to rule that scenario out. The mix of Operating Systems also seems to rule out an OS related issue.

Anyone out there got any thoughts on why this might have happened? Something to do with the Huffington Posts page maybe?  Answers on a postcard, comment (pref) or tweet. I’m sure there will be a few people interested in finding out what was happening.

Google translate has other useful uses – check out this post about bypassing Virgin Media web filters to access Pirate Bay.

Update Sunday 27th July: Just surfing Majorca related subjects on my droid and found myself at an olive oil related website (fwiw – off there on hols in August). To my delight I was offered a translation from Ukrainian. I thought this screenshot would serve as a worthy update to this post.

Ciao bella…

Ukrainian google translate

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!

Apps End User fun stuff gadgets google H/W internet piracy

Yes, I Read Super Hero Comic Books

There are far worse things you can carry from childhood to adulthood than super hero comic books (and fewer that look better on your tablet screen).

For me, super hero comic books are just one of those things. I loved them as a child in single digits, continued to look in on them occasionally (and sometimes more often than that) through my teens, and plugged in harder than ever when Frank Miller and Alan Moore took them to the edge of serious dark pop art in my early 20s. I suppose I lost the thread somewhat as my 30s approached, though I am not sure if that was me or the simple fact that both Marvel and DC jettisoned creative storytelling during the 1990s in favor of marketing tricks designed to make every issue a collectible (not to forget to mention doubling the price of single issues…and then doubling it again). Regardless, moving to Paris — a land where reading comic books is less a geek tattoo and more proof of an enlightened mind — hooked me back in kinda-sorta, a side effect of my haunting the English language comic shops in and around the Rue Dante lying in wait for the latest can’t-miss graphic novels by the likes of Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, and Daniel Clowes, among many others. And I am sure that is where I would be today — hooked back in kinda-sorta — were it not for the darn things all going digital.

I don’t recall the first time I read a comic book on a computer, though it certainly predates my 2008 Mac re-entry. I do remember, though, how awkward it felt, viewing each scanned page one at a time before moving on to the next page using the → key or the Space bar. I also remember how annoying it was to have to hit the ← key repeatedly to go back to check some plot detail I skimmed past (annoyance that was multiplied by having to then hit the → key repeatedly to return to where I had left off). It all felt so trivial at the start, so “Take it or leave it.” And I left it. For a while, anyway, I left it.

Mostly, I left it. OK, every now and again, usually nipping at the heels of 3AM, I would download some issue in the Batman or Daredevil scheme of things and indulge (won’t say how or from where or whether it was a legal happenstance or not, no way). Just to stay up on the story, you know? Keeping up with the characters, these old friends of mine from childhood/teenagehood/young adulthood..whichever ‘hood I am inhabiting as I barrel towards 50.

And then My Missus brought home the iPad.

Like so many of us, I was tuned into the whispers and rumors of the iPad that were flying thick and furious during the back half of ‘09 and up through its introduction by Steve Jobs in late January of 2010. By the time of that announcement, though, I had driven an iPhone around the town a little bit without falling under its spell, and at first blush the iPad looked like nothing more than an iPhone on growth hormone. Interesting? Sure. Curious? You bet, because it was the birth of a new gadget category (and, naturally, because it was a new Apple product). Necessary? Uh…no. Not for anyone who had access to a computer and/or smartphone, anyway.

Not long after the iPad announcement I was able to put my hands and fingers on one of the first to make it to France. I can slide the apps pages back and forth. Smooth. I can touch an icon and open an app. Expected. It plays music and movies. Hmm. OK. Here you go, and thanks for letting me play with your new iPad. Enjoy. Oh…uh…can you make phone calls with it?

So getting back on track…a first-generation iPad made its way past over the Chez Kessel moat towards the end of ‘10, courtesy of My Missus, who as a publisher had been tasked with starting down the path of developing textbooks for the darn thing. Again, I held an iPad in my hands, and again I swiped the screen from side to side, touched app icons to watch the apps open, and clocked that it could be used to input music and video content. Then just as I was about to hand it back I had the thought, “I can read .pdf files on it, and book files in Amazon’s .mobi format…maybe…YES!”

Digital comic books, most often traded in .cbr (Comic Book Reader) and .cbz (Comic Book Zip), had proved to be a somewhat strange experience on a computer screen, but the iPad looked like it just might be a worthy delivery vehicle for suchness. And when a short google-bing turned up info on Cloudreaders, a free program able to read files in these two file formats (.pdf, too), I was on my way back to regular sustained web-slinging, shield-wielding, power-ringing, bataranging, billy-clubbing, hammer-throwing, repulsor-raying…OK, I’m OK. Can stop that now.

Now I had the means and the method, but what about the content? Well, as I stated earlier WITHOUT ADMITTING TO ANY INAPPROPRIATE ACTION OR BEHAVIOR, at some point I became aware of ways in which a person with an interest in doing so could easily obtain digital super hero comic books and at no cost. Speaking further about that person and their interest, it is a fact that pulp science fiction and comic books were among the very first pieces of “analogue” reading materials to be fan-digitized, to the point now where it is seriously difficult to think of content that cannot be had, ripe and ready for e-reading (and quickly, at that). Just to illustrate, do-do-that-goo(gle)goo(gle)-that-you-do-so-well on the following terms: “Complete Marvel Chronology” and look for links to Internet file-sharing destinations that I AM NOT TELLING YOU TO CLICK-THROUGH TO.

To close, I will share here that I really was (am!) one of those cliched kids whose now-priceless super hero comic book collection fell victim to tragic circumstances. In my case, “tragic” means a parental ultimatum issued: I could sell my comics at our “We’re Moving” yard sale or I could give them away, but there was no way they were being placed on the truck that would complete our summer 1976 family transfer from Chicago to Dallas. I unloaded hundreds of valuable pulpy friends* for $0.07 to $0.10 each on that August day, imagining not for a moment that I might be reunited with them someday down some dusty ol’ digital road (feel free to replace “digital road” with “information superhighway” if you must, because I just cannot bring myself to do so).

*Valuable to me, that is. Despite all of the ballyhoo I offer, my comic book collection wasn’t priceless…most of the issues were in tattered well-read condition, in fact, and fewer than five pre-dated 1970. I did, though, have issues 121, 122, and 129 of “The Amazing Spider-Man”, and you most assuredly did not.

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Uber London Integrated with Google Maps

Uber is now very cleverly integrated with Google Maps and appears in the list of options of directions for public transport – Uber London

On a visit to Telehouse  in London Docklands I checked out the optimum directions to get there using Google Maps. To my surprise Uber came up as an option. This is very impressive.

It made me think of Uber London as the taxiing equivalent to Tesco: a large organisation with the clout to develop tools that help it sell and make money. Uber is the Tesco, black cabs are the small retail outlets being affected by the new out of town superstore.

What’s more Uber appeared on the list uber-discreetly. I didn’t feel it was being shoved in my face. Indeed I was surprised and delighted to see it there. Google must in anycase have rules about that sort of thing. Can’t have a third party muscling in too robustlyon its act.

Presumably one has to have the Uber App installed which I do. Selecting the Uber option in “directions” takes you to the app. You will recall that I only recently installed Uber whilst in London for the Pissup In A Brewery which helped me out in getting a car from South Bermondsey to Kings Cross Station.

On this latest trip I needed to get from Crawford Street in W1 to Mitre Passage in Greenwich S10. As it happens on this occasion it is just as easy, and certainly a lot cheaper, to get the Jubilee line on the Underground. It involves only a short walk either side although summer on the tube ain’t great.

The Uber option didn’t appear when I used Maps on my Chromebook. This is something that Google might want to consider in their roadmap – the convergence of Android and Chromebook ecosystems.

Uber London – you know it makes sense, or Uber all I’d say Uber London was a winner:)

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The Hump Day Five (2-July-2014)


Friday afternoon found me riding the Eurostar rails, on KoryChrome (new Samsung Chromebook 2*), pounding out on a “First Impressions” piece…on KoryChrome. Using Writebox, one of those sometimes-useful writing applications that are intended to take the distraction out of the process, I was about 700 words into it when for reasons unknown I decided to go exploring. A sparse environment — which, of course, is the point — there were only six (6) icons to check out in the upper right-hand corner (which conveniently hide when you aren’t hovering your cursor over the spot), and as I was enjoying my new application and curious about it I thought I’d see what I could do with it.

Faux Leather Stitching!

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty about what the Writebox icons are for (syncing, settings, preview…the usual), except suffice it to say for the one that has me typing here now, a + symbol in the farmost left position on the very short toolbar. That particular icon opens a new Writebox file that effectively dumped my nearly-finished “Hello (again) KoryChrome” post into the ether of lost-forever 1s and 0s.

Infuriation and frustrating, yes, and the prospect of starting the post from scratch makes me shudder (still haven’t gotten around to that, but keep reading)…but from the I-can-rationalize-anything perspective, I am truly glad that as I make my approach on 50 I am still able to touch the hot part of the stove.

*Handed off to me by good ol’ globehopping Tref at our Pissup in a Brewery event this past Thursday at Fourpure Brewery in Bermondsey…if you missed it you are the lesser for having done so, but there will certainly be others so watch this space.


As long as I have the date here pinned to my short trip to London last week, I will burn a line or two on my latest experience with airbnb. Finding a reasonably-priced non-lethal-seeming accommodation for said trip that was within the Underground’s boundaries proved to be quite the challenge (only later did I realize this was due in no small part to Wimbledon being among the other usual goings-on in London), but eventually I did manage to wrangle a roof and bed in the tiny Bermondsey flat of a young couple (complete with an adorable 3-month-old kitten named Binxy). This being my third airbnb experience I was hoping it would be the charm, and I am glad to report that it was just that. If you consider yourself something of a brave traveler and have not yet taken a chance on airbnb or one of the other Internet home-invite services that are shaking up the hospitality industry, well this is me adding to the white noise urging you to do so.


The “Broadband Week” is coming up fast and I am furiously editing away on received submissions. That said, if you have an idea for a Contributor post that aligns with our theme there is still a sliver of time remaining to pitch it and get it in for publication next week. So if you want to see your name up on our marquee, please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected]. I will be glad to help you bring your epiphany to the page.


Last week in London I finally got my hands on a Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, the little-bit-country-little-bit-rock-and-roll smartphone I have been kvelling over quite a bit here since its announcement two months ago, and I was far from disappointed. With new gadgets I wait for that special tingle (usually it comes from putting fingers on the device, but there are no hard-and-fast rules about that), and once I feel that it is just a matter of determining whether its strength is enough to kick me into “Want”. Consider me kicked well and good. Just need to find a way to get my provider to subsidize the pocket beast…


My lead-in KoryChrome tidbit illustrated for the umpteenthsomething time that I could do with a few more smarts, and I expect that my Hump Day Five wrap-up for the week is sure to remove any lingering doubt.

Hot off the Eurostar back to Paris on Friday I found myself in a rented Škoda barreling towards our tiny family hovel in Pays d’Auge’s Blangy-le-Château. Over the 8 years La Famille Kessel has so often made the jaunt that certain routines have formed, including for me the ritual of connecting AppleKory up — power source, monitor converter, USB peripherals, etc — and at visit’s end, disconnecting it all. Sounds simple and is simple, though early on I did once make the gross error of leaving my MacBook Pro power adapter behind. This resulted in a frantic run to the Apple Store Carrousel du Louvre upon arriving back in Paris that Sunday evening to buy a new one. As with all things Apple, the new power adapter wasn’t cheap, but the impossible alternative was to go a few weeks with a single battery charge. And in the end, the €69 I pushed across for it has turned out to be quite a good investment, both for peace-of-mind (it lives in my computer bag, making it possible to always leave the original at home) and from a value standpoint (darn thing has put in 7+ years of service and counting).

So. Routine. Routine is good. And as so often happens when a routine undergoes any kind of change, things go pear-shaped. Last night, just as France was putting the spank to Nigeria to reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil quarter finals, the new KoryChrome’s battery slid down to 2% and I realized I had left her charger back in Blangy. Not too long after she became just a sleek good-looking techy brick, and will remain so until the Friday following the next (or until I can suss out a replacement, of course…for a new product that is not yet for sale on the right side of the Atlantic).

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Bitcoin exchange UK – First Bitcoin exchange to get a UK Bank Account

Further steps towards the endorsement of Bitcoin as a currency by both USA and UK governments with the opening of a Bitcoin exchange in UK and the Bitcoin Auction in the USA.

Bitcoin exchange UK – City of London based Bitcoin exchange now has a bank account in the Isle of Man. RBS – UK government owned & connected to the faster payments network (RBS is probably in need of every source of income it can get).

This coincides with yesterday’s US Marshals Service (USMS) auction of 29,000 bitcoins confiscated from Silk Road last year. A number of parties have stated that they took part in the auction but bids as high as $650 were insufficient. The Bitcoin price at the time was around $610. This morning the bitcoin market price is up to around $650 with rumours on Twitter that it could go as high as $900 (don’t buy based on what I’m saying here 🙂 )

The real news is the effective endorsement of Bitcoin as a currency by both the US and UK governments. A Bitcoin exchange in the UK it is of particular interest as hitherto you have had to buy and sell Bitcoins offshore.

The fact that the IOM based offshoot of RBS is involved does point to a tentative first toe dip in the Bitcoin water by UK Gov. Further endorsement comes from the fact that Bitcoin is actively monitored by Google’s Finance ages – see featured pic/screenshot. Today’s GBP is £386 which is up 32% from when I bought my Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is becoming accepted by more and more businesses. I note that today US online electronics outlet Newegg is now taking the currency. I might even consider taking payments for ads on in Bitcoin. Watch this space for further news on this.

You might have heard it first on

Bank account details (not all but I have them):

Account Name:  Capital Account
Bank Name: Royal Bank of Scotland
Account Number: ********
Sort Code: 16-58-80
IBAN: ****************
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Office365 – How Low Can You Go ?

It seems to me that a tipping point has arrived for businesses large and small, many of which after having drastically cut back on their IT spend over the last few years now find themselves coasting into 2014 on the fumes and vapours of Windows XP and Office 2003/7.

Andrew Beardsmore is a new contributor to and this is his first post. He’s been obsessed by tech for two decades and has spent most of that time fixing everything from networks to netbooks. Now he’s sharing the knowledge, and the obsession.

I recently had a bit of a tweetup with @EvanKirstel regarding Microsoft’s amazing deal with Office365 (check it out at:

It seems to me that a tipping point has arrived for businesses large and small, many of which after having drastically cut back on their IT spend over the last few years now find themselves coasting into 2014 on the fumes and vapours of Windows XP and Office 2003/7.


Home users who extravagantly trotted off to Currys/PCWorld during their “hey, we’re going bust” sales and splurged on full versions of more recent MS Office software (though intending to only blow a few hundred quid on a chunky Windows 8 laptop) probably won’t have heard yet of Office365. They also may not have noticed those early ChromeBooks, or if they did they weren’t entirely convinced by the PCWorld sales folk when faced with what looked like Ubuntu. That is, Ubuntu without a hard drive…or apps.* Their new high capacity laptop hard drives, overflowing with growing photo libraries from flashy megamegapixel point-&-shoots, are already laughing at their puny free two gigabyte Dropbox accounts, and buying yet another discounted external USB hard drive ‘My Brick’ to backup and fill with all their pics and videos of school plays and homework projects, as well as every family member’s iPad/iPod/iPhone backup…well, it just seems so ‘2011’, doesn’t it?

Now these home users are included in this mini-cloud revolution also. (Not every household bought a NAS — though perhaps they should have — as they ARE expensive. Expensive, anyway, when compared to the wares peddled by Microsoft.)

In my opinion, the principles are broadly similar whether you are purchasing enterprise licensing or you are a home user “with a lot of stuff”.

  • Both need humongous space and/or backup and want a whizzy new version of Office.
  • Both want to be able to access it all whilst mobile (even if your mobile data provider hasn’t heard of your holiday home’s postcode, and thus offline editing is also needed).
  • Both want to share and collaborate.

With monthly offers that include an Office365 subscription (spanning multiple devices and user accounts) AND one terabyte of online storage now available for less than the cost of three lattes, just how cheap does it all need to be? And would you trust it if it got any cheaper ?

How does $7 a month sound? (In dollars because — Yup — stateside rollout first.) For this amount you can put Office365 on your PC and get a terabyte of storage thrown in. Make it $10 and you can install on five PCs and have as many as five user accounts (each with its own terabyte of online storage). A terabyte? That’s one thousand gigabytes for those of us with suntans and more interest in Wimbledon than “The IT Crowd” reruns.

Interestingly, Microsoft commissioned a recent survey and decided that about three quarters of us only have about thirteen gigabytes of ‘stuff’, so one thousand gigabytes should pretty much cover it. To be honest, though, this number sounds like it’s been picked more to justify their updated freemium offering of a fifteen gigabyte deal.

Many will forget about their Dropbox accounts, mothball their GoogleDrive accounts, lose the power supply plugs and mini USB cables for their ‘My Bricks’ (and never again dream of owning a NAS). They’ll take the plunge into subscriptions-based software purchasing** just for the great one terabyte ‘giveaway’ alone. Got a smartphone that you take pics on? How about letting it backup all those precious shots automatically to OneDrive (smile!).

Think about it. Never again will you need to go through a ‘fork-lift’ upgrade process between versions of Office — remember the advent of the blasted ribbon in Office 2007? — as your device will instead accept the more frequent but gradual improvements and changes in the same way your smartphone updates its apps whilst you sleep. It will backup and sync continuously, silently, all the time. If you’re a small to medium business, what this means is that the guy who takes the backup tapes home every night and puts a new one in every morning won’t have to continue to lie each time he forgets. Or you can rethink your price plan with MozyPro, or whoever. The AD-like control you get over the data it handles will sufficiently please both your sysadmin and your CIO/CISO.

Many will consider Microsoft’s new 1TB + Office365 $7 per month subscription a no-brainer. And, if you’re bulk buying for business, the deal gets even better, as according to the third link I offer below it is just $2.50 (yearly commitment). Such a huge saving is certain to ensure your continuing position with the company, that is if you can persuade your CFO. And if against all odds it turns out to be a rubbish idea and they fire you, well, they can just cancel your user subscription!

N.B. I wonder how many smaller partnerships and LLPs will be tempted to take the home licensing route on their mixed-usage mobile devices…pay the $10 five-user rate, out of guilt, and call it BYOD when it’s in the office?!

*Company-wide Chromebook deployment: Great way to to upgrade to a modern OS, get a new office productivity suite, AND equip your workforce with mobile devices for less than the price of a desktop refresh. I want to know more about the experiences of companies who have ‘gone Google’ in this manner. I like what I have seen so far with Google Appcare. However, having recently dropped their cloud offering’s pricing, I wonder how they feel about Microsoft’s new deal? To quote mine host, it’s “certainly warming up in the cloud wars”).

**Just quietly say ouch and forget it’s happening.

Chase the following links for specific details and price plans for Office365 and OneDrive:

Thanks for reading. You can find more on the subject of Office365 and similar tech at

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The Hump Day Five (25-June-2014)

On Wednesday’s Editor-in-Chief serves up The Hump Day Five, a weekly collection of short (and not so short) glimpses of the life in progress.


Bolting to meet My Missus for a Pay-For-Weekend-Well-Spent swim (the value of which we will immediately negate with a hearty follow-up Mexican lunch), and just realized that my mobile phone charge is at 9%. And being that this is my still-hanging-on iPhone 4 that ‘9’ might as we’ll be a ‘2’ as over the three-something years iPhoneKory has occupied my key right-pocket space I have seen it go from 7% to black so many times…

Is seven the new zero?


Despite promising myself I wouldn’t do so, I hung until 02h00 on Sunday/Monday watching the USA-Portugal World Cup match on ESPN via SlingBox, all the way to its bittersweet 95th minute. And in spite of a poor connection and a wildly unbalanced announcer team (Ian Darke = terrific, Taylor Twellman = dead awful), and although France has been my one-and-only International association football team since I moved to Paris in 1999*, I could not help but get caught up in it all. This was helped along in no small measure by social media, as both my Facebook and Twitter feeds were crackling with excitement and the wonderful over-the-top enthusiasm borne of sports spectatorship. Every breakaway, clearance, crossover, save (Tim Howards’s remarkable double-save!), and goal, by the USA or Portugal, had my feeds flying fast. But with that insane last play, with less than 25 ticks left in Injury Time…silence.

Yes, silence. The stunned heartbreak of that gorgeous equalizer — its sheer beauty cannot be denied — led to what may very well be the loudest imaginable Internet silence I’ve ever (not) heard. I have no doubt that goal was replaying on constant loop through the minds of a great many Americans on Monday, I am just as certain it was doing so in a soundproof vacuum.

*No true lover of the “Beautiful Game” will ever forget France’s unbelievablyf*ckingamazing come-from-behind last-gasp victory against Italy in the Euro2000 final, a game…no, an experience that galvanized this transplanted American’s association football fandom.


Readers going back three months — my long-term dyed-in-the-wool fans — will remember my enthusiasm for the latest Marvel Studios film, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, and perhaps even the near-pathological (pathetic) need I had to see the film after having to wait 10 days following its release to find my way to the cinema. (And no matter if you aren’t one of those readers, because my preface sentence sets the table for where I am heading, regardless.)

With all of the build-up, all of the hype, the fact that I so thoroughly enjoyed “Captain America: First Avenger” (I expected to hate that first film as the character is an all-time favorite of mine — since I started reading super hero comic books at the age of eight — and just figured there was no way Hollywood could get it right), the scads of terrific reviews I was so careful to scan-without-spoiling, you would think that disappointment was inevitable. Not only was this not the case, though, but the film so deeply captured my imagination that I soon after found myself pondering a newed look in on the comic book itself, figuring the source material for such a great flick might be worth my time.

In days of yore (and up until actually not all that long ago), it was a lot more difficult to find and read back issues of comic books than it is today. In fact, without admitting to anything here or anywhere, I will say that despite my predilection for riding near the cusp of the Internet for lo on 20+ years now, I still find myself utterly floored by the ready digital availability of comic books new and old (and extremely old). A minimal amount of surfing revealed that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was based on Ed Brubaker’s run on the “Captain America” title from 2004-2012, and a single google-bing turned up the following torrent:

Brubaker Cap Torrent



In less than a year I will turn 50, a number on the age scale that I know is supposed to mean…something. A greater sense of dignity? Less prone to silly excitements? Better perspective on what was and is and will be? Conversations turning ever more towards health issues? Yadda yadda yadda. To all of that, I have to call “Bunk!”, because (1) in my mind’s eye I am not balding, overly thick in the middle, saddled with mild hearing loss, or in need of glasses to read, (2) I feel no less a thirst for life than I did 10 years ago…or 20, and (3) I still get all kinds of giddy in the lead up to putting my mitts on new techy toys…such as the new KoryChrome (Samsung Chromebook 2), which I look forward to running my fingers over for the first time at some point tomorrow!


Today is the first day of summer vacation for The Boy, and he is marking it in style, sitting on the couch in front of the TV while simultaneously playing both “Minecraft” and “SimCity 4” with friends on his MacBook, and also looking in on “Clash of Clans” via the family iPad. Now if only he could get his toes engaged in some kind of input manipulation My Missus and I would have one reasonably efficient and well-entertained child! The drums, perhaps?

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Travel times to Oxford and mobile phone car kits

lincoln to oxford by public transportAs previously mentioned am picking up kid1 from Oxford today and transplanting him to Laandan, innit.  Just checked on travel times with google maps to see when I need to set off. Intended to go to the gym before hitting the road. Unfortunately I haven’t got time to go to the gym. Google tells me the trip will take 2 hours 37 minutes to do the 132 miles and I will also want to stop for a spot of lunch, a cheeky KFC maybe (only for convenience when travelling of course).

That means I should have headed to the gym a good half an hour ago. Ah well.

In looking at google maps I wondered how long it would take to walk. That would make up for not going to the gym. 40 hours but only 121 miles. It’s a more direct route and avoids motorways obvs. Not practical as I need to be in Oxford by 2pm and the whole point of the journey is that I need the car to carry all kid1’s stuff. Taking public transport is also not an option as it would take 3 hours 42 mins and as per the walking option we wouldn’t have the car to carry his stuff in our onward direction.

For completeness I thought you’d like to know that were I to cycle it should take 12 hours 3 minutes to do the 141 miles. Don’t ask why they tell cyclists to take a longer route than the pedestrians. Maybe the latter uses pedestrian precincts for part of the trip. Would make sense as one could probably buy a sandwich and a bottle of water from a shop from the pedestrian precinct. The getting there by plane option is greyed out, presumably because google realises that Lincoln only has RAF airfields and no commercial airport.

It does somewhat come as a surprise that google hasn’t recommended any hotels for an overnight stay on both the pedestrian and cycling maps. Surely they don’t think I’d be able to walk for 40 hours without an overnight stay. It would be a miracle if I could walk that distance full stop, without getting into training for it. Same applies for the cycling – one’s bum would get particularly sore I’d imagine.

So the car is it and it is nearly time for me to hit the road. Before I go I’d like to relate a telephone conversation with Kevin Murphy of BT (he of running the Olympics project for BT fame and who now runs voice for that company). I was at the garage getting my car boot hydraulics fixed so that the boot would stay up without my having to use a broom handle to prop it up – v handy when moving a kid from Oxford to Laandan. I was on my mobile in the garage canteen room with table and chair and the darn phone got cut off three times. It as only after the third time and I was looking out of the window when I saw Dave the mechanic gesturing.  Whenever he moved the car the bloomin hands free system took over the phone audio and I lost the conversation.

I switched off bluetooth, rang Kevin back again and finished the discussion. Kevin is coming to do the Keynote speech at ITSPA’s forthcoming 10th Anniversary celebrations on July 3rd. Check it out here. If you are in the VoIP game you should be there.

That’s it. Gotta go to Oxford. Ciao.

Other fairly interesting google maps posts:

Jet tries to land in Russell Square
Google location incorrect since moving home

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Wherefore Art Thou, KoryChrome?

Knowing that Tref was heading over to the U.S. for this week’s Genband Perspectives 14, I asked the fearless namesake of the cracking website you hold in your hands if he would be up to muling a spiffy new Samsung Chromebook 2 back over the pond for my pickup at’s Pissup in a Brewery (which you really don’t want to miss) later this month. Unsurprisingly, he responded with a hearty “Sure, M8.” and I was off to the races…well, off to find a shipper who could deliver the device shipping-free and tax-free to Tref at his Orlando hotel prior to his return flight, that is.

Naturally, my first surf-to destination was, however although they had my desired Chromebook in stock I would have to pay extra for both shipping and sales tax (6%). Sales tax? Amazon? Said to be on the cusp for years, I guess some law somewhere was passed and it finally took hold.

Next I tried, which promised free shipping…and no sales tax. Oh, except in states in which the company has a physical business presence, such as Florida. Needed to go all the way to the final click to learn that (and confirmed it with a Samsung Phone Drone, too).

Finally, after a few more hits-and-misses my search ended at New York’s famous B&H, which not only promised free shipping to the Sunshine State but a tax-free transaction as well. The only problem was that I would have to wait a little over 30 hours to actually place the order due to my having stumbled onto the B&H site during the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, because although you can peruse B&H’s website during Jewish holy days — the Sabbath each week, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the two-day periods that bookend Sukkoth and Passover…and Shavuot — you cannot actually place an order while any of these days are in progress. To their credit, B&H clearly indicates such restrictions on their site when pertinent, even going so far as to offer a very useful countdown clock on the site that indicates when they will once again be open for business. Free shipping, no sales tax, a one-week window for it all to happen in…I could wait 30 hours.

Faux Leather Stitching!

The reviews are rolling in on the Chromebook 2, and while they aren’t universally great — it’s certainly no “Jesus Phone” — they reflect my expectations for the my soon-to-be-new friend and then some. Sleek, light, stylish (that faux black leather case and stitching!), the Chromebook 2 also has a lot more under its keyboard than its predecessor (which was NOT saddled with the moniker “Chromebook 1”), being markedly faster and offering a somewhat better screen and trackpad. All good stuff. Good enough, in fact, to pull me back into the Chromebooked less than four short months after having eBayed the original KoryChrome back in February. References to “The Godfather, Part III” unnecessary.

30 hours later. 09h00 Eastern Standard Time (15h00 in Paris’s GMT+1), and following a quick touch-base with a B&H Phone Drone (who assures me the package will arrive on the promised date of 12-June, which is one day to spare…might even show up on the 11th) I pull the B&H trigger on Chromebook 2. And less than 30 minutes later I learn that my delivery window is short by a day due to my having boneheaded the nitty-gritty detail of Tref’s #orlandoroadtrip. Yes, our man’s adventure runs from 6-June to 13-June, but he is actually set to clear U.S. on 12-June…the day B&H Phone Drone near-guaranteed the new KoryChrome would make its grand entrance in Orlando.

Did I really do that? Me, the guy who in the past 15 years has overnight-flighted the Atlantic no less than 120 times? Well, no matter. Chromebook 2 hadn’t shipped by this point — B&H was happy to take the order on the Friday, but due to the Sabbath it woudn’t actually ship until Sunday — and I was relatively sure I could cancel it if need be. So I pinged Tref, just to let him know my swirling thoughts on it all. He clued me into his late-ish departure time on 12-June, and with that I made my leap of faith (into the abyss?), opting to let the order fly. After all, even if the package misses Tref in Orlando, how hard could it be to arrange for its return via the hotel, United Parcel Service, and B&H? (He writes with a touch of both sarcasm and extreme naiveté.)

And that is where things stand on this fine late spring Wednesday. B&H confirmed my order on Sunday via an efficient email, and I know that the package left Maspeth, NY on Monday evening. Where between Maspeth and Orlando it is now, though, is nothing more than a WAG, though ever-faithful readers are welcome — encouraged, even! — to join me in attempting to track the new KoryChrome’s voyage to Orlando. Crossed fingers, good thoughts, focused karmic energy, muttered chanting, speaking in tongues…whatever any of you have to give that can help ensure the new KoryChrome’s safe passage into Tref’s hands, I’ll take it!

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Reduce data usage with Chrome

chrome data usage Came across this by accident but I think it is pretty cool.

I’m not particularly bothered about my data usage. I don’t come close to my limits either on my broadband connection or my SIM.

Still think it’s good that Chrome does this though.

PS this post had 6 LinkedIn shares in the space of 30 mins after going live – good eh?

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Band Camp Coincidences

Google Glass. Telephony. Synchronicity

At my age, you would think that I would be long past adolescent self-consciousness; that I wouldn’t feel awkward with the geeky way of thinking. A girl that I had a crush on back in the 2nd Grade said to me, “You talk funny. You talk like a scientist.”, referring to my vocabulary. At that age this wasn’t a compliment, nor was it really a criticism. It did not, though, bode well for any potential romantic entanglements.

On the way to the conference I find myself sitting next to two attractive, well dressed middle-age women, three abreast in the aisle seat. We start the long first leg of the flight with a little small talk. We are flying together from Dallas to Albuquerque, where they will leave the plane prior to its flying on to Seattle (my destination).

“What’s in Seattle?” they both ask.

I feel like I’m on my way to band camp. What do I say to them? I tell the truth.

“I’m going to speak at a conference on Content Management – a technology conference.”, I say.

“Oh. Technology stuff.”, from which they return to conversing among themselves for the remainder of the flight. It’s fine. I wanted time to think, anyway, to be quiet on the plane so that I could figure out what I am going to talk about at the conference. I booked the conference before deciding to leave my last corporate job. I opted to keep my commitment, though, and now I need to put my presentation in my own voice.

The plane is landing in Albuquerque. The small talk starts again, and it turns out that the two women also live in Austin. I hear them say something about two local radio hosts known as JB and Sandy. I ask a question regarding Sandy. They fill me in. It’s friendly, partly because we’re parting way in five minutes.

Nobody sits next to me on the Seattle leg of my flight, and I have time and space to think, to figure out a theme for my talk. I’m basically speaking on the lessons learned over the last year as a software team trying to buy the next generation of the solution instead of building the next generation of solution.

“Choosing a system is like a plane trip…”

“Choosing a system is like traveling through Mexico…”


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First night without a phone

Yesterday I smashed the screen on my S4. Correction. I accidentally dropped it and the screen smashed. This wasn’t a wanton act of vandalism by a man frustrated with the inadequacies of his communicator.

Although I’ve stuck my SIM in Kid4’s Galaxy Mini i’ve decided that to use that device is too much of a hassle. It wouldn’t let me delete his Google account as to do so would render some of the apps unusable. I did add my personal and business accounts to the device but deleted them before they had managed to synch. I decided I didn’t want my credentials on someone else’s device if deleting them after the fact was going to be problematic.

Now I lie in bed typing on my Acer C720 Chromebook having used it to check Facebook, Twitter, respond to a comment on this blog, read the papers (the news is the same wherever you look), check mails, look at the weather forecast and no doubt do a few other things subconsciously that I’ve already forgotten about. Ordinarily I’d have done all that on the phone. The Chromebook form factor isn’t as convenient for a Sunday morning.

Two other things I’ve not done with my phone spring to mind. One is I haven’t taken a photo of the beech hedge in our back garden. It is just coming into leaf and I quite liked the way that one part of it is budding before the rest showing a little splash of green colour in an otherwise brown hedge. I use the phone a lot in this way, taking ad hoc pictures of things that catch my eye. Check out the photo of petals lying in the road at the end of the post.

The other thing left undone is that I didn’t wake up in the night and didn’t check the phone. Maybe I wasn’t destined to wake up last night or maybe it was because the phone wasn’t there. Why on earth do I need to use the phone at 3am anyway? I don’t.

There is a third “not done” thing. I went out to early doors at the Morning Star without a phone. I also left my wallet at home and just took cash. Normally before leaving the house I check that I have phone wallet and house keys. Yesterday I just checked the house keys. Very liberating. Conversation flowed in the pub and I was 20 minutes later than normal leaving. This was done with a modicum of guilt knowing that Anne couldn’t call me to remind me that tea would very shortly be on the table.

It mattered not. The initial experiment was a success and my first 24 hours without a phone has almost been completed. I’m feeling remarkably relaxed…

petals in the roadOther posts with with photos:

Mobile phone photo competition
Photographic evidence of a great night out
Poignant phonebox photo

Engineer engineering google

Ever wondered what the translation for Huawei is? #UKNOF28

HuaweiHuawei is the main sponsor for UKNOF28 in Reading. These are great meetings and couldn’t happen without the support of equipment suppliers to the community.

So at the lunch break we were discussing the Huawei presentation and I wondered what the word Huawei actually meant. Did it have a literal translation?

In a flash I whipped out my trusty droid and clicked on my Google Translate app.

The photos on the right show the process. I typed in “Huawei” and asked Google to translate it from Chinese into English.

Google, being the perceptive  creature that it is asked me if I meant 华为 instead?

I suppose I must have meant 华为 so I clicked on it and hey presto Google gave me the answer.

I can definitively (ish) tell you that the translation for Huawei (华为) is,         Huawei.

There you go. All part of the service.

You heard it first on (etc)

HuaweiOther UKNOF related post:

Growth in UKNOF attendance points to healthy networking industry
The leaving of UKNOF 23 – bus #205 to Paddington
Nominet precautions against a nuclear attack

chromebook End User google H/W

Contagious Chromebook Ardor

Yesterday morning found me doing the usual, staring at my monitor and rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, catching up on all of the whats and wheres and whos that took place while I lay me down to sleep. I slid on over to this website to put one last tweak on my piece scheduled to post a couple of hours hence and noticed that Tref has put up not one but two posts featuring Chromebooks, Second Hand HP Chromebook for sale £199.99! and New HP Chromebook for £170 with voucher code save30est. Now being well aware of Tref’s enthusiasm for Chromebook technology, philosophy, and hardware, seeing these two postings didn’t surprise me, but they were enough to give my own somewhat-dormant Chromebook interest a nudge. A nudge that as the day wore on started to feel more and more like a good hard shove.

I bought a Samsung Chromebook when they were first released in the U.S. in November 2012, driven by the same curiosity that pulled me back to Apple in 2008, the sharp design, and the remarkable pricepoint. From the get-go I was delighted with it, too, so much so that I deemed it “KoryChrome” (fellow Paul Simon fans will smile at that), had a protective sleeve made, and declared it good.

KoryChrome 1And KoryChrome was good. It opened me up to the possibilities of the Chrome operating system, turned my attention to Chrome apps and the Chrome Web Store, provided plenty of configuration itches for me to scratch, and on more than one occasion it helped me out of a business communication bind (with AppleKory, Google Docs + Google Hangout = Beachball). What KoryChrome didn’t do, though, was transform my cyber-life or work practices, and once I figured out how everything worked and had login environments set up for me, My Missus, and The Boy…well, there just wasn’t much use or fun to be had, as all three members of La Famille Kessel have MacBooks that are already quite light and which go mobile with no discernible difficulty. Despite this, though, KoryChrome held its spot in our household for well over a year, until I finally steeled myself up and put it up for sale on eBay this past February. Purchased for $249, sold for $150 just 15 months later, and I got to keep the 100GB of Google Drive storage that came with KoryChrome through to November next. All in all, I dropped $99 to improve my knowledge, increase my marketability, and satisfy my curiosity.

All of which leads me to ask…what is it about the recently-announced Samsung Chromebook 2 that has my eyes lighting up, my fingers tingling, and my thoughts racing to justify making a pre-order in time for one my May visitors from the U.S. to make delivery (got my crosshairs on you, Marcos Campos)? It must be the stitched faux leather finish…yeah, that must be it.Faux Leather Stitching!

Related posts:

chromebook End User google

New HP Chromebook for £170 with voucher code save30est

chrome_logo_headerHot on the heels of my last post about CashConverters trying to sell a second hand HP Chromebook for £200 Gavin Lewandowski dropped me a line on Twitter saying he’d just bought a brand new one for £170 using a voucher code save30est. Link is here though it is likely to be a time limited offer so may not work for very long.

I paid £180 for my Acer 720 from PC World Business. These laptops will keep coming down. They can hardly have any components. Even at the existing prices they are almost disposable. At least if you lose one it isn’t going to break the bank.

I’d buy another one if I didn’t already have two Chromebooks:

Using different Chromebooks for personal and business
Comparison of Samsung and Acer Chromebooks

Business chromebook google H/W

Second Hand HP Chromebook for sale £199.99 !

CashConverters in Lincoln are selling a second hand HP Chromebook for £199.99.
hp cash converters chromebook

Caught my eye in the window as I was walking home from work yesterday. Second hand Chromebook for two hundred quid?! When you consider that I paid £180 in VAT for the Acer Chromebook I’m using to type this post makes you wonder how clued up the management at CashConverters are about this sort of thing.

I suppose they are offering easy terms.

End User google

Cop this – one billion downloads

You have to be impressed. Over one billion downloads for the Android Google Play app. It is worth noting though that with over one and a half million ratings which is a pretty good sample size the app only gets three and a half stars. You would think that Google would have had enough feedback to improve the app and up the rating to five stars for something with that many downloads.

google play downloadsApps to blow your mind (ish):

Cycle gear
collaboration using Google Docs simplifies takeaway order

End User food and drink google

Collaboration using Google Docs “simplifies” ordering of takeaway curry

onion barge geegeeLast night we decided that tonight, Friday night, would be curry night. The only problem is that not everyone here likes Indian. Some prefer Chinese. Actually not a problem. The Chinese and Indian restaurants are next to each other on the street of a thousand three restaurants (the other one is a  greasy spoon). People can order their preferred ethnic takeaway and I’ll pick both lots up near simultaneously. Simples.

What’s more we can mix and match. You’d prefer a Chinese starter and Indian main? Sure, gofrit.

Now then the only problem here is that juggling menu options starts to get complicated. It’s all very well writing it all down on a piece of paper but with so many possible combinations of nosh people keep changing their minds.

The solution? A shared Google Doc. Everyone has a gmail account or so it transpires. Even non google domains were resolved to a gmail address when an invite was sent. After dinner last night everyone sat round with their laptops editing the Google Doc – six persons at the same time (I did mam and dad’s).

This was pretty cool. You can check out the creativity of the end result here. I was going to share the doc publicly but the process of securing permission from 4 offspring was going to be too onerous and almost certainly cost me more than a curry so I haven’t bothered. A little interpretation is necessary as may be seen from the header photo and not a little simplification but it worked and there can be no quibbling over who ordered what.

A couple of links were included in the doc: The Poppadom Song and a hippo showing the after effects (presumably) of eating a curry.

Collaboration using Google Docs – not just for business 🙂

End User google

Adsense logic on

Be interested to hear what ads people see in the sidebar adsense box. Since installing it I’ve only ever seen BT infinity except once this morning on my mobile where I say some “ever taken out a bank loan” ad – I assume it was PPI related.

Normally I associate google ads with things I’ve been searching for myself but in this case I’m wondering whether the ads are based on the content of the site. There is a lot of broadband content and quite a number of posts where I slag off PPI phone calls.

What do you guys see?

End User google travel

Allow location use #GoogleNow

google now places nearbyI’ve just allowed Google to use my location. Up until now I’ve always rejected the request. Having mulled it over for a few years (I don’t like to rush these things) I’ve decided I’m ok with it. It will enhance online services for me. I don’t care about whether others know where I am or not. My location is pretty obvious if you read this blog.

Location data is useful to me when I use Google Now. I’m happy that it is able to give me hints about things in my locality. Currently it shows photos of nearby places. V handy I’d say.

Years ago when we were working on the commercialisation of SIP one of the things it was going to bring to the party was presence. Presence wasn’t really just about whether you were online and available or not. It was also about where you were online.

Getting off a plane in a new place was going to be made easy by automatically telling the hotel you had landed and pointing out good bars and restaurants you might want to hit. Only possible with location information.

I think I also like the idea that all my photos will have location information in them. Why not? It’s hard enough finding photos. Why not make it easier by telling you where the photo was taen?

Embrace the future. The future has the presence. The future is here and Google Now.

PS I’ve written about GoogleNow before. Had forgotten when writing this article. I don’t think I’ve had location switched on as standard before though.

PPS Off for a stroll now. There are places to see within 14 minutes walk! 🙂

Business google

We currently don’t support that webmail service – LinkedIn

I’ve started to use LinkedIn a bit more than I used to. It is looking more and more useful for me in finding handy contacts for my startup business and less and less like just a recruiting ground for head hunters.

I’ve never used it’s “find other people you might know” type function though but this morning I’m up early doing stuff and casually entered my email address and clicked “continue”. Imagine my surprise when it told me LinkedIn didn’t support my webmail service. is Google based so Linked in is missing out big time. I didn’t bother continuing.

linkedinRelated posts

Punters rush to sign up to funky new LinkedIn group
LinkedIn should know better
Your password here? Oh Dear. LinkedIn

Business chromebook google H/W

Acer C720 and Samsung XE303 Chromebooks – using different devices for personal and business

chrome_logo_headerI bought the Acer C720 Chromebook for use at home and the Samsung XE303, which up until now was my only laptop is to be designated as my business machine. It is somewhat misleading to suggest that their respective uses are solely for personal and business. Reality is that in the modern always on world it is difficult to separate work and play but at least I would get a feel for the user issues in respect of each environment.

Switching between work and personal accounts is a fairly straightforward matter. You click on your image in the top right hand corner of the screen and can choose the relevant account you want to access. This seems to be true across all Google Applications, at least as far as I’ve been able to see. So for example I can easily switch between Drive, Gmail and Calendar for each of my Google accounts.

There is added complexity here because I actually have multiple Google Apps accounts for different businesses but to keep it simple I’m just going to talk about

One of the purposes of having a separate business identity is to

Business google

Google Apps for business – xferring account from personal

Google_apps_admin_consoleThe decision to use Google Apps for the new business has been a no brainer. The productivity tools such as document sharing are a real winner. It is also a bonus that I happened to sign up for Google Apps before they started charging so I get it free of charge, at the moment.

When I originally signed up for Google Apps I didn’t spend much time playing with the features. I couldn’t quite see what difference there was between Apps and my regular Google use – Gmail, Calendar etc. It’s only now, as a business that I’m starting to get some of it.

For example all of my Google use up until Christmas has been through what effectively is my personal account. Any or emails have been channelled through Gmail. My personal calendar was a confused mix of the Samsung SPlanner on my SGS4 and Google Calendar via whatever my laptop was a the time. The SPlanner would feed off both Google and my work Exchange account plus whatever else I programmed in.

When it came to the new business I began to question the use of SPlanner when Google did it all for me so I dropped it.

Now that I have two Gmail accounts, one personal and one I’ve started the process