End User internet social networking

Google Author Ranking

Acting on advice I recently signed up for Google Author Ranking. Google is apparently changing the way it rates content for SEO purposes by looking for quality original content. One of the ways Google determines original content is by linking that content with a specific author.

Having gone through what appeared to be a hit and miss process in establishing the “Authorship” (you will notice a Google+ link at the bottom right of the main page of this blog) I’ve suddenly started to get a lot more Google Alerts highlighting mentions of my name. These links can be quite old but that doesn’t matter. It’s a sign that the Google system knows it’s me being mentioned in online articles.

So it does, at a very cursory glance, seem that getting signed up for Google Author Ranking is worthwhile. There is a long dialogue going on about what Google is trying to achieve in evolving its methods of search ratings. Not the least of the debating points is the idea that Google is trying to increase monetisation of its search product at the expense of traditional PR Agencies – check out this ZDNet article here.

Now I am a Google fan. I use a lot of the company’s products. However this does make you wonder whether the company is using its significant market power in an anti competitive way. Google is certainly being very clever.

One the one hand who can argue with changes that improve the quality of your search results. On the other hand tying people more and more to the Google ecosystem is in the long run likely to lead to less choice and a more costly product.  The market is too complicated and global for anyone to regulate against this as we did in the UK for example with the old BT monopoly of the communications market (we also seem slowly to be regressing to the old monopolistic state in the UK).

I’m not sure anyone would be able to articulate how you would make changes to a Google monopoly in any case. In the meantime I think we just have to get on and figure out how best we live in the Google world. What are we going to do? Stop trying to get online visibility just because we think Google is trying to make even more money out of us?

That’s all folks.

Cloud datacentre End User social networking

We interrupt this vacation with a public service blog #bloggade

Trefor Davies (@tref/Timico/, Matt Russell (@mattdrussell/WebHostingBuzz), Neville Hobson (@jangles/Neville Hobson/For Immediate Release) and Andrew Grill (@AndrewGrill/Kred) cordially invite you to Bloggade, Newark, 21st August.

Bloggade, the collective noun for a gathering of bloggers, is a meeting of minds where you will learn tips and tricks about blogging and WordPress.

The focus of this first Bloggade is on the underlying technology that powers many WordPress blogs. You’ll experience a tour of Timico’s £5m Midlands datacentre that opened in 2012, and see at first hand the technology that powers the web including many WordPress blogs hosted with WebHostingBuzz at the datacentre.

We have round table discussions planned on WordPress hosting, hardware, search engine optimization and more, all addressing the topics from a non-technical perspective, but in the true round table spirit – anything and everything to do with WordPress is up for discussion.

Bring your questions, comments and experiences!

After the discussion, we’ll migrate to a top class local pub where light snacks and drinks will be provided courtesy of Timico. We hope to continue the WordPress-oriented discussion and share tips/success stories/ideas.


12.30 Arrive at the Timico Newark Datacentre – intros & coffee

13.00 Blogger round table – hardware, servers, hosting and more including a look at the latest WordPress release 3.6

14.00 Data centre tour

14.30 Blogger round table – SEO and how to your WordPress blog a highly effective business tool

15.15 Panel discussion – experiences and best practices for getting the most from the WordPress content management system

16.00 Migrate to pub for light refreshments (pub name/location tbc)

18.00 Refreshments finish, event ends.

Tickets, which are totally free of charge, can be found here

Travel Guidelines

The event is being held at the Timico Datacentre in Newark, NG24 2AG. If you are driving then you should come directly to that location where there is ample secure parking.  If you are coming by train – Timico’s HQ (NG24 2TN) in Newark is a 15 minute walk from Newark Northgate railway station (1hr 20mins from Kings X). This is an easy walk alogn a footpath that runs parallel to the railway line or a 2 minute taxi ride. The Datacentre and HQ buildings are next to each other.

There are trains every half hour or so from Kings Cross – the 11.08 will get you in at 12.30 which should be perfect timing unless you wanted to get there earlier and take in a little of “Historic Newark” beforehand.

End User social networking

happy birthday to me – blog is 5 today & I celebrate with a Twitter story

harbour lights cafeHard to believe but exactly five years ago today I posted my first blog piece on It coincides very closely with my fifth anniversary on Twitter. Since then I’ve written 1,616 posts – also hard to believe. 30,517 tweets in that time. I’m not going to dwell on the interim five years. The world has changed.

Even though it is the sabbath I’m going to celebrate with a nice Twitter story:

peel sunriseThis weekend I’m staying with me dear old mam and dad in the Isle of Man. On Saturday morning I wandered down into a drizzling Peel and made for The Harbour Lights Café. It’s one of my faves. A classic seaside café with a quality product and a very relaxing atmosphere. It’s the sort of place to go when it’s raining out and there isn’t that much else to do. You can almost picture the scene: the occasional umbrella walks past the window, the raindrops saunter down the glass, every now and then a car whooshes by, a pot of tea and a plate of crumpets arrive at your table.

On this occasion the Harbour Lights was closed. You can’t imagine my disappointment. A real wave of emotion came over me. I looked in through the windows and walked around the outside of the building. It took me a while to realise that I was early. It opened at 10am. The time was exactly 10am and it being, as you know, one of my fave caffs I was quite prepared to give it some leeway, forgiveness. As I crossed the road to the promenade a car pulled up and a girl got out and proceeded to unlock the front door.

I walked off and crossed to Fenella Beach and the breakwater. Not many people around. It was classic Manx weather. The day before had been beautifully sunny. Today we were back to mists and white topped seas. I was comfortable with this. At the beach there were some kids kitted out in safety gear clambering over the rocks with an instructor type. I wandered on to the breakwater and climbed the steps to look out over the water.

On other occasions I’ve been able to spot a basking shark from that position. Not today. Even the basking sharks were staying away. A couple of bikers, helmets in hand, walked around the castle and a bloke in an old Rover sat there smoking with the engine on. Turn it off man!

A fisherman was lowering scallop dredging kit onto his boat. I stopped for a chat. There are only two weeks left of the season. It starts again on November 1st. When you think about it the sea floor needs time to recover and for the creatures to bring on the next generation. A good haul is twenty bags on a trip but at this time of year you are lucky to come in with ten.

The rain spotted the lenses of my specs and I figured it was time to move on and back to the Harbour Lights. I got there at the same time as a young couple and sat at a table looking out onto the promenade. Tea and crumpets ordered I settled in to Twitter availing myself of the caff’s free WiFi.

At this point I’ll let my tweets tell the story:

@tref: Live tweeting from @harbour_lights cafe on the prom in Peel using their free wifi. Crumpets & tea for brunch

@tref: @harbour_lights is one of my fave caffs.nice sitting here in the window watching the rain run down the glass

@tref: Listening to beegees muzak @harbour_lights – almost nodding off

@tref: Just seen the size of @harbour_lights special breakfast-huge. (I should be on commission here) 🙂

That one was retweeted by @harbour_lights which was nice –  I felt that the café was reaching out and engaging with me its customer. The young couple who had arrived at the same time as me were tucking into huge plate of “full Manx” – the Harbour Lights special.

@tref: There is no rush

@tref: This reminds me of my student days – sitting around all day drinking tea

At this point the waitress came and asked me if everything was ok and did I want some more hot water in my tea pot. I declined and said she could bring the bill whenever she was ready. A short while later she came back and said that the bill had been taken care of. The boss had rung up and said it was all on the house having seen my tweets.

@tref: Thanks @harbour_lights for brightening up a dank day & thanks for the tea and crumpets  )

I left the café with a smile on may face. That was a great experience.  My suggestion of commission was a bit of fun – tongue in cheek. @harbour_lights is a good business. They understand how to build customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The smile stayed on my face all the way home through the rain.

It’s amazing the effect that a smile has you know. I passed one woman who smiled back at me. As I got towards the White House pub there was a bloke stood outside in his work gear having a cigarette. He smiled back at me. Not normally the sort of thing a grown bloke does to another bloke he doesn’t know.


In a nutshell that is how the world has changed since I started to write this blog.

Engineer internet ofcom social networking

The speed of obsolescence & the increase in the speed of light

pirate_flag_thumbWe do live in very interesting times. Last night the twitter stream told me that the internet in Syria had stopped working, or at least the traffic in and out of the country had died off which is the same thing. This morning it was included by the Guardian in their Boot Up links. I thought to myself last night that once it had hit twitter the news would be everywhere. I saw a couple more references to it on twitter this morning and thought to myself “they’re a bit behind the game – that was last night’s news”. I figured it was too old and publicly available to write a blog about it & I wouldn’t really have been able to add anything anyway.

Then this morning I saw someone retweet a link to a post by @TheRealRevK about how Ofcom was about to screw the voip market in the UK by, amongst other things (in it’s 500 page consultation). If you know Adrian (the reverend himself) you will know how passionate he is about these things.  I had thought about writing a post about this subject myself – it came up at dinner last week at Convergence Summit North. I didn’t have the time as I was out of the office for much of the week. I’m not going to do one now as I can’t add to Adrian’s post.

The world is changing so quickly. It’s daft that I don’t feel able to write about something that hit the headlines only a few hours ago and it certainly makes you think about what you do write. Google has been giving this a lot of thought with its Google Authorship Ranking (Google it). When I did the pigeon v rural broadband race a couple of years ago it was covered by the BBC and as far as  I could see scraped by approx 32,000 websites around the world. That’s them taking someone else’s news in the hope that it would make their own site interesting.

Google Authorship is designed to give credit to the originator of the news. I’ve added links to my Google+ profile from both and and linked back from the profile to the sites. In theory over time my Google+ profile will be linked to my many sites as I write guest posts for them (ok maybe it won’t) and this will increase the level of credibility given to me as an author and originator of content.

This doesn’t take away the fact that I will still have to find original stuff to write about which ain’t necessarily easy in this world where the speed of light and information distribution is constantly increasing – you heard it first on

PS the speed of light bit is entirely made up as an attention grabbing bit of sensationalism – had I not made this admission I know many of you would otherwise take it as read from such a creditable source! 🙂

End User social networking

twitter follower building strategies

Follow tref on Twitterfwiw I have at the time of writing 2,271 followers and am followedTrefor Davies by 1,388. The reason that I have more followers than I follow is that I only follow back real people with something to say or a business that is in my area of interest where I think I might learn something. I also follow back businesses local to where I live unless their tweets just focus on saying “buy my left handed widget” on a repetitive basis. I’ve blogged all this before so nothing new here for regular readers.

Last week I was sat at my desk trying to upgrade to Widows8 and whilst the machine was doing its stuff I gave our IT guy Jared a driving lesson on Twitter. I had a new follower! Oo 🙂

Looking at this follower I noted that he had 9,000 followers but only followed less than 1,000 himself (actually it wasn’t a he it was a company). This was very suspicious. I could understand if it was a celebrity account. I had never heard of this company before, had no reason to engage with them but they had followed me. I was unlikely that they were particularly interested in me. Their intent was almost certainly for me to follow then back and very likely, having gained a new follower, proceed to unfollow me. That could be the only reason they had a 9:1 ratio of followers to follows.

As an experiment I followed them back and made a note to check on Monday (today) whether they were still following me. Lo and behold, surprise surprise, knock me down with a feather they weren’t.

I have now unfollowed them – there is no reason for me to stay with them because they aren’t interested in me as a person. They just want me to be interested in them. There is something wrong somewhere with that business model. How can a business succeed if it just wants to take and not give anything back.

Anyway that’s my missive for a Monday morning. Gotta go.  Awards entries to write and customer meetings to prepare for.


Apps broadband End User social networking

Home broadband data usage growth

home broadband data usage trends for Trefor Davies

Broadband data usage growth driven by photo uploads

I’m installing a RaspberryPi computer at home carrying an IPCortex PBX with SIP trunks. I just needed to find a free IP address and found myself checking out available addresses so that I could provide a static one to the IPCortex.

I just happened to find myself looking at my home broadband data usage and came up with some interesting stats.

The first chart plots the growth in my overallgrowth in upload data usage for home broadband - Trefor Davies usage for the last four years. It actually shows almost an order of magnitude (20GB to 160GB) growth from the lowest point in 2008 to the highest point this year.

I realise this is not scientific but you can easily see the trend. The rise in upload usage in the May/June time frame (2nd chart) this year coincides with my taking proud possession of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the fact that all photos now get backed up to Google+. Trefor Davies photo storage requirements ytd 2012

The final chart shows the growth in photo storage needs this year and you can see a very good correlation between photo storage and the growth in bandwidth upload usage.

The numbers don’t exactly match because we use the home broadband connection for other applications and I, being both gregarious and fertile, do not live alone.

I haven’t drilled into specifics but a reasonable chunk of the photo storage space is now used for video. I do both a daily (ish) video diary for the kids and take lots of “generally interesting” videos. Check this one out from the weekend visit to the Beamish Open Air Museum in county Durham.


Business online safety social networking

Parliament and Internet Conference – Privacy

portcullisThe Parliament and Internet conference wound its annual way to Westminster yesterday. The conference usually comes up with a nugget or two and made the BBC news site with a comment from Andy Smith, PSTSA1 Security Manager at the Cabinet Office that he wouldn’t recommend using your real name when registering with sites like Facebook.

Lord Merlin Errol also noted that he used to give his date of birth as April 1st 1900 but that drop down boxed rarely went that far back these days. I guess there are still one or two 112 year old people around though whether they would be interested in social networking is another  issue.  Privacy  on the Internet, or lack of it, is something I’m still trying to get my brain around.

This came to the front of mind again this morning as a Facebook message appeared in my timeline asking me to confirm my mobile phone number. I did so, particularly as a mobile number is one way of recovering a lost password. Didn’t feel particularly comfortable doing it though. I don’t trust Facebook though

End User social networking

social networking participation on – clicks wanted :)

social network sharing on the blogIt’s interesting to see that reader engagement on this blog is increasing and that people are starting to use social networking share buttons more.

However a post that attracts a lot of Facebook “Likes” doesn’t necessarily get many LinkedIn “Shares” and so on. A quick scan over the last months or so worth of posts shows that the most shares each social network has had for any given post is as follows:

Linked In Shares 24
Tweets 18
Facebook Likes 22
G+ 3

Google Plus is still clearly low down in terms of people using it. I was surprised that LinkedIn comes out top though I don’t think I should have been – after all Timico is a supplier of business services and presumably this reflects some proportion of the readership being either customers or people from the same industry. Pinterest scores are not gathered but I’d bet the number of “pins” is low.

As a bit of an experiment can readers please click on one of the social network buttons? Just choose the network you use most. No prizes here and nothing to be gained by clicking more than once but I’ll leave this post at the top for a day or two to see what the results look like.



End User social networking

And then there were four… quiet house

Calgary Bay Isle of MullHere in the Davies house all is calm. The Sunday roast is ready to go in the oven, the veg prepared and the fireplace cleaned out in anticipation of coal being bought from the garage at the end of Burton Road.

Two kids are now away at their respective Universities with two left at home. It’s strange having a family of four where most of the time it has been six.  The most noticeable difference is the noise, or lack of it. Even though when at home they are rarely all in the same room at the same time the decibel level seems to shoot up when they are all here.

In the summer of 2011 I went camping on Mull with one of the kids.  We visited a place called Calgary Bay. This is a beautiful bay from which settlers left to go to Canada, hence, presumably Calgary. In those days it was a much bigger thing for someone to leave home. That was mostly it. Very little further contact.

Nowadays Facebook makes a huge difference. I still have a bit of banter with my Funkypancake  friend Dave despite the fact that he is now in New Zealand. I often chat with my son Tom at Warwick University online and now Hannah is established in Durham I have my lifeline to her though my plans to provide her with a hotspot for her room have been thwarted by the fact that her internet connection requires a browser login.

In time (a long, long time away in a far-away galaxy) when I become old and even more shrivelled than I am today the internet really will make the family seem close by. It is a shame that there is a community of older people today who have never had access to the web and who are probably too old to make the change. There are lots of people who would benefit from using Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends.

In time the number of internet impoverished people will become fewer and fewer because, being blunt about it, they won’t be around any more. I would be surprised if there was a single person leaving school now who doesn’t have a Facebook account, at least here in the UK. The mix will inevitably change.

It’s quite likely that what is deemed acceptable from a privacy perspective will also change things for the older generation. Many of the information requests made to telcos by the police force are for details of mobile phone location information of missing kids and folk with Alzheimers who have wandered off. I must give my login details for SamsungDive to my wife, if only so she can track which pub to come and get me from when I am no longer able to walk home (due to age and infirmity).

Right, time to put the pork in the oven. I’ve gone on enough.

PS I still don’t trust Facebook though.

Business charitable social networking

Award winning Burton Road chippy in Lincoln @burtonrdchippy – eat their chips

Burton Road Chippy in Lincoln

charity begins at a chip shopI don’t follow many chip shops on twitter. In fact I think I only follow the one, @burtonrdchippy.

I like the @burtonrdchippy tweets. I like to know that they have offers on although seeing as I am trying to lose a few pounds I don’t typically frequent fish and chip shops.

When I see something good I retweet it and so hopefully in a modest way @burtonrdchippy gets more exposure and more custom. Many of the people I follow and who follow me are local to me so there is a chance they will go and eat there.

@burtonrdchippy has a personality I can engage with. Imagine my delight therefore when driving to drop off a trumpeter at a band practice I heard on BBC Radio Lincolnshire that @burtonrdchippy is now an award winning emporium – one of the best in the East of England in fact.

It wasn’t far to go so I popped round to congratulate them. Tweetmeister (for want of a better word) Lesley wasn’t there though and when I went back later this evening they were busy so I let them be.

So I’m just going to write this short blog post as a small token of my appreciation of the fact that this chippy has embraced the new world, mixed it with the old and is making a success of it.

Eat their chips, sit in their fine restaurant section and enjoy a bottle of wine with your fish. The fish will be freshly prepared and have come from a sustainable source. Check out their website here and follow them on twitter. I sense a tweetup at a chip shop in the offing.

Well done  @burtonrdchippy. Frying tonight:)

datacentre Engineer Net ofcom social networking

Power to the portaloo – bog standard networking in a (ElectroMagnetic) Field @emfnoc @emfcamp

EMFCamp network planning diagLast year I dreamt of holding a tweetup over a weekend in a field. I booked a large scout camp but the project didn’t get anywhere because it needed connectivity to make it a success and I couldn’t for one reason and another make it happen.

A couple of weeks ago you may have noticed something called EMF Camp appearing in your Twitter stream. People I knew were going and blow me down if it doesn’t turn out to be the type of event I had been thinking of.  I couldn’t go myself but Nat Morris, who ran the networking for the event, has sent me some notes of the tech setup.

Nat’s notes are a great read and I have left them by and large unadulterated. I have to thank him for sending me a wonderful cornucopia of facts and links – every link is worth clicking on. You especially need to make sure you read the camp_network pdf – it has drawing in it showing how they planned the network even down to the distances between portaloos for the Ethernet cable runs. Some knowledge of data networking would help you understand some of the technical terms here but the first link to Zoe Kleinman’s BBC report gives a great overview.

Nat writes:

Here are some details about the internet setup for EMFCamp which took place last weekend at Pineham Park in Milton Keynes. The BBC turned up on Saturday afternoon and recorded a nice piece about the event, you can see my stomach about halfway through when they film in the NOC tent…

Some slides from Will and my presentation at the end of the event about the power and internet are here…. (50MB warning)…

We were lucky that the site is only 2.8 miles away from the Pulsant DataCentre in Milton Keynes –  what was formerly BlueSquare MK. Brian Ross and Nick Ryce got the wheels in motion inside Pulsant and arranged with Matt Lovell the CTO for them to sponsor us. I cheekily asked for a couple of U of rackspace in MK and some in their Telehouse East rack plus a 1Gb/s layer 2 circuit between the two, I was expecting them to say no, but they were fine with the idea!

So back in June we started our network building placing a Cisco 7200 with NPE G2 in Telehouse and another in MK, we borrowed a /19 of v4 + /48 of v6 and AS number from Chaos Computer Club in Germany, meaning we didn’t have to NAT any campers.

We had a BGP transit feed from Pulsant in MK, plus Goscomb in Telehouse, along with a temporary connection to the LONAP peering network for v4+v6 plus multicast.

The costs for providing internet access to campers came in at around 5.8k, apart from 10 boxes of cat5 all of this was for the last mile between the MK DC and the campsite, everything was provided free or in kind from sponsors. RapidWireless from Liverpool (Richard Porter) loaned us a pair of DragonWave Horizon Compact units – we got a temporary OFCOM license for the 18ghz link which ran at 385mbit/s full duplex. As a backup we bought a pair of Ubiquiti Nanobridge M5’s, these were installed but we never pushed any traffic over them, they were just there in case something happened to the primary link.

Onsite we borrow a tent / marquee from scout group, the tent was made in 1953, made a 25quid to borrow it! Some pics…

Our onsite rack / data centre, housing dual core routers, wireless controllers, along with various servers:

Around the site we deployed a resilient OSPF ring, switches were stored in portaloos, along with power distro units – we used the German term Datenklo for these, meaning ‘data toilet’:

Someone even colocated a Raspberry Pi along with a 3tb USB hard disc in one!

Campers left their cables outside and then either tweeted or text us and a NOC monkey would come out and connect them up. Wifi AP’s were deployed all over the site

We limited tent connections to 100Mbit, so a single user couldn’t saturate our upstream.

Had some nice feedback!

Our infra team twitter account is @emfnoc, the general camp one is @emfcamp

End of Nat’s stuff

A huge thanks to Nat for sharing this with me. The whole event was clearly a massive joint effot by lots of people and looks to have been a great success  I look forward to attending the next one in person.

agricultural End User social networking

@JRainy – bread the numbers

You get roughly 3000kgs (3Tonnes) of wheat per acre. An 800g loaf of bread has around 600g of wheat giving us 5,000 loaves-worth an acre.

I learned via @JRainy on Twitter that it takes a combine harvester 3 hours to harvest 8 acres of wheat which in my book makes it 0.044 acres or 222 loaves of bread a minute.

This year’s wheat crop is only 10million or so acres of which 15% is milling wheat suitable for breadmaking. We obviously eat a lot of bread – work it out!

Interesting eh?

Check out the Lincolnshire wheat harvest in action here – thanks to John Rainsforth 🙂

You heard it first on…

Business social networking

Twitter customer service models – @metoffice is great

Over the last two weekends I have had two experiences with customer support using Twitter which I shall relate to you.

The bank holiday weekend was it’s usually showery with sunny spells and I was lying in my tent in Woodhall Spa watching the Twitter stream, albeit in stops and starts due to the terrible  mobile data connectivity you get in parts of the countryside.

I follow the @metoffice  twitter account and noticed the handover from the night shift. Every time this happens the new “duty tweeter” asks people to tweet in questions about the weather. For me this has always been a one way twitter account but on this occasion I asked whether the rain forecast for the Monday would stay away long enough for me to dry the tens and pack it away.

This is the engagement:

(me 08.09am) @metoffice I’m in woodhall spa.will the tent have time to dry out before it rains again?

(response 08.38am) @tref Yes just about, although soon becoming cloudy… you can expect rain later this afternoon, about 2pm ish ^JVS

Last night. ie Sunday evening, I was trying to book a train ticket and the website kept grinding to a halt whenever I got to the point of paying.

(me 20.41pm) @eastcoastuk your payment gateway is so slow it’s going backwards tonight. I’m trying to buy a load of advance tix

(response 10.44 next day) @tref Apologies, if you are experiencing problems using your rewards, contact Web Support 08457225111

Now I happen to like I frequent London quite regularly (frequently) and the train firm, by and large, provides me with a good service.

It is interesting however to note the difference in twitter response. The @metoffice response left me thinking “wow what a great service” and that of @eastcoastuk didn’t.  Moreover I was trying to spend money with and the MetOffice provides me with everything free of charge. Also @metoffice is manned by people who tell you their names. Clearly @eastcoastuk is not a 24*7 twitter account. I’m not saying they need to change , they run their own business the way they want to run it. I’m just highlighting the difference.

I have the MetOffice app running on my GalaxyS3. I’d get it if I were you, especially if you like camping.

PS the Met Office is looking for advertisers – their app has a small banner space that always seems to read “Advertise Here”. Worth taking a look if you are selling to people who rely on the weather for work or play.

Apps End User social networking

social sharing toolkit snippet

This morning I found that one of my blog posts had the word “bookmark” inserted at the beginning. Weird I thought. This afternoon I did another post and lo and behold it was there too. In fact it was on every post I’d ever written. Very weird.

So I went down to see Ian Ward, one of our resident web design gurus and we both started fishing about to see what the problem might be. Perusing through the plug ins we noticed that “Social Sharing Toolkit” had an  upgrade available. This was to fix a problem where the plug in was “inserting words” into blog posts.

We clicked “upgrade” and hey presto, problem over. I must have subliminally upgraded the plug in first thing this morning. The watchful eyes of the wordpress community spotted the problem and now it is fixed.

End of story. Interesting eh?  Eh??

agricultural Business social networking

Hreodburna – a Twittersphere tour with farmer Christopher Day – some images not for those with weak constitutions

The Red Lion Inn in Redbourne Lincolnshire has a fire stationI met Christopher Day on Twitter. I’ve no idea when.The wooden cross on the green in Redbourne People follow you. You follow people. You start to connect. Connect often enough you begin to notice and engage with them which is what I’ve done with Christopher. His Twitter name is @themanorhousebb.

I’ve met him a couple of times before today, once at LincUpLive and then again at LincsTweetMeet. During some online conversation I mentioned that my favourite vegetable is the pea.  Christopher grows peas and he invited me to see some pea picking in action.

Hreodburna, which in Old English means reedy burn, is as you may know, the historical name for  Redbourne in Lincolnshire. Redbourne is your idyllic English village and was to me only previously known for its pub.  The Red Lion is a wonderful  17th Century coaching Inn and a stopping off point for LincolnThe old Hadley, Simpkin and Lott fire engine in redbourne RFC on the way back from away matches in the North of the county.

The car park of the Red Lion on this occasion was the place that I had arranged to meet Christopher to go and see some vining action.

What I would never have noticed in my rugby playing days was the fact that attached to the Red Lion is a fire station containing an original horse drawn fire engine (click on the header photo for a better view of the fire station). Made in 1831The paddock at the Red Lion Inn in Redbourne Lincolnshire used to hold the horse that pulled the fire engine by Hadley, Simpkin and Lott of London the engine is manually operated with bars on either side that were raised and lowered to pump water.

The sign in the fire station window informs the enquiring mind:  “The rural disturbances of 1830-1 provoked at least 28 cases of Arson in Lincolnshire. The owner of the Redbourne Estate, the Duke of St Albans certainly owned an engine by 1834 and it is reasonable to presume that this is the same engine, bought to protect his property. There was no county fire service in Lincolnshire until 1948.”fishing in Lincolnshire

The horse for the fire engine lived in a paddock at the back of the Inn and the first job the firemen  had before attending an incident was to catch it.

Things have moved on from those days. We moved on to see the pea harvest which is going to be the subject of another post. In the meantime Christopher was kind enough to show me around his farm which includes some carp fishing lakes. I offer here some photos of one of the lakes – a hugely relaxing place to spend a day. Note the bait set up. Click on the thumbnail photo for a close up shot of somebait (maggots) do not click if you have a medical condition of the bait – not for the faint of heart.

Alternatively watch the short video (18 years and over only). Amazing where you can get using Twitter isn’t it?

End User social networking

Twitter engagement – Lincolnshire Police & Lincoln Prison

All is at peace at dawn outside Lincoln PrisonWe can see Lincoln prison from the back of our house. Last night there was a helicopter out there circling for some time. I took a a pic but it was too dark.

I tweeted “helicopter circling Lincoln prison – wonder what’s going on”.

This morning I got a reply from @Lincspolice (ie Lincolnshire Police) saying “@tref We were searching for a missing person”

Pretty good proactive PR I’d say. Lots of organisations could learn from them. I’ve followed them. I’m follower number 5,592.

Header photo is the view at dawn from our house over towards Lincoln prison – v arty I think.

4g Business mobile connectivity social networking

#lincstweetmeet – McDonalds, doubledecker busses and the blistering pace of 4G

#lincstweetmeet live from the Showroom, Lincoln - click to see people :)Had a very enjoyable time at #lincstweetmeet yesterday. I gave a talk to an audience of just short of 100 social media fans on the effect that 4G will have on their tweeting, blogging and general online networking. Interesting to note that I recognised many of the twitter names from the badges as people I follow. It’s still very difficult to correlate an online persona with a real one though unless you have met them a few times.

Click on the header photo to see the actual audience. It was nice to meet them 🙂

If you want to understand the context of the post title click here.

End User social networking

aargh another social network – WAYN

Campsite at Hillend, Rhossili, Gower August Bank Holiday 2011Had an email overnight from someone at – “the world’s largest travel and lifestyle social network” – sigh! The email source address was I checked. WAYN now has 19,720,691 members.

Good luck to him. I wish WAYN and all who travel with him well but I have to say farewell, adios, auf wiedersehen, goodbye, waving tearfully from the jetty and turning my back slowly on the departing entourage as it moves off on its travels around the world wide web.

I’m sorry but I am not ready for another social network. WAYN has budget mind you.

End User mobile connectivity social networking

Zen and the art of battery conservation

I’m sat in a pub in Covent Garden in a race against time. I’m meeting Dr Sue Black at 4pm for a chat about stuff. She is, unfortunately, on a train stuck in the sidings at Wimbledon because someone is trying to commit suicide in Wimbledon station.

These things happen. V sad. The problem is that my phone is running low on juice as is Sue’s. I have the laptop but nowhere to plug it in. I could probably move to find somewhere to charge my phone (I only have a USB cable to attach it to the laptop) but I then run the risk that Sue’s phone battery will run out and she won’t know where I am. I don’t actually need the phone at my end as long as I have power left in the laptop because we are staying in touch using Twitter.

I have plenty of time. It is now 4.48 and my train is not until 7.06 (pm). I can plug both phone and laptop in on the train so I just need to husband resources until then. Also there are only so many glasses of mineral water a man can take…

Little glimpses of life in the early days of the mobile internet – real life drama lived out in Twittercolour on the www.

End User online safety social networking

The Online Garden Shed – the answer to internet privacy issues

Google Opt out - the online garden shed?We all need our private space. This true in our virtual lives as much as in the touchy-feely-smelly real world that we once inhabited.  In those days man could retire to his shed if he felt the need for a bit of time to himself. He would only let you in if you were a pal.

There are no sheds online.  What do we do about privacy when using the internet? The fact that Google seems to know what I’ve been up to is a concern.  Do we all sign up with proxy services?  The proxy service provider will still know what you are up to.  Switching on “private browsing” seems a bit of a faff and all that does is prevent PC from storing usage data.

A reader (thanks HmmmUK) just Tweeted me a link to the Google Opt out page:

“Opt out of customised Google Display Network ads

Opt out if you prefer ads not to be based on interests and demographics. When you opt out, Google disables this cookie and no longer associates interest and demographic categories with your browser.”

I thought “great, the answer to the problem” and proceeded to that page to opt out. Then I paused

Business social networking

A successful LincUpLive at the #Doubletree in Lincoln #LUL360

Electricity Works at LincUpLive at the Doubletree in Lincoln #LUL360Last week Matt Russell, CEO of WebHostingBuzz went down with Ukrainian manflu. The Ukrainian version is vicious strain and is especially effective when the Siberian winds sweep down from the Caucasus to catch the unwary Englishman abroad. Because of this it is very rare to find a native male Ukrainian there in February – they all winter in the Cote D’Azur. The whole country is left in the hands of their womenfolk who are of course immune to the virus.

Anyway Matt had been down to host a session at LincUpLive in Lincoln last Friday in which I was going to be a panellist. #LUL360 is a conference that discusses the use of social media as a business tool. Due to his affliction he got in touch and asked me if I would stand in for him. A big ask as I’m sure all of you who know Matt will agree. I did my best.

The session was held jointly with Jon Grubb, former Editor of the Lincolnshire Echo.Jon Grubb with Trefor Davies at #LUL360 I discussed the Timico approach to social media and Jon critiqued it from the perspective of a classic PR person. We had a lot of fun. It isn’t often I get to tell my anecdotes about the pigeon v broadband race anymore. There was also the Move over IPv4 bring on IPv6 party and the World Record Attempt etc etc.

We had some great audience engagement and an hour passed in no time. The message is that stories about how great left handed widgets are don’t work. If the left handed widget is used in a bank robbery that is a different kettle of fish (mixing it up a bit here I know 🙂 – I’m a bit prone to that )Trefor Davies with Doubletree Sales and Marketing Manager Nicola Shepheard at #LUL360

The best bit is that I despite my best efforts no one let me pay for a drink at the after show party. If you want to understand how social media can be used within your business I can recommend attending a LincUpLive – the next one is in September.

As a footnote I should mention the venue. This was the brand new Doubletree Hotel on Brayford Wharf in Lincoln. I was uber impressed with this new facility – Lincoln needed a top class hotel and now we have one. Check it out. Photo is me being shown round by Doubletree Sales and Marketing Manager Nicola Shepheard. The hotel must have been built on the site of the old Lincoln Electricity Works – some nice touches around the lobby.

That’s all.

End User social networking

using new mobile plug ins WPtouch & Social Sharing Toolkit #WordPress

Having asked Twitter last night which mobile plug in I should use for this site the unanimous response was WPtouch.  Note when I say unanimous here I mean that every one that responded said WPtouch – not the whole of the Twitter world, most of who do not follow me anyway – just in case I confused you there, which I know I probably didn’t 🙂

Anyway I tested the plug in on a different site and it seemed to work out of the box so I have now activated it directly on If you are reading this post from a mobile device I’d be grateful for any feedback.

I was prompted to install this plug in as a result of a comment received during last month’s world record attempt. I also took on board the need to have individual buttons for Facebook Likes, G+ etc. These come from the Social Sharing Toolkit plug-in, now active here and which has replaced AddToAny. Looks like quite a handy plug in that one.

There is one more tweek I need to make and that is to replace the separate “most commented” and “recent posts” widget in the right hand sidebar with a single one that has tabs to select those with a further “most visited” tab added in for good measure. So far I’m to happy with the one I’ve found  to that one will need a bit more work.

Y’all have a nice day now 🙂

Business social networking

job churn & LinkedIn

I have, for what it is worth, 496 connections on LinkedIn. I don’t really use the platform. I used to post links to blog posts on it but it didn’t always seem to work so I figured it was a waste of time trying.

Just now I got an email from LinkedIn telling me that 117 of my connections have changed job in the past 12 months. Over 20%.  Is this high? It suggests that one average we change jobs every 5 years or so. Perhaps people that use LinkedIn are more  likely to change jobs because, from what I can see, one of the primary functions of the platform is to act as a recruiting service.

I don’t know but I thought it was worth a mention.

End User food and drink social networking

Anne is away – discuss

Fish finger sandwich – a must when the wife is a way.

My wife Anne is away this week visiting her parents. Son number one is at University and son number 2 (kid number 3) has gone skiing so at home we have me, daughter number 1 (kid number 2) and son number 3 (work it out). I am nominally in charge.

Before she went Anne printed off a detailed schedule – who is doing what, where and when and how much cash I need to dish out to who for school dinners (the Trefor Davies scheme for avoiding making packed lunches), bus fares etc etc. I specifically asked her not to prepare menus for the week because I figured that us kids could then have a few treats – chips, curry, pizza etc etc.

This is where it starts getting hard. I don’t know whether anyone else out there realises  but you have to plan some of these things in advance! Any sensible plan includes a sausage or fish finger sandwich option. Some of the ingredients we have – sausages I was able to find in the freezer yesterday but could I find the fish fingers? Hell no! Fortunately they are for tonight and having chatted to the boss today and casually slipped in the subject into the conversation I now know that they are in the other freezer. Okaay.

What I have just done is uncovered a

End User social networking

I just blocked someone on Facebook – one of those easy decisions but nevertheless painful

It really really pains me to admit it but I have just blocked an absolutely gorgeous woman on Facebook. The friend request came in out of the blue and thinking she must be a friend of a friend I took a look.

This woman was highly attractive and had some very sexy photos in her profile. I have to say I left the invitation to friendship on the screen for a minute or two but then took the plunge and blocked her. She must have been a very lonely person – only had thirteen or so Facebook friends, three of who were clearly the same person with different accounts. I would have liked to have had the option of “block and report spam” but it was either one of the other so I just went for the former.

I shudder to think what I might have been letting myself in for had I accepted the request. Caveat Emptor.

End User social networking

Simple guide to being a real person who someone might want to engage with on Twitter

For me one of life’s little disappointments is to see that I have lots of new Twitter “followers” only to find that they aren’t worth following back. Sounds a little high and mighty?

My approach to life is that I am only here the once so I might as well make the most of it. Because of that I treat all waking hours as potentially time to be doing work but because I enjoy what I do I don’t necessarily consider it to be a chore. In addition I try to make my workplace a fun place to be.

Also I have a major vested interest in the success of the business I work for because I am a shareholder. It is in my interest to be on the case more often than not and I am not therefore a someone who switches off when I leave the office.
I use Twitter a lot – for much of my waking day. The platform suits my natural gregariousness and it gets used for a mix of purposes that reflects my approach to life – that is a mix of work and play.

On it I tweet:

  • work stuff – usually blog posts on but also links to online articles that I think relevant to the business, industry or things I cover on the blog
  • non work stuff – usually creative writing posted on – latest post here 🙂
  • and inanities that perhaps reflect my personality and which people can either gel or identify with or chose to ignore/unfollow – it’s a free world and a reflection of what happens in real life and not just online.

It is always exciting to get new followers on Twitter. At the time of writing I have 1,777 followers. However I only follow 1,058 people back. So what do I (quite reasonably) hear you say?

The point is that it is such a source of disappointment to see that you have new followers but not to think it is worth following them back. I’m a fairly easy going bloke so why don’t I follow these people?

To some extent this is because, just like in real life, you wouldn’t “be friends” with everybody you meet. The criteria for making this decision are however somewhat wider when applied to Twitter.

Whilst I do use Twitter to sell as part of the mix described above I don’t want a constant stream of sales pitches. In fact any sales pitch has to be so soft as to be almost not discernible (feel free to knock me down at this point if you think this cynically doesn’t reflect my own tweets).

Of my last 40 followers I only follow 18 of them back. The ones I don’t follow have profiles that suggests they can help me with things. These include:

  • finding a mortgage
  • finding a job
  • finding a franchise to run
  • making a fast buck
  • helping me market my business
  • etc etc etc

Drilling into the tweets of these followers they are invariably one way broadcasts offering advice, thanking new followers for the follow, selling left handed widgets (for example) or simply retweeting “interesting” stuff posted by others.

If someone wants to be followed back they need to be seen to be someone interesting or engaging enough to chat with in a pub or coffee shop. In fact one of the wonders of the Twitter world is that if you have already chatted with someone on Twitter then when you meet them in real life they seem to be very easy to get on with – you already have many things in common to talk about.

Sometimes “real people” don’t get followed back. Often their profile has no information on the person and not much in the way of tweets at all giving me no help with deciding whether to follow them. Also if someone looks implausibly attractive (I get suspicious – no offence intended girls) or as in one recent case, only tweets in Chinese, then they probably won’t get followed.

Although there are some journalists and news accounts I follow but who don’t follow me back I don’t usually follow people for long if they don’t follow back. It isn’t a personal thing. It’s just that I feel social networking isn’t a one way medium.

In the same way many of the accounts that follow me but don’t get followed back unfollow me after a week or two. Quite satisfying really. These are often accounts that simply seem collect followers because they presumably feel this is the right way to build influence. You have to question this when you see people who follow 70,000 people and have 70,000 followers in return. Who is going to notice anything in that stream? Also I often wonder how on earth do some people go about finding me on Twitter! Businesses advice in the Minneapolis area? No thanks.

The rules aren’t hard and fast. I often follow local businesses even if they are “just selling”. It seems reasonable to support your local businesses online in the same way as you might buy stuff from local high street shops. I also follow some businesses in my industry for competitive information purposes.

This has been a longer than usual post and many may not have stuck with it to this point. I understand:)

I will finish the rambling though with the observation/fact that I get many cold calls and unsolicited emails from people wanting to engage (sell). Most of them get filtered out because otherwise I would spend my whole day listening to pitches.

If you want to make it past the gatekeeper the best way is to first develop a non work relationship on Twitter. A subsequent work related approach via email is then less likely to be ignored because of course we will already know each other. Twitter isn’t a medium for selling but it is great for warming up the contact.

To help facilitate this my business card nowadays contains only my Twitter username (@tref) and no email or phone contact details. All the contact info you need is in any case findable online.

I have just realised Twitter is short for Tref’s witterings.  Better go.

That’s all folks 🙂

charitable End User social networking

world record attempt – the results are in #comment24

世界記録のコメントWe had a good go at it guys. When I first discussed the world record attempt for “most comments on an online news post” with the Guinness World Records® people there was no record in place. We came in at 5,455 comments in 24 hours.

Unfortunately in the meantime a Japanese pop star – don’t ask me his name, I was too distraught to register it1  – has come in with 56,800 on his fan website. Apparently a quarter of all his registered fans left a comment. That’s life folks.

However we should not be dismayed. We should rejoice. First of all we raised just over £6k for the RNLI. The RNLI needs £150million a year to keep going. That’s a lot of two pences rolling down that lifeboat donation box and every little helps.

Secondly I contacted Charles Arthur, Tech Editor of the Guardian who after digging around a bit discovered that the most comments ever on a Guardian news post was 4,789.  The Guardian is reputed to have a monthly unique readership of 50 million people globally so the fact that we beat their number for most comments is huge news. NOTW phone hacking not unsurprisingly seems to be the subject that generally attracts most people to comment at the Guardian.

Perhaps I’ll change the subject next time to something more inflammatory. I think we will have another go – next year maybe. There was huge enthusiasm amongst everyone who participated. The main feedback from GWR, apart from the fact that they enjoyed following the attempt was that it appears that this sort of record is generally best suited to celebs with huge  followings. A bit obvious but perhaps we can prove that wrong someday:)

Still to do: tech post & look at the “most inspiring comments”. As regard the latter if anyone has any they would like to highlight let me know – leave a comment on this post linking to their favourite comment.

That’s all folks.

PS world record attempt blog post here

1 tbh it’s ‘cause I couldn’t understand it & didn’t want to look stupid asking for the name again 🙂

charitable Cloud datacentre End User social networking surveillance & privacy

The social media summary of the world record attempt

UK trending for @tref & #comment24 on twitter The world record attempt started at 6am on Thursday 5th Feb and ended at 6am the following day. There are three stories to tell here. The first is the charity fundraising aspect that was covered on Friday.

Second is the social media story. This was an event largely promoted using the #comment24 hashtag on twitter but the story was also posted on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. The effort also caught the imagination of a good number of friendly journalists as the list of names in the table of top referrers for 5th Jan illustrates.

referring site

# visits


time on site

1 (Twitter)





























































In all according to Google Analytics there were 162 referring sites over the 5th and 6th January. A Google search for

Cloud End User media social networking

The evolution of TV – Sky and Zeebox

I note that Sky has taken a 10% stake in Zeebox, a service that integrates TV watching with social media presence. This is the future. In fact this, to my wife’s annoyance is also the here and now.

How often do you see the twitter stream fill up with comments about a TV programme that is on at the time? It is usually stuff like Xfactor or The Apprentice, neither of which I can stomach. Yesterday it was the Manchester City v Manchester United FA Cup tie.

This is a pretty astute investment by Sky who scrapped their monthly Sky Magazine in print format last autumn despite it being profitable and one of the highest circulation monthly mags in the UK. Zeebox will add to Sky’s already powerful interactive online presence with Sky+,  an interactive planner on iPhone/iPad app and  SkyGO their app to watch TV on the move.

My wife may not like it but it is also the way forward in every aspect of life. She already shops online. It won’t be long before she is coordinating shopping trips using Twitter, Facebook or some other as yet unheard of facility. We have to embrace the new technology and the new way of living.

The size of the Sky investment has not been disclosed but my bet is it will be great for both parties and shows that there is still plenty of opportunity for the canny entrepreneur to make things happen even in this economic climate.

More TV related stuff:

Sony 4K Ultra HD TV

TV detector vans – the truth

Boring TV & better things to do.

charitable Cloud End User social networking

The story behind the world record attempt #comment24

This attempt at a Guinness World Records® Record all started back in November when I took a customer out to dinner to celebrate a bit of business. The customer mentioned that he read and, to cut a long story short, I said that Timico would donate £1 to his favourite charity for every comment left by one of the staff from his company. I capped this at £100 – it was just a bit of fun. His favourite charity is the RNLI.

A glass or three of wine followed and we decided, as you do, that we would go for a world record. Considering this I upped the ante to 1,000 comments from his employees (£1 each) and said Timico would double up if we got a world record out of it. The record, whatever it was, seemed eminently doable. This customer has thousands of employees globally with many of them being industry analysts and commentators with large twitter followings.

I was sure that we could have a good time with this important customer and raise some funds for charity at the same time.

I woke up the next day thinking hmm what have I committed to