Monday, January 30, 2006
That headline is a bit extreme for this topic, but I have to say that
I'm more than a bit dubious about how effective the internet, and
especially specialist comparison sites on it, really are at finding
the best deals. I was prompted to write this by an ad in the Sunday
Times, purporting to compare all the major suppliers of energy
The reason for my doubts evolved from some frustrations I'd had the
day before. I was on the hunt for a device to enable me to digitise
my old 35mm slide collection (time to get the porty online and earn a
crust). After a fair bit of surfing I had zeroed in on what seemed
the most promising option, which via the usual Googled-up sites
(Kelkoo, Pricerunner) was swinging in at a sale price of £129.99
(usually £159.99). None could get it lower, and in some cases even
managed to add a few extra tens of £.
Fortunately, as I sat ready, credit card in hand, the online site I'd
opted for suddenly popped up a sign saying its security certificate
was not recognised, so I bottled. And as the family were halfway out
of the door for a day trip I had to leave it there.
So imagine my surprise, and a pleasant one at that, when I sauntered
past a branch of Jessops to see the self same thing at £69!
It's a free market, and people can charge whatever they think they
can get away with, so it's not really a con. But anyone who has
convinced themselves that online automatically means best value is
buying a a dubious line.. along with sinker and hook.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Thursday, January 26, 2006
"the platform was not optimal in ensuring more efficient business processes for the Lloyd's and London market and as a result it will close."
"The problem was underwriters and brokers just didn't seem to care about getting involved and making the market more technology based."
"Like all institutionalised projects, it fell foul of politicking, agendas, and civil service management structures, which drove costs through the roof."
Lloyd's role "should be primarily on standards setting, not building infrastructure"
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Because I know that, despite my best efforts, I often come into a room next morning to see that red light still glowing. So I think the answer has to be to to get rid of the standby. It's to easy to use and forget. So let's go back to on or off. Simple. And I still get to use the remote.
But then you read the full article and you see the whole issue is not quite that easy. Overseas manufactuers with access to UK markets. Systems that require constant power to function correctly ( to think I was moaning at my Mum for killing her whole system at the socket each night, which meant I kept having to reprogramme her set-top box every day). But for once I do think the answer is clear.
Let's take a stand against standby.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Kids on a sleepover. Wife asleep. Waaaaaay too frosty to do that
gardening I'd planned, and with no heating in the shed my latest pet
project may need to wait a few more weekends.
So of course the best thing to do is overload my already fried brain
by surfing around signing up to a bunch more newsletters. It really
is amazing what's out there if you start looking at odd links tucked
away on more frequently travelled sites.
And one thing struck me. We are not alone. At least when it comes to
the dreaded registration confirmation issue. Because having signed up
to various newsletters that politely advised that 'I would get an
email confirmation with a link to activate...'; I didn't. At least
until I looked in my spam filter. And there they all were.
What was funny, in a tragic sort of way, several of these had little
pleas to 'put this email sender address in the favourites folder to
avoid being intercepted', which of course I wouldn't have known about
had I not been up early on a Sunday and looking at places I don't
Life... don't talk to me about life.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Typical. This was one of the 'influencer media' we'd targeted who seemed likely to feature Junkk.com and reach a relevant audience. I was a bit amazed that it had a staff of five. Shows why we are struggling here with only three of us to generate all the original stuff we have to create, plus acquire and sift all the rest. I hoped they find new homes soon, as I thought it did a good job of informing and entertaining.
It is interesting that it was not deemed to be attractive to advertisers. My kids certainly grabbed each week. I wonder what the reasons were?
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
￼The usual conclusion to this is: '... they have more money'. But I
am wondering if it could not also be said: '... they'll always find
some willing media to be taken for a ride.. and drag us with them'.
It was a fluff piece about a super rich couple, and could be
discarded as such, but as you may have gathered by now I have a
slight problem with people in glass (or in this case crystal) houses
heaving bricks around. Especially with the support of the same media
who give us a hard time trying to get coverage 'as they're not here
to advertise new business ventures'.
But as these guys have cropped up in the same paper before for their
'environmental' views, I wondering what is being served here by
pandering to them. Other than a nice trip.
In case you can't access the link, as 'part of their launching
themselves into London society', this couple invited paper to join
them, and to hear the lady partner's “strong views” on animal
welfare. Their planet-saving efforts did not seem to encompass
avoiding flying at the drop of a hat, and they don't 'do commercial',
so let's hear it for the greenhouse gasses by using a private jet as
At least they plane-shared with the journo, which is nice as we're
told that for the property whose purchase that this jaunt was all
about, 'energy must be provided by solar panels and the pool
naturally cleaned with marine salts, not chlorine'.
If it were not tragic, it would be funny, which it also is (at least
they came off looking like complete... well, you decide). But just
what... are we mere mortals supposed to make of this? Why are we
being subjected to such people as examples of worthy eco-behaviour?
I know more down to earth stuff can be less entertaining, but I
really feel there's too much on the facile attempts of the uber-rich
to be green, and not enough on how more normal folks can really make
Here's a standing invitation to Ross-on-Wye to see how I'm making a
clamshell rucksack out of a vacuum cleaner if anyone's interested. If
you take the train we'll pick you up at the station:)
Monday, January 16, 2006
I'm simply being naughty here. So I apologise in advance for what is
perhaps more than an eyebrow twitch at what's possibly still a BTN
(better than nothing), though it still most certainly also struggles
to satisfy my cost:benefit measure.
On TV currently is one of several high-budget commercials which, if I
recall correctly, or indeed much of anything, involves something
about doing 20% of something. Basically I think it's a don't waste
stuff message, involving switching off lights. So far, so ok, why
not? Well, apart from where the production and media funds could have
gone to better effect.
However, in one thing struck me as an example of what seems to be
'pet projectism', whereby one branch of 'this is what we are saying
you should do without much in the way of new ideas how to,
suggestions on paying for it or incentives to do so' takes it upon
themselves to prioritise the right thing as they see it.
I just wonder why the main protagonists of this ad, gambolling about
in what seemed like a leafy inner London suburb, needed a dirty great
big black 4x4 SUV to go about their planet-saving affairs picking up
loft insulation. It's more switch of a light; fly to Verbier for the
weekend. And no, it didn't look like the Lexus hybrid. I can see how
a Prius may have been thought too obvious, but it just seemed like an
odd message as part of the mix.
From print column commentary to broadcast commercial executions, I
can't help but feel a slight disconnect between what the media
luvvies of Notting Hill think can and should be done, and the reality
of the lives of the majority of those who need to share in the waste
Unless... it was deliberate. Wooo. Subtle.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Not my day with blogs.
Here's another experience of a niggle, and I truly hope our site
doesn't do the same thing to anyone, as it does seem prevalent
because we've had it a lot when signing up (or at least trying to) to
various newsletters, etc.
The irony is that this time I was trying to get on a blog networking
site. Again free, so it's hard to be too grumpy.
But of course it had a registration, and of course there was a
requirement for a username in addition to email, passwords, etc.
But I have a very unique user name, so having got to the end of the
form it was not happy bunny time to have the whole thing go back to
square one because: 'User name already exists'. Pretty unlikely, but
So I tried again. Only this time the same thing happened because:
'email already exists'. I don't think so! I suspect it had logged my
previous attempt, but now I couldn't apply with my own email address.
With luck they will sort it out as there was a contact form, but...
sheesh. As I say, if we do it to you on junkk.com... sorry!
It reminds me of a time I had an online account with BT that required
a password, and it kept rejecting all my attempts, no matter how
obscure and how much I jumbled the letters and numbers up.
Eventually one worked. But I was well narked by then. So imagine my
embarrassment at a later date when I was discussing the account with
a very nice telephone support lady who asked for confirmation of my
password, which was: BTsuxbigtime4wastingmine. Fortunately, she
thought it was funny.
The previous one was sent in by email, but I'm adding this subsequently via blogger using Firefox. Hope it works!
No sooner had I sent this blog off than I got a confirmation from the site I was now subscribed. Go figure. This has happened before, with an error or failure message actually itself being in error. Trouble is this often results in repeat attempts and all sorts of fun creating duplicate entries without realising it.
Oh, and I also got a very nice email from the admin guys syaing they had got my feedback and would respond shortly. Hope they won't think I'm a nutter!
Writing this on a website that provides neat, free stuff makes it a
bit rich for me to grumble about another similar entity, but the
blogger I/we use for this very blog can be very frustrating at times.
When it works, it's great. But when it doesn't, it is hair-tearing
out time. And at the moment that's proving almost daily.
For one thing, it seems to be totally schizophrenic depending on
which browser I use, be it for reading or uploading. IE, Firefox,
Safari, Mozilla... all produce a different result, and seldom the
same one twice.
Sometimes I can edit, check spellings, play with type, add a picture
or insert a URL, and sometimes I can't. Often the feature to do it
isn't even there, or on other occasions it is, but doesn't work.
For this reason I started using the email upload feature, whereby you
create the blog as an email and 'send' it off to be published. This
has worked reasonably well, and at least enables hyperlinks, but you
still need to go back via a browser to add pictures. One frustration
is that if I create in Word (to check spellings), and then import as
an email, what uploads to the blog can be a real mess.
But lately even this is playing up, with typefaces bouncing around in
size and shape like yoyos. Often they appear off the blog format
screen. And when I try to correct them via the admin section, I end
up with a screed of code that is impossible to decipher. And the
latest quirk is sending it off only to find it never gets there. So
one day three will doubtless appear at once.
The long and short of it is that until I can bring this blog 'in-
house' (meaning money we don't have to spare), please bear with any
oddments that we can't sort our end. Including things like sloppy
spelling. I can see them, but I can't sort them out.
I wouldn't mind, but 'they' do have a help desk, and I have tried to
use it to resolve this, but no one has yet answered. As anyone using
Junkk.com knows, we do try and answer with issues on the site, and as
quickly as possible. So I can't figure why you'd have such a feature
and then not live up to it.
Now, let's see how this comes out onscreen. Fingers crossed!
...knock back the bubbly, way hey!
Apparently, Sainsbury's sold more bottles of champagne than tins of
Heinz baked beans over Christmas.
The rest of the article goes on about all sorts of marketing and
But I just can't get the fact that booze outsells a family food
staple out of my mind.
However, on balance I must to confess to a having felt a bit of smug 'toldyerzoism' momentarily, but for all the wrong reasons. I just have a major niggle about the culture of keeping on doing stuff and buying off the guilt by whacking a tree in the ground to compensate. It seemed/s the wrong way to tackle things, sending a compromised message, and looking all too easy to fall into the hands of every shyster around trying to play it for what they can get.
But I have alwasy felt that greenery.. was good. And I'll take some convincing I need to cut down my back garden and turn it into a forecourt. But John Prescott must be thinking the rapture has come, so look out Sussex!
Anyway, this blog is more often than not a way to see Junkk.com policy getting shaped, and this is a case in point.
On balance, we'll stick with reading stuff, sharing what we think is for real and valid, and let you decide. It isn't exactly the purest journalism (we don't, yet, have the budget to maintain 'Our Man In Havant'), but then I don't think very much of what the mainstream reports is either these days. We all see an item, maybe follow up, ask a few questions (but often not), and then whack it up there and see what happens to the ratings.
At least this report was by a team from the Max Plank Institute (supported by an expert from Oxford University), published in Nature and picked up by various news organisations, including the Guardian, and thence via me to you here. And that's not a bad provenance chain, at least for the facts. I'm not quite so sure about the interpretations and/or reactions.
However, at least we will keep on sharing such stuff with a sprinkling of eye-twitch, a hint of 'is this really the case?', and wherever possible with a counter view to put beside it. But I do think we're going to play down our focus on the information side of such issues, at least in areas such as climate change. For one, a lot of other, bigger guys are already doing it. And frankly, it's just getting us in a spin, so I can only imagine what it's doing for those with less chance to collate and review the various resources daily. First something is good, then its bad. Where the heck does that leave you to do for the best?
But mainly I think we'll focus a tad more on doing what we are desingned to do best, and I know can only help: which is try to reduce waste and promote efficiencies through end-benefit driven ideas, information in a form the general public can engage with and respond to, along with support and, where possible, associated rewards of saved time, effort and money. Sound like a plan?