Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ipad 2 to Blackberry Playbook

DAB Radio
Having left Discovery earlier this month I was touched to receive, as a going away present  a nice new DAB radio and also a year's membership of the RHS.The downside was the loss of my work Ipad2 which I'd used mainly for BBC radio listening on BBC iplayer- the search was therefore on for a competitively priced equivalent. With the launch of Kindle fire and the new smaller mini-ipad (not to mention the Samsungs and the new Microsoft  surface devices)  there was a lot to choose from perhaps surprisingly I opted for the 64GB version of the Blackberry Playbook which so far I'm very happy with. The purchase (from Curry's PC world) was £129 and as advertised worked from the box. My requirements probably not too demanding but e-mail, web, BBC iPlayer and The Economist magazine all seem good in a very compact light unit- need to get the connector which will allow me to show youtube videos etc on HD screen.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

New Ealing Eateries

Pillars Restaurant
Last couple of weeks has given us the chance to experience some different dining out opportunities in the West of this great capital that we live in.
First was a chance to see what the local University (University of West London which I took some training at when it was Ealing College) was doing with  it's Hospitality and Tourism students. We actually had lunch which was slightly rushed as the students are fitting it in with their lectures. Overall a good experience where there was enthusiasm as well as a slight side dish of embarrassment (on the students part). Next time we'll go for an evening booking as parking during the day is a challenge. The restaurant is called Pillars for some odd reason and it is licensed and probably 50% cheaper than a normal commercial restaurant of similar standard.

The next review is a place that is new to Ealing (not just us) when I first arrived in Ealing there was a Maples furniture store which havinbg been Old Orleans with offices above is now a 'boutique hotel' called Xanadu (not to be confused with the film starring Olivia Newton John)  and the restaurant is  called Koobla.
Very attentive staff and a somewhat different menu (Mongolian/Malaysian sort of fusiony vibve) - pleasant and relaxing but normal price - as they say you pays your money and make your choice.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Connected TV and the John Lewis 5 year guarantee

Wednesday evening and I went to an RTS London presentation session  on connected TV Chaired by Julian Clover. There were some interesting insights by the panel  particularly Daniel Danker of (Great title General Manager, Programmes & On Demand at BBC)  and also Ian Mecklenburgh, Director, Consumer Platforms at VirginMedia Digital Entertainment (average sort of title).
This was the first time I had product life cycle described as the length of John Lewis guarantee, this goes some way in describing the audience there and I fear is a term that I'll hear more than once in the future.
 The Shop mentioned
Again  the big factors described were the refuseniks who buy a TV and don't connect to the Internet, the (future) death of linear  and the disappointment that Samsung etc. are feeling as a result of people who fail to see them  as content aggregators.
 Are we going to see the average domestic big screen TV full of 'Apps' Ian said no and described is enjoyment at shaking big screens when directed !
So will we continue along the tablet journey? - seems so from the collected industry wisdom.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Active Consumer

Now it might verge on the eccentric but I do like to engage with the producers of the products I consume - this doesn't always cause the consequences I anticipate but think we should all respond if we're not happy or want to even say how good something is.
Here are some of my small campaigns: (there are others but I'd hate to bore you)

1) When I got back to UK after a few years working abroad I was disappointed with Maynards Wine gums - I thought they'd lost something of their flavour - I wrote and got the reply 'we were sorry you failed to enjoy here's a voucher'.
2)  I like Kellogg's Country Store it stopped being produced and after holidaying in Moscow was surprised to find the hotel there had it - on inquiring was told it was only produced for commercial distribution - thankfully it's now reappeared in Tesco's.

and here's my latest

3) Toilet Duck disc refills - the campaigns have indicated that these are available so you don't need to throw away that applicator - SC Johnson have let me know supermarkets who are purchasing from them so far only got response from Sainsbury's who tell me their West Ealing branch will have them in November.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Feet of Clay (Armstrong and Saville)

Recent developments around the reputations of Lance Armstrong and Jimmy Saville have highlighted the gap  between perceptions and the edifice these figures have constructed and reality.
Mrs T and Sir Jim

Are we all witting and unwitting accomplices in the construction of heroes with unrealisable virtues (or at least virtues without any compensating vices)?

I'm not sure that I can blow the whistle on any figure particularly but perhaps I think I am not without guilt in terms of agreeing to keep quiet about things I shouldn't have.

It is true that Saville as a working class lad born between the wars was something of dinosaur even on the 60s and 70s but there are plenty of other figures from the time who did not carry out child abuse so this does not provide the answers.

Lance and Sheryl
And Armstrong what drove him to break so many rules, was it for some approval that he did not receive previously?

While not knowing the answers to these particular  characters what we can reflect on is the further removal of innocence around public figures which might not be such a bad thing.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Point of Sale Terminal in every dream home - A short primer

I started work when there was only a handful of analogue TV channels in thew UK- In those old analogue days Travel was a great extra you could explore on teletext services - the pictures of the resorts weren't great but there were some competitive offers.

Later in my career I spent some time at NDS where there was some thought being given to the possibility of interactivity allowing all sorts of purchases via the TV as it was a slightly geeky thought process the concept was for ordering a Domino's  pizza (other breaded product suppliers are available) during the commercial break by hitting one of the coloured buttons you'd trigger a purchase request.

A few years after I had worked at NDS  there was quite a buzz around new varieties of newer MPEGs (7 is  ringing bells here) the idea seemed to be that you could purchase Rachel from Friend's wardrobe (her clothes more than an Ikea flatpack) - this though presupposed something of either a PC experience or a complicated arrangement around a sophisticated remote control not slouching on the floor in the lounge.

Now what we have is the ipad or other tablet where if the programme you're watching is 'making' you want something you can follow a few Zeebox links and buy- it's a game changer and  it enables quasi advertising on Public service broadcasting. (And don't get me started on the Sport advertising the BBC already carries in shows like Match of the Day).
More consumption drives growth in our flagging economy why would any government object to what is an effective way of purchasing from the sofa?  As they say resistance is futile.
The question now is can Amazon steal the lead on Google with the possibility of using the Kindle Fire as a trojan horse - already there are said to be worries at Google Towers that potential purchasers gor direct to Amazon rather than face a barrage of  irrelevant 'suggestions' from google search- great article here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tidy time

Barnet or what?
Been down the allotment a couple of times this week but mainly on the construction of Compost enclosure.
Also now am into repeating last year with Broad Beans planted (in pots) and Garlic bulbs too (see left)- this time have bought the bulb from Garden centre rather than used a standard supermarket one - which was not great last year.

I have been having a bit of a tidy and found all sorts of junk including the photo on the left from my days in France at Euronews - not sure if it still the case but at that time residents were required to have an ID this was mine.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Macedonian Liberation day

I have only just learnt that  October 11th is the National  liberation day of Macedonia.
For the next few weeks I have some interesting home and allotment projects to complete these include a shed lock to protect (surprise surprise) my shed and a more sophisticated room thermostat.

Alarm kit

Autumn sun
Ham House
Today we visited National Trust's Ham House site - lovely autumn sunshine and were able to enjoy a sandwich outside. For some odd reason my already bad sense of direction is getting worse and I decided that the signs directing me there were wrong, we got there in the end.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Cabbage and kings

Cabbages ready soon
Every time I visit the allotment there's either things to pick or things to dispose of I 've collected more Tomatoes, Peas, Beans Swede, Courgettes and another Kohlrabi. Soon looks like cabbages will be ready.
I'm now clearing areas too and will start a second pallet compost unit in a week or two.
Another recycling job