Saturday, March 31, 2007

A facelift for the Family website

oldsite.thumbnail For some time i have been hosting a family website, it's only available to the select few that have been issued a username and password, but recently I have thought that it was a bit stale looking and also a bit too difficult to manage.

Working in IT, I tend to have duplicate setup's for testing and development, so for my website, I had the source code in one place, the test site in another and then the live site, so I seemed to be forever moving content about.

After looking around at some open source CMS (content Management Systems), i discovered CMSMadeSimple.newsite.thumbnail

This is a great CMS site that allows me to publish content directly onto the site, it looks better that the old site too, and the best part is that there is a whole community of developers out there developing plug-in modules and neat little utilities.
I can even display my blog posts on it via an RSS feed, watch out, I'll be podcasting soon.

New Website

new website using CMS Made Simple

Old website

Old Family website, where i neede 3 copies??

Monday, March 19, 2007

MP3 / MP4 Player from firststepahead (ebay seller(

This is the one i went for in thend, mainlt because i couldn't finf anyone else selling them.

MP3 Player at last (and it works)

mp4pic1nokqk7.thumbnail After all the hassle with my Chinese MP3 Player, I decided to go to a seller on eBay that is in the UK, the MP3 layer is still a Chinese import, but at least when it goes wrong I can speak to someone in the same language and the same time zone.

After some basic testing the player seems to do what it's supposed to, so overall, I'm happy with it.

Although, i will wait a few more days before leaving feedback on eBay.

When the item arrived this morning, I heard a great noise as it fell in the floor, the postman had a real job getting it through the letterbox, i was actually expecting a knock on the door and a request for a signature, but the item had been posted first class only and not recorded, so I expect the postman though he couldn't knock on the door, and the letterbox was a must!.

The Jewellers

This morning we had some time, so my wife had been through her Jewellry box and picked up a few peices that needed repairing, so we thought we'd nip into the jewellers while in town and get a few things done.

Well, I dont believe it...

We had..

  • 4 Watches that needed batteries

  • A gold chain that was broken (a very old one)

  • A gold bracelet that needed a safety chain put back on

  • A silver bracelet that needed a new clasp

The bit that got me going was the watches, each new battery will cost £5.99, but.... if the watch has a waterproof seal,  if we want to keep it waterproof, it will cost an additional £4.99.

That's like taking your car to the garage and being charged extra to put the bonnet back on the car after an engine lift, even though it had one on when it was driven in to the garage.

Things went down hill from there, we were kept waiting for an incredible amount of time, so I started looking around.

The first thing I noticed was that the shop had undergone a recent makeover, yep in the race to make things better, thay had ripped out the old counters that were placed around the 3 sides of the shop, where evrybody could have a little privacy while making their purchase, and people could queue in an orderly fashion, to a carousel, where by everybody is facing the middle, hence the store assistants never knew who was next to be served?, also I noticed that while I was waiting, with the new system they had of tracking all sales, every time a purchase was made, the request came from the centre, "Post Code please", followed by the purchasers post code, then, "House Number", followed by the persons house number, then, yep, last of all, "Name" followed by the persons surname, I now had enough to consider identity theft....., who knows who was listening, but each time a shop full of strangers heard all the details.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ipod or not Ipod

For those who noted my post about the cheap MP3 player, well the latest update is that, Mr Hongchu1126, refunded me in full as I requested, after I posted a paypal dispute claiming the item was not fit for purpose, i.e. it should recharge the battery to be able to play tunes when not plugged into a computer!!.

It's a shame though that i also requested that Mr Hongchu1126, send me the cost of posting the item back to Hong Kong, which I will happily do....when he send me the postage.

I have to moan here, its appalling that we (the consumer) is always expected to run around after the retailer when they sell us faulty or shoddy goods, I have lost count the number of times my wife has returned goods to tesco, or I have returned goods to PC World or Dixon's, all of these have the same symptons, i.e. we buy the goods expecting it to do what it says on the box, we get them home (so far I'm happy to take the cost), we then unwrap the item, discard the instructions (in some cases, but not always) and proceed to make the item work, only to find that it doesn't.

Then what follows is a call to the shop (normally involving a long queue in an automated queuing system, followed by a hacked off teenager that knows best), then a trip the next day, to get back to the store manager, and convince another teenager, that the item really is faulty, and we are not just being silly!!(now this has involved more precious time, the cost of driving back to the store and the inconvenience), then eventually we get the option of a full refund or a replacement, if we want to take another chance on the goods working!.

Anyway, I will hold this useless MP3 player as ransom until Mr Hongchu1126 pays for the postage back to Hong Kong.

In the meantime, I'm bidding on a refurbished Ipod (With warranty and in the UK) on ebay.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

You get what you pay for

Recently i have been into MP3 players, the main reason is because i have started to keep fit, and while exercising, its good to listen to my own musiv on an MP3 player.

sd_card_mp3_player_blk_g.thumbnail I while ago i bought a really cheap one, but it only had 128 MB of memory on it, so after 2 CD's it was full, not much good to me really, so i looked on ebay, and in my enthusiasm, ended up buying 2 cheap mp3 players.

The first was really cheap, but it requires that you install a SD card up to 2 GB, well i only have a spare card with abou 256 MB, so i will use that, the product is ok, it cost me £5, and i'd say it was worth it, its a Suresmooth 23 player, and it does what it says on the box.

At the same tim i started to bid on a 1GB MP3/MP4 player this one was unbranded but claimed to use samsung memory, although shipped from Hong Kong, it actually turned up within the week, so i was quite happy, i loaded all my music on it, only to find out that even 1 Gb was not enough!, anyway, i stuck it on charge and left it for a while, and assumed it was charging.6039_1_b.thumbnail

After a while i started to play back some music while working in the garden etc, after a couple of hours it stopeed, up until this point i had been quite happy, the item had only cost me £21 including shipping.

I put the item back on charge and noticed that the power was not staying on ! hmm looks like its not charging...

My fears are correct, after leaving on charge for nearly 10 hours, it still does not have enough charge to play more that half a track!

So i have emailed the seller on ebay to see if they will replace the item, although i dont think i should pay to return the item if it is faulty!, Their ebay listings promise email responses with 48 hours... well see, luckilly i paid with paypal, so if i have mo luck i will register a dispute with paypal and test out the paypall buyer protection program.

MP3 / MP4 Player from Hong Kong


Saturday, March 3, 2007


Today is one of those DIY Days.

Just the 2 Jobs to complete

  1. Change the Float arm in the ensuite bathroom, to stop that annoying dripping sound

  2. Get the TV Aerial working on the office so i can rig a spare freeview box up to the computer

The first job was easier than i expected, so far no leaks, althogh the first attempt i forgot to use PTFE tape, and i ended up with a drip in the wrong place!, but it didn't take long to redo.

The second job was also pretty easy, the previous occupants had just snipped the wire in the loft, so i just neede to extend it back to the main aerial, and it all worked, it even left me enough time to write about it on this blog.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Hider in the House - are the BBC Insane ?

What is going on at the BBC.

hiderinthehouse.thumbnail It normally takes a lot to send me into a rage, but the BBC did it with ease this evening.

While watching CBBC (a channel aimed specifically at children), I saw a program being trailed called "Hider in the house", now the part of this that really enraged me was that the theme of this program is to encourage young children to hide a celebrity in their house, without their parents knowing, for 2 days, if they succeed, they will win a wheelbarrow full of prizes.

So why did this enrage me...

Well here's why,  firstly no child should be encouraged to hide anything from their parents, this is the kind of technique that paedophiles use with their victims, by convincing the child not to tell their parents? in today's world should the BBC be encouraging children to hide adults in their bedrooms.

secondly, recently I heard a story in the news about a teenager that had a paedophile living under a bed for 3 months while abusing them, all this without the parents knowing.

well this  program immediately caused me to complain to the BBC, so I got on the web site and got hold of the complaints line number 08700 100 222, and registered my views, while just about remaining calm.

I also asked for a response by telephone, as when you do this by email, you cannot respond back again.

I will comment when i get a reply, keep a look out on this blog

Hider in the House

The web page from the BBC that Encourages Children to hide Celebrities in their house without the parents knowledge..

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ballet Exam

At the end of March my daughter takes her grade 1 ballet exam.

Currently the panic is on wih exta ballet lessons at weekends and at school during lunch times.

Because of the extra lessons, and the need to practice at home, we have also had to attend some of the extra lessons, so we can instruct and progress the ballet "Home work".

The teacher  recognises that our daughter is very good at dance and has asked us to allow even more extra lessons 1 on 1, so she can hopefully pass the exam with a distinction.,at the moment, our daugter seems to spend most of the lessons waiting for the other girls to catchup.

So what's the difficulty, I hear you ask ?

Well to avoid envy and fear of favouritism, we have had to keep the extra lessons quite fom the other girls, so where do we have these lessons ?? yep,at the school of course on a saturday morning..

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Teenagers Hooked on Porn

What is going on at the BBC?

As you are aware if you read my personal pages, I am a father of an impressionable 8 year old daughter. like most girls her age, she still likes to watch the CBBC channel until close at 7 pm, after that, and still within the watershed, she likes to watch BBC 3, mainly because of programs based on reality TV, although at 7 pm this should be censored....

Anyway, imagine my horror when at the start of BBC 3 (7 Pm) the very first trailer was for a program called "Teenagers hooked on porn", now as it happens this was a documentary, about.... yep you guessed... anyway, I though, what if my daughter asks me what porn is ???? what do i say ? and is this really suitable language at 7 pm.

Anyway, it stirred me up enough to complain to the BBC, the first time ever in ,my life! and I would generally say that I am open minded etc etc, so ithought I would use the BBC complaints website to register the complaint.

My points were as follows:

  • Is this really suitable for family viewing

  • Should this be shown at 7 pm ?

Here is a copy of my complaint:..

Recently BBC3 have trailed and preveiwed a programme called "Teenagers hooked on porn", this trailer was shown at 7 pm, well before the watershed and at peak family viewing, could you explain how i should explain the word "Porn" to an 8 year old??I requested a response so that i could see how the complaint was dealt with.

A couple of days later i got a reply from the BBC, here it is:..

Thank you for your e-mail regarding trails shown on BBC THREE. I note your objections to the programme 'Teens Hooked on Porn' being trailed before the Watershed. The 9.00 PM Watershed is established as a pivotal point in the evening's viewing and we pay particular attention to the context and scheduled transmission times of each trail to try and ensure its suitability. However, our public obligation is to provide services for all licence-payers and not just those with children - some 70% of households do not contain children. If we scheduled all such broadcasts at a later hour we would deny many adult viewers information about programming they might wish to see.

By their very nature trails are unannounced so our audiences have no advance warning when they are to occur. We realise that material suitable for a billed and scheduled programme might not be suitable as a promotion. Nevertheless, the main purpose of such a promotional trail is to ensure the maximum number of people are given the opportunity to sample the widest possible range of our programmes, and can make informed decisions on their viewing.

While we respect sensitivities, we must provide an honest and straightforward indication of a programme's content. We would not wish to mislead by sanitising a trail so that the subsequent programme caused offence. I must point out that the trail in question was not transmitted at a time or upon a channel designated for children's viewing.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the strength of your objections on this issue. Please be assured that your dissatisfaction has been registered and has contributed to our daily log which will be made available to the BBC Broadcast teams, our scheduling department and senior management.

Thank you for taking the time to contact BBC Information.


Anne Lavan

BBC Information

Unfortunatly, the email is sent from an address that cannot be responded to, so i have let this drop for the time being and await to see if it happens again.

Apart from the warped view of the BBC about the British population, i think they really need to catch up with the real world.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

I Love Wordpress

After being so far behind with my version of wordpress i was a bit worried that it could all go horribly wrong, however as i should have know, Wordpress is just so good, the installation dook longer to download than it did to install.

Simply copy the files into you blog directory, go to  a browser and run the upgrade script, what could be easier.

Anyway now i am running the latest version, ill try to keep the blog upto date a bit more.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Getting Behind, I'd Better Catch up!!!

It seems such a long time since my last post, actually it's about a month.

Things have been very busy for me lately, at work i am managing a very large project, that is planned to replace our core business systems, this is a staged project and we are in the earlt trials of the remote data capture (yad yada blah blah), as well as this major project i have a few smaller projects on the go, again defining and implementing new systems for different parts of the business, its not only enough tokeep me busy, it can drive me barmy too.

At home i have been decorating my daughters bedroom, it's very pink, unfortunatly i forgot to take the before and after pics, so youll have to take my word for it, in fact it's so pink that the pink reflects of the white gloss around the windows and skirting boards, you even feel pink when you walk in, but she loves it.

I have also been busy tidying up my brothers web site, alot of the smart stuff he can do himself, but as i have the tools and a bit more experience in web development, i get to play around with the PHP scripts and CSS files, so far the site is looking pretty good.

The Solarchart site is built using the  opensource Zencart package, it's very flexible and has the scope to build up to a larg scale business system, just ready for when we get there.

In the mean time i have negleted my blog, as i log on to make this post i have noticed that my version of wordpress is now at least 3 versions behind, the dilemmer i have now is, do i junp to the current version, or upgrade through all the versions in between, just in case there have been some DB changes along the way??