Archive for the ‘(Uncategorized)’ category

So long Blogger, and thanks for all the posts

March 10th, 2010

First of all welcome to my new WordPress based blog. I was doing a dry run of the migration from Blogger to WordPress but when switching things back it started to go wrong, so I decided to switch over now rather than faff around. I will blog about what I learned very very soon with scripts and instructions.

I could not let this moment pass without saying a big thank you to Blogger, now part of Google. I have managed this blog with Blogger for just under 4 years and other than the odd frustrating niggle, that you get with everything, it has been a pleasurable experience. I will continue to use it for some other blogs where I don’t need the ability to run scripts or integrate with other web content. Thank you once again and keep up the good work.

Finally I am still figuring out a few of the settings, and am going to tweak the look and feel a bit, so please be patient.

Goodbuy Wake up to Wogan

December 18th, 2009

So, that is it, the end of… something. I will not go on about it, but I felt the need to blog something to commemorate it, so this is my last email to the show…

Hi Terry and the posy,

I was trying to find something clever and profound that sums up the moment. Something that brackets everything we are all feeling and summarises our many years together. Something that notes those we have lost along the way with joy, and reminds you that although we write our show, we can only do this through you. Sadly my mind is blank so I will take this opportunity to ask who’s stupid idea was this WUTWAC? It’s completely useless.

Mad Alistair (No relation)

A WUTWAC is a Wake Up To Wogan Alarm Clock that were given out as prizes many a year ago. My signed photo of Terry is still hanging on the back of the toilet door. :-)

My popular poppys

November 13th, 2009

Plastic Poppys

As you may know I like taking photographs. I often go on photo walks with friends, and nearly always have a camera to hand. As part of BarCampManchester2 some of us took some Geocaching virgins on a Geocaching trip, and on the way back I spotted a poppy wreath from the earlier remembrance services. I have wanted a good remembrance poppy picture as a stock photo so had a go, and the result is above. I must confess I was not really happy with the picture as it had nothing special, and I feel I could have framed it slightly better, but I uploaded it to flickr anyway.

I thought nothing more about the picture until Sunday when all of a sudden people started commenting on the photograph and marking it as one of there favourites. It turns out that it was the first of 5 poppy pictures featured on the Flickr blog. This means that picture also shows up on a user’s flickr home page. Then things got a little silly with hundreds and hundreds of people looking at the picture and then looking throught the rest of my photo stream. Probably because of this the picture was listed in flickr’s explorer, that I have never really understood to be honest, but apparently it is a privilege to be listed so I am grateful. This got more people looking and after a couple of days 4,000 plus people have viewed the picture, 144 marked it as a favourite, and it has had more comments than I can be bothered to count. All this on a picture that I don;t believe is my best work.

The down side of this is that I have been starting to get the odd daft tag on some pictures so I have had to restrict the tagging of my pictures to contacts only. I am also deleting comments that link to another site that look like spam to me. Apart form this nuisance it is all good and I have a warm feeling knowing that so many people are enjoying your work. I would like to thank those who have taken the time to look through my other photos, found some you like, and commented as such. Not forgetting those daft nuts who continue follow my work on an ongoing basis. It is nice to be appreciated.

Manager Tools Effective Manager and Effective Communications Conferences, London

October 20th, 2009

I have been a Manager Tools podcast listener for quite some time and have found it most useful in my business career. It is a product of the American businessmen Mark Horstman and Mike Auzenne. They have taken there military experience and applied it to modern day business practices with amazing effect. The podcast is a great learning resource if you are new to management or wanting to improve your skills by learning from others. You can find out more and download the podcast at

The reason why I mention this is that mark and Mike are holding two one day conferences in London next January. The first day is the Effective Manager conference, and the second is the Effective Communications conference held the following day.

Currently I can not justify spending this kind of money on a one day conference so will not be attending, but if you can justify spending the money I do recommend looking at spending it on this.

Dorkbot Newcastle

September 9th, 2009

Our fist monthly Dorkbot Newcastle is launching on the 5th October 2009 at the Centre for Life.

A Dorkbot is an event where a group of people interested in making things get together to talk about their projects and share ideas with each other.

To start the event we have three guest speakers. Evan Raskob who is a visiting Dorkbot regular London, Aaron Nielsen who will be talking about developing with the Arduino, and, errr, me who will be trying to inspire fellow creators by showing off a percussion machine that can be built in a few hours.

So please come along meet other like minded and creative people, see what others are building, and perhaps show off that you are playing with.

Upcoming Hack and Geek events

August 28th, 2009

Oddly I have been asked a few times what events are worth attending. I have also been asked to help pimp a few events recently as well, so this post will hopefully help everybody. If you are interested in learning, building, or socialising then have a look at the evens and consider coming along.


Sat 29th : Geek Steam BBQ


Sat 5th – Sun 6th : BarCampBrighton
Fri 4th – Sun 6th : Geeks in the Peaks

Fri 11th – 12th : EcoMo09
Sun 13th : Big Geek Day Out

Sat 19th – Sun 20th : Charity Hack Day

Fri 25th – Sat 26th : Over the Air
Sat 26th – Sun 27th : BathCamp


3rd – 4th : Hack North

Sat 17th : BarCampBlackpool

24th – 25th : BarCampLondon7

Sat 31st : VampDevCamp


Sat 7th – Sun 8th : BarCampManchester2

Sat 14th : BarCampBradford

The only filtering criteria I have used on this list is if it is an event that I would like to attend (if I had the time). In truth I will be attending quite a few of them, probably more than I should.

Update: BarCampLondon7 added.

Goodbye to my 0870 numbers

August 1st, 2009

As of today my 0870 telephone numbers will no longer work. I have been prepared for this and have changed these numbers on the various web sites and registrations where I use them. This is because Ofcom have changed the regulation on these numbers reducing the termination fee (the fee a the company operating the numbers gets when the number is called) from 6p/minute to 0.5p/minute.

Although I am loosing the use of my 0870 (unless I pay for then) I am very much in favour of this move. People have been told that 0870 is the same as a national call, and this was technically true, it was the same price as a full price call from a BT line, but we almost never pay the full price of that call because of the calling package we are forced to take with a telephone line. All these free and 5p an hour call offers do not apply to 0870 numbers.

So when you called an 0870 number you were paying way over the odds, and the company you were calling was often very happy with this as they normally made a little bit of money whenever you called them. Because of this I refer to 0870 numbers as premium rate numbers.

For reference I have not made any money by using 0870 numbers, but they do have other advantages. They can be mapped to any other number so if I move or go on holiday I can get the calls to follow me, they cost a little bit more so I do not get marketing calls on them, and they cost next to nothing to set up (if you use the correct company) so can be used as disposable numbers for when you don’t want your details to be in the public domain.

Hopefully more telecommunication companies will now include 0870 and 0845 in there calling packages so they are free (BT have already started doing this) and more normal companies will use 03 numbers (that are the same as 01 and 02 numbers but non geographic).

Finally if you need to call an 0870, and 0845, or an 0800 (normally free, but often costs more on a mobile) then check out Say no to 0870 first. You enter the number or company that you want to call and more often than not it will give you a normal (01, 02 or now 03 number) to call instead.


April 24th, 2009

I am please to announce that the long anticipated first round of tickets for BarCampNorthEast2 have been released. Again we follow the Thinking Digital conference on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th May. We will be based in the Centurion’s conference rooms in Central Station, Newcastle.

In summery a BarCamp is a collection of semi like-minded people who get together to socialise and learn from each other. When you come along you can participate in all sorts of interesting sessions ranging from the technical to the silly, and everything in between.

More information about the event, as well as information about signing up, can be found on the BarCampNorthEast web site.

New web site

March 11th, 2009

Welcome to the new web site. We are still working on things so please come back soon.


February 13th, 2009

Occasionally I blog about a charity event. I do not do this often as the last thing I want is a hard sell every time I read a blog, and I suspect you are the same. This in one charity event that I am not only happy to support, but one you might find fun to follow, and you may even be able to help with.

Paul Smith, a good man, and only slightly crackers, had an idea while waiting in a supermarket queue. We are all users of Twitter. If stuck for something we can say so using Twitter and someone will have an answer or be able to help. Most users are selfless and will go out of there way to help people who they have never met. The idea was to ask the Twitter community to help him hitchhike round the world and see how far he can get. He put up a web site and we (his so called friends) told everyone he was doing it so he could not pull out. :-) He is now scared witless, but very much up for the challenge.

You can follow Paul on twitter and read more about the challange on the the twitchhiker blog. No matter where you are, if you are a Twitter user, please follow him and help him in his travels.