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The only thing to blog about today.

The only thing to talk about today is the funny white stuff that appears to be falling out of the sky. According to the news reports schools in the midlands are closed and even a Christmas market was closed due to snow. I ask you just how ridiculous is this country getting. Police have apparently been called to the Business Class lounge at Heathrow because some flights have been cancelled. Once again the level of snow that would be regarded as nothing in an awful lot of countries brings vast parts of ours to a standstill. Clearly it is not worth our councils investing many millions of pounds in dedicated snow clearing machines that would only get used on a few occasions each year but surely the ability to put a plough and some chains onto some existing bin lorries or the like is not beyond the realms of possibility? Or is it, maybe I'm missing an important point but I dont think so.

I was reminded today of a phenomenon that I first encountered in Chatel, a small skiing village on the Porte du Soleil ski area of France. There is always something called the 'Snowline' a height at which above it falls snow and below it is rain. When you looked out the window of the Chalet at breakfast up the mountainside there was a very clear, exactly horizontal line where the trees were completely white above it and completely green below it, quite an amazing sight the first time. This is a video outside the window of my office today:

 and this is a picture outside a house in Purley which is probably about 400 feet lower than Caterham on the Hill where the video was taken.

Purley

Meaning that somewhere between Caterham on the Hill and Purley is the snowline and I suspect its just as you start going down the hill, I am just about to go and find out.

GDPR for Pulsar part 2

Good morning 

Part 2 of my VLOG on General Data Protection Regulation compliance. Back to normal blogging next week.

GDPR Part 2 from Roger Oxford on Vimeo.

 

General Data Protection Regulation

This is my first vlog rather than blog in an attempt to make this subject interesting. I will continue the saga next week!

Rogers 1st vlog from Roger Oxford on Vimeo.

 

All hail the almighty Apple

Wireless charging of devices has been around for some time now. The technology makes plugs and adapters obsolete The only thing you need is a Qi charging station (transmitter) and a phone with wtreless charging capabilities (receiver). As soon as your battery runs out of power, you place the device on the station and your phone immediately starts charging.

Wireless Charging Station

The number of public Qi (pronounced Chi) charging stations currently totals just 5000 worldwide but just watch this space!! With the just launched iPhone 8 and iPhone X Apple have embraced this technology. Game changing' products don't come along all that often for our industry Looking back over the years we have seen many gadgets come and go and last for different time penods mouse mats. modem cables. memory sticks. digital photo frames. and more recently portable power banks and charging cables (see previous blog regarding quality issues). Apple's decision to enter the market elevates Qi very much to game changer status.

Research has shown that up to 76% of consumers are eagerly awaiting wireless charging. There are expected to be 300 million phones with this feature by the end of 2018 and 1 billion devices by the end of 2020 all because Apple has come on board. Wireless charging is becoming widely available and growing rapidly with major automotive brands (Kia. BMW. Ford) including it in their cars, coffee shops (Starbucks, Costa), fast food outlets (McDonald's) and even brands such as Ikea offering wireless charging.

All the above makes this an ideal premium gift for those really special customers at the festive season.

Boys trip

Good morning

I'm afraid that this blog is going to be very short andf hopefully sweet. I will be making my way back from a really enjoyable boys trip to Blaymont in France just north west of Toulouse. A fairly regular occurance that allows me to get away from artwork and accounts and be able to exercise my I.T. skills usually quite fully. Tood much food and wine is of course a given on these trips and ad added to that is watching a Grand Prix with similar minded individuals. To top it all below is a video of one of my favourite things in the whole wide world!

Log fire from Roger Oxford on Vimeo.

 

Feeling chuffed with myself because of a hanging basket.

I've always been keen to celebrate Christmas by having extensive decorations both inside the house and outside. Unfortunately as I'm getting older the physical exertions of putting up lots of outdoor decorations is becoming harder and harder. Plus of course taking them all down again by twelfth night. Last year I thought I had solved this ever growing problem when I purchased an outdoor laser light. As I was hoping that this would allow me to leave the light up all year long and just attach it to a timer during the month of December I went to the trouble of mounting it onto a tree in front of my house. High enough up to be out of reach and wired permanently to the eaves of teh house and into the garage. Alas I had only bought a single colour laser light that provided a display that was dissapointing to say the least! Added to the poor display where I had mounted it onto the tree it only really shone on to one corner of the house. 

This year I decided that the principle was still valid and I just needed to be a bit more careful about the light I bought this time. Fortunately a friend of mine had bought a 3 laser light and was delighted with the show it put on. I managed to acquire exactly the same type of light and when I tried it inside I was very much impressed. The other problem though was where to put it this time. I had chosen high up on a tree last year so that any delightful person or persons, maybe a bit too full of the Christmas spirit, would not be able to relieve me of it, at least very easily. The ideal position for the new light is on top of a stump that is fairly dead centre in the front garden. The trouble with this is that it will be very tempting for any persons as previously described. Having thought long and hard about this problem a quick trip to the garden centre provided the solution.

3 Laser Light

Maybe not a perfect answer but at least it will deter a casual attempt to purloin it. Once December is here I will take a little video of the fruits of my labours and let you see if you think it has all been worth it.

Christmas is definitely coming, act now

I was out shopping on Friday just gone to purchase some things for my brother in law's 50th birthday party that we were hosting at the weekend and several things struck me. No 1 was that the northern end of the Purley Way must be avoided at all costs even midday on a Friday during half-term. Secondly, PC World really should change it's name now as there seemed to be precious few PC's in it and a lot more toasters and televisions. Clearly a sign that the internet is the place that the vast majority of anyhting to do with computers is bought now. Lastly was that all of the shops have already stated to gear up for Christmas with decorations being some of teh first items for sale as you walk through the door.

We too have added our Christmas goods slider image to our homepage with a relevant message on it even if I do say so myself.

Christmas product selection

The clocks have gone back this weekend and so with the days turning to night much earlier all our attention must turn to Christmas because it is a matter of just a few weeks away now. Presenting your customers with little gifts to show them how much they are appreciated is never a wrong thing to do. Admittedly it is extremely difficult to quantify the positive impact on sales against the negative impact on cash-flow of giving gifts at Christmas but in a time where the very notion of customer loyalty is very much on the decline a handy reminder of your generosity staring at them from their desks cannot possibly hurt.

The other thing that is now a very good idea is to send them a good old fashioned Christmas card through the post, Ten years ago your card would probably have just got lost amongst all of the other cards they received but now a physical card stands out from the crowd and if you are clever and get the cards to land on their desks within the first few days of December your companies name will be on show right up to and into the first day back in the new year. 

Attrracting new customers is most businesses primary focus and where they aim all of their marketing but keeping existing customers is just as if not more important. If the total cost of a card is around £2.00 including the postage but it keeps a client for another year that sounds like £2.00 well spent to me. It's time to stop thinking about about what you're going to do and start doing it.

Finally solved network problem after Windows 10 Creator update!!

When I initially upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7 all was perfectly hunky dory thank you. My Mac could see and talk to my PC and vica versa. Both machines have gigabit ethernet cards and my router has gigabit ports as well so network traffic was fast and furious. Then I made what was seemingly a sensible decision to install the "Creator" update for Windows 10 as I belive that from a security point of view it is important to install all updates and patches when they become available. Little did I know that from that moment on my Mac would no longer be able to see or connect to my PC. Further experiments on my part showed that using the wired ethernet connection my PC could see my Mac and connect to it but not the other way round. Needless to say many, far too many hours were spent turning firewalls off and back on again, chnaging the actual leads to the router etc and of course googling every conceivable phrase to describe the problem. More frustrating still was that if I used the wireless connection on the PC then suddenly the PC would appear when I browsed the network on the Mac and so for the last few months I have had to settle for that.

Last Friday though I had a few hours that I could once again devote to the problem and previous google searches had thrown up the snippet that the Creator update had wrecked the Master Browser function in Windows and a brief play with this did seem to have real promise. It's quite maddening that on Friday I did 3 things that either individually or collectively have solved the problem totally and I am now back with my full gigabit connectivity.

Firstly I discovered a post from someone that seemed to be an ex Microsoft programmer that made it clear I needed to disable something called SMBv1. SMB for those that want to know stands for Server Message Block and is a protocol that is commonly used in networking and is certainly the one used by my Mac to talk to my PC. Apparently by disabling SMBv1 it forces the computer to use the more secure SMBv2 and the even more efficient SMBv3. To do this you need to open a command prompt window with administrator prvileges and type the following 2 commands pressing enter after each one and then restarting the computer:

sc.exe config lanmanworkstation depend=bowser/mrxsmb20/nsi

sc.exe config mrxsmb10 start=disabled

Obviously what I should have done was see if this alone had solved my problem but me being me I started the process of installing the Windows 10 Creator Fall update and couldnt interupt it to check, silly boy. After the update fell over once and had to be restarted it did however install on the second attempt. The main reason for me wanting to install this update so soon after it had been released was I had noticed so many people complaining that Windows had broken the Master Browser in the previous update that I was hoping that they had fixed it in this one. A triumph of hope over experience I know. Once this had installed and I had restarted a couple of times I was keen to try my ethernet connection and it was at this moment a new problem reared its head. The ethernet connection would connect straight away but every couple of minutes it would keep the network connection but drop the internet and then the internet would come back but only for a couple of minutes before repeating the cycle. 

This was a new problem, the first thing to do was to make sure the latest driver was installed which Windows assured me that the adapter already had the best driver available. I did however go onto the manufacturer of the card's website and downloaded the same driver and installed that one instead. Still the same problem, damn it. So as a last resort I found a driver that was dated 2009 and was suitable for a 64bit version of Windows XP, I forced the installation of that driver instead of the latest one and hey presto all of my network problems have been solved, yaaayyyy.

I am writing this blog whilst drinking a glass of champagne, cos I bloody well deserve it!!

Well Deserved Champagne

Fidget Spinners 'R' Us

It seems that the must have item in every home at the moment is a "Fidget Spinner", something of a craze that until I tried one seemed completely pointless to me. The relevant phrase though is "until I tried one", something very weirdly satisfying and calming about having this strange object spinning around on your finger! 

What became clear though is that you need a good quality "spinner" to really get teh best out of it. Have a look at this one on our website:

Pure Copper Fidget Spinner

Either search for "Pure Copper Fidget Spinner" or for "SC00232459" and just think what a great promotional gift for your customers these would make for at Christmas this year. Certainly for me these are more effective than the good old fashioned stress ball and a much more quality gift feel to it. We have a large range of these must have gifts this year so if a copper ships wheel is not your thing how about one of these:

Unique Style Fidget Spinner

These are made from a copper alloy and can be either lasered or engraved with a logo, search for SC00231835 for all the details. Just remember that whatever else you do this Christmas make sure you keep your customers spinning!!

Before and after

A few years ago marketing guru's in America claimed that you should change your logo every few years and I thought at the time it seemed a bit extreme but my toils over the weekend might just have convinced me otherwise. 

Having succumbed to much pressure from the wife I very reluctantly put my old decorating clothes on and opened a tin of paint for the first time in many years. I loathe deocrating personally as I spent most of my teens doing it rather than getting out enjoying myself. I have to say though that the result does appear to be a spectacular improvement as this picture illustrates:

Before and after

Unfortunately I might well be a victim of my own success, aaaarrrrgghhh!!

However maybe it's time you consider doing a similar thing to your own brand and see if you can achieve a similarly spectacular improvement in your company's image.

If any of the following are true then it really is time to act:

  • Your brand has changed its name.
  • Your company has modified its service or product offerings.
  • You haven't changed your logo in over a decade.
  • Your current logo was not professionally designed and could be improved.

Any of those ring true? If so come and talk to us and revitalise your company image.