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May, 2010

  1. Arsenal silver membership

    May 24, 2010 by admin

    At long, long, loooong last I found out today that my red membership has been replaced by silver. Just over a decade ago when I first started going to Highbury on regular (lyish) basis, I registered to become a member of Arsenal FC. The entry level is a red member and it’s basically a way of the club making loads of money every summer. Aside from ‘the pack’ that they send you each year, which is more often than not, useless tat, red membership just keeps your place in line for what you’re really after; a silver membership. I’ve lived at 6 addresses since being on the waiting list and as they only introduced direct debit last year, so I’ve had to remember to call every year to pay my dues and keep my place.

    Buying a ticket to a game as a red membership is not easy, even with the increased capacity at the Emirates. As a red you have to make do with early Carling cup games or, with a lot of luck and your redial finger ready, an early Premiership ‘glamour’ clash versus Wigan. The reason being that after season ticket holders, tickets go on sale to silver members a month before a game and any that are left are then offered on general sale.

    This year I went a dozen or so times as I rented half a season ticket and it’s been great to see so much football and so many of the ties I hadn’t previously. I’ve probably seen Arsenal live 30 odd times and through a combination of supporting an excellent team (a few years ago) and some serious luck, I am still to witness them lose a game live. Sure I’ve seen us play badly and win and a handful of draws but I’m convinced I’m a lucky mascot! Pretty remarkable seeing as I’ve seen us play Man U twice, Spurs, Liverpool and Barcelona in the last couple of seasons.

    Anyway, silver membership means I don’t need to fork out £600 to share the season ticket again and can just pick and choose which games to go to.

    Happy, happy days.

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  2. Number one on Google!

    May 21, 2010 by admin

    After a mere two years of writing What Now?!! it now holds the coveted number one spot on Google for the search term ‘cleft lip and palate blog‘. And the even catchier ‘cleft lip blog‘ is showing in a respectable fourth.

    The holy grail is of course to see it much higher for ‘cleft lip and palate’ and ‘cleft lip‘ and hopefully in time that’ll happen as more people link to it. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but it must now be the longest surviving, consistently updated blog about a cleft lip and palate situation out there. I know Clapa has a blog but that started after mine. I also think that there are some people who genuinely appreciate it. I’ve said time and time again how much research we did right after Jake’s cleft was diagnosed and how much a source of comfort the various medical and association websites were. There weren’t any personal accounts though, no blogs of any great substance, so I hope that writing our story up will help others as they get the news. Despite the great work the Smile Train and Clapa do, the problem is inexorable and will continue. As such the blog will continue getting hits and with luck keep climbing the organic search results.

    I have a very modestly budgeted AdWords campaign for searches using various cleft terms and that’s driven traffic but as altruistic as I am, my budget means my ads are exhausted by around midday.

    They say you’re never more than 7 people away from the Queen or something; basically that we all know someone who knows someone. Just do a search for ‘Dave’ on Facebook for example. The results will show you all the Daves you’re not friends with but with whom you share mutual friends. The thing is that, often, you’ll find the mutual friends you have with a certain Dave, have no reason to know each other, no connection. So they’re both mates with you and Dave but not each other. My point being is that networking is so important and with technology these days, so easy too. We all like to help each other out, make recommendations, introductions etc and so I keep the blog so it can be referenced, shared, tweeted etc. Technology has made entrepreneurs of all of us. It’s not that we weren’t that way before, just that we didn’t have the tools or inclination or time to make it happen. Well some did but most didn’t. I know I have friends who read the blog and I’m sure some people think I’m a prat for wearing my heart on my sleeve and so be it. I do it because I can and that I enjoy it and crucially, it might help someone.

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  3. New Nike World Cup advert. 3 minutes of awesome

    May 21, 2010 by admin

    I’m a big fan of football and also of the World cup. I just don’t like England. All the friendlies and qualifiers which get in the way of the premier league and the endless underachievement of overpaid, classless ‘stars’ irritates me. However, this is a great ad which is going to wow people when it airs during the finals next month.

    For some reason Vimeo videos don’t behave that well on WordPress so this one is a bit cut down but you get the idea.

    Write The Future from Nalden on Vimeo.

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  4. Testing photospin – ceiling removed

    May 21, 2010 by admin

    Uploaded by www.cellspin.net

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  5. Friday round up…

    May 21, 2010 by admin

    I’m setting a worrying precedent here. Two Friday round ups in as many weeks suggests it has become a weekly feature, despite having said last Friday that it wouldn’t be. I reckon next Friday will set another precedent in that it’ll be the first Friday since the Friday round ups began that there’s no Friday round up. Good, at least that’s clear.

    Dreams are weird aren’t they? They say the only thing more boring than listening to the dream someone had last night is listening to their problems. Probably true but you haven’t heard mine yet. I was supposed to be going to a fancy dress party where the theme was ‘heroes’. Somewhat tenuously now, but that seemed completely rational when I dreamt it, I decided that I just had to go as the Milky Bar Kid. Ever since I went on a stag do as Indiana Jones and was in awe at the guy who went as MBK, I’ve been searching for this opportunity. His trump card was his bag which was full of Milky Bars which he distributed to everyone as he was er, the Milky Bar Kid. Anyway the outfit would be simple, just had to go online and check out some pictures or even better just buy a ready to wear complete Milky Bar Kid outfit. Except Google returned zero results for my ‘Milky Bar Kid’ query. Well there were a couple of links to Russian sites and an embedded You Tube video of a lady sucking an ice lolly a bit suggestively. In my dream I sensed a conspiracy theory that all references to ‘Milky Bar Kid’ had been cleansed by some PR disaster company, the kind Kate Moss might use when she’s next caught on a camera phone hoofing coke. The thought that the Milky Bar Kid just didn’t exist and every one of those adverts (and indeed Milky Bars themselves) was purely a figment of my imagination played out in the dream as part of the back story was impossible to fathom…surely a dream can’t make you think you saw stuff years and years ago and believe it wasn’t in a dream and then bring the dream up to date with a scenario which used its trickery? Anyway, people it was a dream and I’m delighted to say that MKB does exist and you can buy fancy dress costumes here. When you start dreaming in new media terms, take a break from your browser.

    Emma Crosby, the newest member of the GMTV sofa team, asks too many rhetorical questions. I’m not a fan of the show but it’s on for five or ten minutes before I get in the shower. She’s pretty relaxed and quite slick but she follows everything with a question;

    “We all like a sunny day, don’t we?”

    Watch it and you’ll see, won’t you?

    Our landing now has no ceiling. We’re fully committed to the loft conversion and our builders cut the roof out on Wednesday. Thankfully we weren’t in as the mess was horrendous. If builders like anything more than the following phrase, I’ll be amazed;

    “It’s all lathen plaster up there”

    It’s normally followed by the sucking in of teeth which is usually associated with “it’ll cost ya” but they talk about laten plaster in such dramatic terms. Why? Because it’s a bit messy to pull down. Alright it’s very messy but if you’re a builder you’re going to get messy. So stop being dramatic and just pull the thing down and clear after. Simples.

    Next week we should get the stairs in and then we’ll have to sit tight and wait for the permitted development plans to be approved or, if not, think about plan B which is to make a smaller single room up there.

    The Fabregas saga continues with no official denial and no official offer from Barca. Arsenal.com stupidly decided to put a transfer rumours page on the official site this year which has backfired massively on this one. They’ve been busily putting all the stories up about who we’re going to buy yet they’ve failed to mention anything about Cesc. When the whole world is blogging about something you’ve specifically set up a page to talk about, and don’t mention it, your silence speaks volumes. I’m bored of this now and nothing’s actually happened.

    At long, long last we have some weather befitting the month. May is normally pretty good. My birthday is normally on or around the first bank holiday and it’s normally really good weather. This year, however I spent it in a pub as it poured down outside. Anyway this weekend is supposed to be the hottest of the year so far, and whilst that’s not much of an achievement it’ll be a welcome change. A load of us are going to Hyde park for a picnic and some frisbee time.

    Jake’s nursery teachers had to sit me down yesterday to talk about his newest game of throwing stuff at people. We’ve noticed it too. He particularly likes chucking stuff at the telly I spent four hundred quid on last month. He thinks the telling off bit is purely congratulatory encouragement which spurs him on further. He might also chuck in a right hook for good measure. I’m not that worried, he’s a very young boy and they tend to do hitting and chucking quite a lot. If he’s street fighting outside pubs in his teens it’ll be more the time to worry and at least we’ll be able to trace it back.

    Work’s been o.k this week, a couple of new accounts set up and a few prospects are starting to make buying noises rather than the low grumbling ‘no’ noises so hopefully next week will see a close or two.

    That’s it. Tata.

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  6. Fabregas: it’s when, not if…

    May 20, 2010 by admin

    Let’s just start with a few of the things we actually know:

    1. Cesc Fabregas is Spanish and grew up in a town not far from Barcelona
    2. He supported Barcelona as a child and was part of their youth academy
    3. He is contracted to Arsenal for 5 more years
    4. He will return to Spain one day and play for Barcelona
    5. Barcelona want him to play for them as soon as possible

    That’s it really. Everything else is, at this time, hearsay and speculation. The plethora of click whores submitting spurious articles to News Now in hope of additional ad revenue purely add fuel the current wildfire sweeping the internet right now.

    What reporters, bloggers and just about anyone else with a keyboard ‘understand’ is that Cesc had a meeting on Tuesday with Arsene and told him he wants out. And that he wants to go play football with his more decorated friends at the Camp Nou. Pals like Xavi and Iniesta and earth’s best player, Leo Messi.

    FAB4 is 23 and has played the best part of 280 games for Arsenal, starting way back in 2003 in the Carling Cup against Rotherham, a game I took Clare to. As understudy to Patrick Vieira he quickly developed into one of our best players and brings to the team something none of our other young players do. Only he, Robin Van Persie and certainly Sol seem to show the passion for going the extra mile, digging in when you back’s against the wall and every other footballing cliche.

    So, he’s important to us. And losing him would be bad thing. Right? Well, not necessarily. For all the frustration he causes me, Arsene Wenger has a great record of knowing when to move a player on. Think Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Freddie LLLLJUNGberg etc. Those guys gave us everything but ultimately didn’t amount to much after they left. O.K they were headed towards the end of their careers so think then, Nicolas Anelka, the sulky twat. He had a couple of good seasons and we made about 4 billion quid flogging him which started something of a European tour which saw him play for most clubs in most leagues. It’s only now he’s gone to the chavs that he’s seen any real success. With the exception of Ashley Cole, an utterly classless moron, no player I can think of actually furthered their careers having left us. They were either past it or, with supposedly their best years ahead, dazzled by the bright lights (and granted, more money) of other clubs. And yes, Flamini and Hleb, I’m very much talking about you.

    So, in short we got rid of ageing players who’d done us a great service and still made money on the original purchase price or got rid of disruptive players for loads of money.

    That’s the plus side. On the minus side, whilst those stars leaving hasn’t resulted in the cataclysmic decline of the club the English media predicted (and seemed to want), we’re definitely worse off footballistically as Arsene would probably put it. Yes, we’re richer and in the rudest financial health of any club in the EPL but we don’t win stuff any more. And that’s what it’s about isn’t it?

    I genuinely think AW has lost his way, his hand having been forced by the building of the new stadium. I think he’s done an unbelievable job financially and genuinely believe that we’d be head and shoulders above everyone else in the league if they’d only spent what we’ve spent but he can’t blame that for ever. It’s not like he was a big spender when we were at Highbury and nor did he need to be. He could buy youth then because we already had age and experience. You’ve only got to look at the effect Sol’s return has had to realise that your young players don’t need a winged heeled goal machine to look up to, much better they learn from someone who’s been there and got the t shirt. Remember these guys are in their early twenties and no matter how talented or rich they are, they’re still very impressionable. What, for example is Jack Wilshire going to learn from Abou Diaby, Eboue or Denilson? What he can learn from Sol is how to win a premier league medal without losing a game, how to win a double. Infact, how to win anything!

    The point of all this is that whilst I would much prefer Cesc to stay, I think by going he’ll be sending the clearest message to Arsene yet. Arsene can ignore the fans all he likes, after all we’re not successful football managers, but when his players and crucially his best player and captain votes with his feet, he’s going to have to have to a hard think about where he went wrong. For a long while I’ve thought Arsene had got the balance of managing the money side of things and spending wisely almost right. I never thought we needed to spend £25m on a player, we just need a few more £10-15m players who have been around a while, won the odd cup. I was prepared to give him one more season of his experiment. Afterall, he promised us a trophy this year. Now though, things have got to change. And I think Fabregas leaving will be the start of that change.

    If he wants to leave, he should go. You can’t have you captain playing for one club whilst his head and heart is at another. And if by going we get fifty million quid for a player who cost £500,000 267 games ago then great. But, AW you’ve got to spend it all. We desperately need a new proven top, top, top class goalie, so spend the money (probaly £20m)on Buffon. We need another defender in the mould of Thomas Vermaelen (and not in the mould of Sylvester) which ought to be around another £10m. We’ll then need to replace Cesc if that’s possible. But for the remaining £20m we can have David Silva, Mikel Arteta or Felipe Melo. The point being that if you strengthen the other, more in need of strengthening, parts of the team, you don’t need a like for like replacement. For all his amazingness Thierry Henry divided opinion; people said there was an over reliance on him, that when he didn’t score, we weren’t the same. So, let’s be a team which is made of up great footballers who play better together than a team of two or three star attractions and a load of trainees in waiting.

    Arsene has built three teams in his 14 years, the first two were wildly sucessful and the last one wasn’t / isn’t. It’s such a shame that whilst Fabregas has developed into a great player, he’s done it in a team which has never fulfilled its potential.

    As we know Cesc is leaving. If not this season then perhaps next, but it will happen and all I can say and hope for is that it is the start of a new era, a new experiment as it has to be more successful than the last one.

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  7. The iPad cometh…

    May 19, 2010 by admin

    First up, I’m not an Apple fan. Far from it. I am resolutely a PC.

    The main reason is that I’m sticking to what I know. Having worked in a PC environment for all my working life, I am familiar with all the shortcuts and nuances (as well as the frustrations) of Windows. And whilst it and PCs certainly have their faults, on the whole they suit me fine. I’ve also been lucky to be surrounded by far more technically able people than me and so problems have always been easily sorted and I’ve even learned to fix things myself.

    I also like that I can install third party stuff. I have a 20 minute rule. If I can’t make it work in 20 minutes, it’s not good enough for me. And whilst I know that I’ll never get close to using a PC to its full potential, the very fact that I could is what keeps me loyal. I really hate being dictated to and that’s kind of what Apple do and also why their products work so well and so consistently. Steve Jobs has made a fortune from Jane and John style computing. He basically makes the hardware and software and lets us use just the bits we need. He also makes his products look cool so that the masses wants the device first and what it can do second.

    In summary, I guess I just don’t want to be told what I can and can’t do. The fact that I do on a PC exactly what a better looking and possibly more reliable Mac would let me do is entirely irrelevant.

    So I don’t have an iPhone. On principle, I don’t have one. Again they made it sooo usuable and sooo sexy, the world and his dog just had to have one. Except me that is. I’ve been a fan of HTC windows phones ever since they started and am currently rocking the HTC HD2. Yes it crashes most days and yes not every app works perfectly but I genuinely believe it’s better than the iPhone.

    The very fact that I don’t own an iPhone is what is making me drool every time I think of Friday 28th May. That’s the day my iPad will arrive via courier. If you own an iPhone you ask yourself ‘why would I want an iPad, it’s just a bigger version of what I already have, but it doesn’t make calls. Or have a camera.’ As a non-iPhone owner I can’t ask myself that question, instead I can just focus on all the good stuff that it will do that my phone won’t. Like the app store, like the unbelievable touch interface, like iTunes and so on.

    So much has been made of iPad’s shortcomings and I’ll admit I sang those same tunes when it was first announced back in January. It won’t make phone calls for one and there’s no camera, or usb or multitasking and the memory’s shit. And it’s really expensive. But slowly, I started realising what Apple was doing. It was making a device that does all the things we want to do when we buy a computer but leaves out all the stuff a computer can do that we’ll never need. O.K, usb is still an omission but there are ways around this. So it wasn’t until I stopped thinking about its points of failure and started thinking about how I’ll use it, that I started wanting one more than ever.

    I honestly don’t think I’ve had a gadget craving this strong before. And that’s saying something. I do have a problem with this, I see something, I mull it over and then I have to have it. Maybe the fact that they announced it so long ago and then delayed and delayed launch and then teased me by letting the Americans have it first, hasn’t helped but still, I need this thing.

    It’s got to the point where I’d like a longer train commute just so I could use it more. I’ve short listed the apps I’m going to get. I’ve worked out what stuff I need to download to keep Jake amused on our next flight. The anticipation is so great, I can’t imagine how it’ll be anything other than a bit of a let down.

    Anyway, it arrives a week on Friday and I really can’t wait. I used to talk about the ultimate all in one gadget with an ex colleague and fellow gadget junkie and we always used to come back to screen size being the issue. No matter how good a device is and how much stuff it can do, the optimum screen size will always stop it fitting in your pocket. Now I’m over this and appreciate that I’ll need a bag for it, this could well be the holy grail I’ve been searching for.

    I’ll let you know how much of an anti climax it is in around 8 days, 17 hours and 40 minutes.

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  8. Insane hail stones

    May 19, 2010 by admin

    …title says it all really. Bare with it until around 1 minute 20 seconds

    For some reason the embed code didn’t work so you’ll have to click the link to see it. Kinda annoying…

    Click here to see it.

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  9. Friday round up

    May 14, 2010 by admin

    I’d like to think of this being a new regular feature, but it won’t be. As I pointed out on the first post this new blog, there are millions of blogs out there which started out with grand statements of intent only to peter out after their author’s vim ebbed away. By the law of sod, me stating that a round up would happen each Friday virtually guarantees that it wouldn’t.

    Anyway, there’s one this week. Who knows what’ll happen in the future?

    So, the good news then. I’m 13 stone 5lbs. For someone a quarter of an inch under 6 feet tall (damn those 6 millimetres) that’s still something of a fat bastard. In my eyes at least. Anyone will politely tell you that you’re not as over weight as you think you are but it’s how you feel in yourself that matters. A few years back I once saw 15 stones on the scales and had my bulk not steadied me so I could well have fallen off. Ten years ago, before I first moved out, I was regularly 13 stone 7lbs….then went to 15 and then settled at 14 stone 7lbs. My failed sandwich shop empire saw me on my feet for 10 hours a day and despite eating sarnies, virtually for a living, went down to 13 stone 3. Getting my shit together saw me riding a desk once more and my weight steadily increased to around 13 stone 10. I do a fair amount of exercise, footy once a week, the odd game of squash etc but I eat what I want and drink too much beer so the two cancel each other out. This year though, I’ve stepped up the exercise and 5 weeks staying with my parents saw me walking for a lot more trains than before and I’ve started playing squash with someone who is much better than me which is starting to shift the lard nicely. The goal is to see a weight starting with the number 12 before I go to Spain in the first week of July. That would be awesome and, I think, quite achievable.

    Next up, I’m on the Arseblog Arsecast today. Even if you hate Arsenal (and many, many do), Arseblog is a great read. It’s one of my morning rituals. Switch on, coffee, email, bank, Arseblog. It’s written by an Irish guy who doesn’t hold back and in times of such crippling PC, it’s refreshing to hear a middle age man rant and swear so. Anyway, if you can bothered you’ll hear my comments on his phone in at 22mins 50 sec on this link.

    The loft conversion is happening, although I find it much less exciting than the kitchen renovation. I suppose this is because there’s much less mess and disruption and therefore less necessity. Also, there will be a point in a couple of weeks when my guys have to down tools and wait for permitted development permission to come through before we decide whether to build a big ol’ ugly box dormer and put a bathroom up there or just keep it inside the existing roof line. Anyway it’s happening and that’s good.

    Another huge positive is that we landed the contract to provide hosting for the company who bought out our new media business last December. Part of the contract was that they would ‘endeavour’ to place their hosting with us. In my efforts to secure the deal I didn’t insist that the hosting would be a pre-requesite and as such they could have thrown us a custard pie at any stage. That they didn’t and have come good is credit to them and also to us I guess. It’s worth a fair amount of money each month and puts us where we want to be.

    Something this week which sucked was the case of Paul Chambers. A very regular guy who in January tweeted an entirely off hand remark out of frustration that the airport he’d be using to go meet a girl, was closed due to snow. This is what he wrote:

    “Robin Hood airport is closed. … You’ve got a week and a bit to get your **** together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

    The judge ruled that this was menacing, that he intended for the wider public to see it and that he was using an electronic communications network to deliver the message and as such convicted him. I won’t cover the legal but Jack of Kent has done a great job. All I know is that Paul now has a criminal record and a £1,000 fine. What utter bullshit. As a friend of mine said, what if Paul had been called Mohammed and just as innocent? Would the authorities have thought twice to convict someone whose ethnicity / religious beliefs could by prejudice or ignorance link him with terrorism? Would they have thought that by doing this they may cause unrest? Probably. But make an example of a young white guy in order to censor the internet and you’re safe. The saddest thing is that Paul was half way through his accountancy exams and now he won’t be able to finish them. His professional life is effectively fucked. Time for some common sense.

    Stephen Fry, a prolific user of Twitter instantly offered to pay his fine and it just shows how these things gather momentum. The online community, infact anyone who blogs, tweets, facebooks etc is potentially in line for the same should a random thought or rant happen to be found and some over sensitive soul decides they are offended. What is offensive IMHO is that old school laws are being applied to new technology. By all means police the interweb but use your noodle. Yes find the peados and cut off their winkies, certainly monitor potential terrorists but FFS take a view on a guy who was just pissed off he might miss a bunk up with a new bird in Ireland!

    Anyway, that’s it for now. More later.

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  10. Genius use of AdWords

    May 13, 2010 by admin

    I love a story like this. Someone using something we all know about in a new and fresh way. Something so simple it was staring us all in the face, but this guy got there first.

    I’ve used AdWords on a fair number of our websites and have advised and managed clients doing the same and so I guess we all think it’s just corporations who use it – afterall it can be very expensive. But actually it’s only expensive when you’re competing for popular, and therefore potentially lucrative keywords. If no one else wants your key word you’ll pick up clicks for next to nothing.

    So, this new media guy used Google AdWords to get himself a plum job at a top NYC agency.

    How? Well, he used the age old trick of flattery to get him where he wanted. He bid on the names of top agency execs and placed ads for them to see when they got around to Googling themselves. We’ve all done it and now we’ve all got a Facebook account, we’ll nearly all find ourselves pretty quick unless we’re like John Smith or something as popular.

    However, we find ourselves in the organic, free search results. Imagine Ian Reichenthal’s surprise to see ‘hey, Ian Reichenthal’ as the top sponsored link with a message just for him. How could he not click?!

    Info I’ve found didn’t say how long the ad was there waiting to be found, but since the only key word was the guy’s name it wouldn’t have come up too often and therefore not cost too much – that’s the beauty of pay per click. In total Alec spent $6 and got himself a top job.

    Well worth the money if you ask me.

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