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Preview: Fabulous Photo Gifts - Latest Photo Gift news, features and gossip

Purple 13



Fine Chocolate offers, tutorials for Blogger, Twitter and Tumblr etc. Published social networking 'how to' articles and News of licenced photography sales by Mandy Collins from the Purple 13 studio.



Updated: 2018-03-06T03:19:13.349+00:00

 



White chocolate pencils - perfect alternative to white chocolate cigarellos

2013-04-27T14:39:16.681+00:00

White chocolate cigarellos - why chocolate pencils make a great alternative.

You know what it's like, someone asks you to make them a wedding cake or similar, and they insist on using white chocolate cigarellos for decoration. The problem is every chocolate retailer is out of stock including online chocolate retailers.



Luckily, The Chocolate Trading Co - premium quality online chocolate & chocolate decoration retailer - have just introduced a range of chocolate pencils.

Made from high quality Belgian chocolate, their new chocolate pencil range is currently available in white, milk, dark, marbled, white and dark chocolate striped chocolates.

And as if that wasn't tempting enough, they sell them at wholesale prices direct to the public and trade alike.

Each chocolate pencil measures 200mm in length and features a tight curled chocolate spiralling towards a pencil like end.

Twice the length of most chocolate cigarellos, the chocolate pencils can be easily trimmed or cut to length using a hot knife.

So don't despair - if you're unable to wait for white chocolate cigarellos stock to arrive, then do give careful consideration to the alternatives, like chocolate pencils.


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Untitled

2012-03-22T18:07:32.197+00:00

See the full gallery on Posterous Whether your school is holding an Easter egg hunt for the pupils, or your local Pre-School / Nursery or Infant class is making Easter birds nests or other Easter themed crafts, then I've had a tasty idea.Mini chocolate eggs, which are available in mixed foil colours and bulk bags.The Chocolate Trading Company has a mouth-watering selection of mini chocolate eggs, just right for your Easter egg hunt or other Easter themed event.And if you're holding an Easter competition, then their gift wrapped bags of Easter novelties - Bunnies & Chicks - Chocolate Bunny lollys or their selection of premium dark and milk chocolate Easter eggs all make superb, fun gift present ideas for children of all ages.Having previously been a helper at a local village Pre-School, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to source the right items at the right price without having to commit yourself to 1000's of eggs in one order. Once again, the Chocolate Trading Company have made it extremely easy to order minimal quantities of their mini-eggs and other novelties. You can even order some items without gift packaging - why pay for what you don't need?And with their bags of mixed colour foil covered eggs, it's easy to put together a great, colourful collection of delicious Easter eggs, without the hassle of having to order large quantities of each colour, to mix yourself.Of course, if you are looking for larger quantities, then you'll find you can order single foil colours in bags of 100 and 635 eggs!So take my advice and take the hassle out of sourcing Easter eggs and other chocolate novelties for your Easter themed School or social event and visit the Chocolate Trading Company's website for loads of Easter egg and other scrumptious gift ideas.Note: All links are non-affiliate - I just hope you find them useful. [...]






This whole Northern Lights thing...

2012-01-24T17:47:33.105+00:00

Hi

Someone recently commented that I hadn't posted anything for a few weeks - thankfully, nothing broken (ha-ha) but seriously, life is ticking along and it's nearly February.

Or put another way, this time last month was Christmas Eve!

Anyway, this whole 'Northern Lights' thing - you know, them being visible from the UK rather than just the outer rims of the Arctic.

Is it only me that thinks it all sounds a bit like 'the day of the triffids'?

Avert your eyes now!

And this blast of solar radiation heading our way.... Isn't that what happened to the Fantastic Four?

I don't wanna be a rock.

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A locked rear door will fail your car's MOT

2012-01-12T17:30:20.619+00:00

I thought it was worth sharing that if, like me, you had a broken door lock (in this case a Skoda Octavia with a locked rear passenger door), then make sure it works before taking your car for an MOT as a 'permanently' locked shut door will fail the MOT - even if it's a back door.

The problem was that the door had locked shut on its deadlock some months ago, so I couldn't get to the inside door panel screws to remove it and access the locking mechanism.

Luckily, my friends at Smalley Service Station came to the rescue - managed to unlock the door and secure a repair.

Now that it opens (and locks before you get any ideas), I can make a full repair of the central locking at my leisure.

Just the small matter of the £150 for a new solenoid.....

Well, I never used that door anyway.

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Headlamp bulb replacement on an 02 Ford Galaxy 2.3 Zetec.

2011-12-16T12:50:24.500+00:00

I had to replace a dipped beam headlamp bulb on Mandy's Ford Galaxy (2.3 Zetec on 02 plate) last weekend for her.

Silly me, without removing the old one first, I headed for the local auto spares shop in Buxton. When I got there, I was informed by the very helpful man behind the counter, that they had 2 bulbs listed.

One was £7 odd whilst the other, a gas discharge type was around £60.

I chose the cheaper version (I'm a cheapskate and prayed it was the cheaper option fitted, plus that was the only one they had in stock!). They don't carry the more expensive gas discharge ones since most customers tended to find them cheaper on ebay, the nice man informed me.

So to fitting it. It was the Driver's side bulb that had gone. First thing I noticed when I lifted the bonnet was that there was no obvious 'rear of headlamp cluster' assembly - all was covered by a multitude of plastic panels. Looked like it was going to be a major job.

Fear not. A 'hidden' panel - hidden because a thin film of engine dirt had obscured the imprint within the plastic - slides upwards and removes to give you access to the rear of the headlamp cluster. A tight metal catch undoes from the top, to allow the protective cap to be removed, giving access to the rear of the bulbs. The plastic cover really needs to be removed completely and it's a bit tight for space so deep breath and patience - especially if you're not good at solving those 'which piece goes where' type of puzzles.

That plastic cap locates on two 'spikes' within the headlamp surround at the bottom - you'll need to check when re-fitting that it's located in these properly, otherwise the spring clip at the top won't hold and you'll loose the cover whilst driving.

Remove the wiring connector from the back of the bulb you're replacing and then release the spring clip holding the bulb in place. It pushes in and either up or down to un-locate from it's little metal retaining hook.

Fitting the new bulb is a reverse of the above. Make sure you get the initial bulb retainer clip secure - it's one of those jobs for small hands (which i don't have) and most of it will be done by feel as you can't really see anything - not on a grey, dull November day.

Apparently, the near-side bulb is trickier because of the proximity of the battery cover. Let's just hope that one lasts a bit longer then shall we?

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Why I queued for the iPhone 4 (not iPhone4S)

2011-10-26T11:22:10.586+00:00

  It was a bright morning last June - the new iPhone 4 had launched a few days earlier and getting a lift in with my boss - himself an apple 'devotee', we were discussing when each of us was going to get the new iPhone.   As we had a habit of going in particularly early, we agreed we'd round up our old iPhone3 (in his case 3gs) boxes and phones in case the opportunity presented itself and the O2 shops in Derby got some more stock in.   So 7.30am, driving through Derby, he suddenly swung the wheel round and headed for the town centre car park.   When we got to the O2 store, a small queue of around 50 people was already there. We took one look and decided to leave it until later.   There was a certain fever - checking website updates for more stock arriving etc - receiving text alerts and generally watching the local chatter on twitter for a whiff of any stock suddenly being available.   One good thing about being 'in on it' with the boss is that when he announced later that morning that he was fed up with waiting and was going to try the shop again, I got invited along.   So we queued - around 20 of us (much to the amusement of passing shoppers) and then the doors re-opened and an O2 staff member came out to announce they'd only got limited amounts (around 25 phones) and he would presently come out with numbered cards to save anyone wasting a wait.   So we queued, we chatted with other Apple devotees, a rumour started that the other O2 shop had stock and had opened doors - my boss went to check it out whilst I kept our queue places (and those 'golden tickets' should they be allocated).   He eventually came back to report if the other shop had opened, it had quickly shut again. We waited.   Some 2 hours later, the doors opened and they started taking in people from the front of the queue - two at a time. Since it took around 20 mins to process two customers, we realised we weren't going to be going anywhere fast - but at least we had our numbered slips so we were assured to get a new phone that day.   Of course, eventually it was our turn to be ushered into the 'hallowed turf', where we were given a demo of the phones new features…(grrrr just give me the phone), and then it was 'flash your cash' and sign your life away (well to O2 anyway).   We left, clutching out little O2 string handled, iPhone 4 paper bags, and wearing smiles as big as the Rock of Gibraltar.   Back to work 3 hours later, and of course the first thing we did was set up our new shiny iPhones for use.   It's amusing to read todays (Friday 14th Oct) accounts of people who also queued for the latest phone from Apple - the iPhone 4s - and also the 'rants' of people who, much like those shoppers we encountered, are amused that anyone would queue for a mere phone.   Having been there and done it (so to speak), I can say it was an experience for sure. An almost war like mentality of gentlemanly conduct as we quietly queued that morning, no pushing in, no impatience, just good humour and bon ami abound.   And why not queue for a particular phone / gadget? Plenty of people - far greater numbers in fact - queue for music concert tickets every day or the premiere of new films. Not to mention the numbers that travel around the UK (or the globe) for sporting events. Are they all nerdy or odd? I think not.   So why aren't i queueing this time? Well, it was tempting - very tempting - but with my phone contract due renewal in a months time (earliest upgrade point), I'm going to wait until then, providing all those disgruntled blackberry users haven't snaffled up all the available stocks of iPhone  4s. i think even I can wait a month and there are other benefits in letting others destruct test a new model before you purchase - plenty of time to iron out any kinks etc.   N[...]



Replacing the indicator relay on a Skoda Octavia 1.9TDI Elegance (on a '53 plate).

2011-10-21T08:12:13.014+00:00

Replacing the indicator relay on a Skoda Octavia 1.9TDI Elegance (on a '53 plate).Tools required: Small flat bladed screwdriverTime required: 5 minutesParts required: Replacement flasher relay unit / hazard warning switch (it's all one unit!)When the indicators on my Skoda Octavia (1.9 TDI '53 plate) started beating erratically - sometimes a double click, sometimes (and more often then not) a single burst before falling silent, I realised it my be time to replace the flasher / indicator relay.Usually, you'd expect to find the relay within one of the fuse boxes along with the headlamp relays etc, but on the Skoda (and several VW models), the relay for the indicators is actually 'behind' the hazard warning switch in the centre of the dash.When I say behind the hazard warning switch - what I mean is it's actually part of the switch - all one assembly, so you have, to in fact, replace the whole hazard warning switch! Ouch!Actually, the cost from my local Skoda dealer in Spondon, Derbyshire - Clock Garage - click here (non-affiliate link) - was £32.00 inc vat. I did try a few auto spares type shops but they don't stock the actual manufacturer switch. If you know different, leave a comment below.So to actually fit the new indicator/flasher relay / switch, you need a fairly small flat blade screwdriver.Sitting in the car's front passenger seat, gently prise the small rectangular 'Octavia' branded plastic surround away from the hazard warning switch. Start in the bottom LH corner and gently pop out the four locating lugs - two on the LH side and two on the RH side (quite near the corners).With the switch fascia removed, you can again, gently prise out the exposed switch block. Pull the switch right out (there's enough wiring loom to do this) and pull off the connecting wire block at the rear of the switch.The switch will only fit one way so don't worry too much about remembering the orientation of the socket to the switch back. Do make sure the loom with the connector can't disappear back down the exposed switch hole in the dashboard!Connect  the new switch and re-fit the switch to the dashboard. Make sure the switch locates snuggly all around the surround - it's easy because of the angle of the dash to think you've pushed it all the way home when in fact the top of the switch isn't quite flush. Use the flat end of the screwdriver to gently push the corners of the switch block back. It's a bit tight for fingers.You might want to try the switch works so put the keys in the ignition and try both directions and hazard functions. You should get a satisfying regular 'heart beat' from the unit and the indicator lights should work accordingly.If all's good, then re-fit the 'Octavia' fascia plate by pushing all four corners back into place.That's it. Job done.A reminder that your car will fail its MOT if the indicators / hazard warning lights are not functioning correctly.Image gallery:1) the connector from the back of the hazard switch showing unique location points.2) The replacement indicator relay including hazard warning switch head.3) The 'Octavia' fascia plate (removed) showing the location of it's locating lugs. [...]



Why brands don't fare better on Twitter - could it be fear?

2011-10-04T16:16:14.191+00:00

Inspired by a post by Chris Brogan, which I actually picked up on via Google+, who looked at a few corporate twitter accounts and basically ripped the hell out of them for doing it so badly (building a brand on twitter), it occurred to me that as a company / small business / sole-trader tweeting from a 'business' account, things can soon go horribly wrong. Especially when the technology is 'new' to you.   If it's all about getting the mix right, then you're not alone as Chris illustrates.   Have you / are you suffering from any of the following misconceptions / fears or forebodings when using Twitter?   If you tweet pure links to various pages / products on your website, that's good isn't it because you're pointing your followers to particular instances of your companies brilliance. If they're not interested, surely they won't bother clicking?   if you're too chatty, then you might come across as someone unreliable to do business with.   if you reply to everyone, then you're either desperate for friends or you have too much time on your hands - e.g lack of business gives another reason not to use you from a follower / prospective customers point of view.   Profanity, sexist/racist/religious/political humour or general opinion tweets should be avoided because you'll offend a follower / potential customer.   You have to be careful who you follow, lest you follow a competitor and your followers buy from them instead.   You have to constantly monitor for your name being mentioned, so you can see when someone's moaning about  you or your product. Not that you can do anything about it of course.   If your avatar is a product, then you have to constantly change your avatar because otherwise followers will associate you with just one product.   Nobody's interested in where you went for a meal or what you watched on telly last night and as you're always working, nothing exciting worth tweeting ever happens to you.   After all the work and hours you put into your twitter account - carefully considered avatar, custom background, building a following, you'll never get any business from it anyway so why bother customising?   All followers must be customers. If not then why did they follow you in the first place?   Albeit irrational, which of the above are you most afraid of?   It's normal to experience a little trepidation when embarking on a new 'project', and nobody (not even Chris Brogan et al) expects you to get it right straightaway. Somethings like Twitter take a little while to get into the groove with.   Frequency, style and content will all come with time. I've written several 'guides to using twitter' myself, but there's plenty of information and guidance (like Chris's post). Go find!   I've built up some fantastic contacts and although we've never met, some good friends as well. As for customers, well one day that may come to. The fact that you give your potential customers a preferred way (for them) to engage you / your brand is surely what it's all about? [...]



Smeg Dishwasher on / off button replacement - a how-to guide

2011-09-19T13:24:30.444+00:00

Total loss of power on Smeg Dishwasher - Model Number: DF 612 SE - during wash cycle.   Hardly funny - a Smeg dishwasher fully loaded, stopping in the middle of a washing cycle due to some form of total electrical failure.   First step was to remove all the dirty pots and wash them by hand - didn't like to risk that there was still powerful cleaning agents that hadn't been rinsed off etc. This just left a pool of very murky water in the bottom of the dishwasher.   Next I tried replacing the fuse on the mains plug (where the dishwasher plugs into the 'mains' wall socket) but this had no effect.   The control panel on the front of the dishwasher was completely dead - no lights, no indicators and repeated pushing of the On/Off button wasn't going to solve anything.   So I turned to the Internet and typed in my problem. What I got back was lots of forums and suggestions on possible causes and one or two "we'll answer any question - our experts are online and waiting to answer your question now" type websites that after a few basic question screens then want to charge you if you go further.   However, the 'free advice' from others all seemed to point to the power (on / off button) on the dishwasher and the fact that the insulation on the wires on the back of the switch can become worn, allowing a shorting of the electrics to occur.   WARNING - BEFORE PROCEEDING ANY FURTHER, YOU MUST ISOLATE THE DISHWASHER BY UNPLUGGING IT FROM THE MAINS SUPPLY.   This seemed like a good one to rule out - gaining entry to inspect (and remove) the power button involved opening the dishwasher door and unscrewing the screws around the top of the door frame.   You'll find the top control panel portion of the dishwasher door will then lift away towards you.   There's a white plastic cover, covering the switch and electronics on the LH side of the door panel - you'll see it just slots into place. Simply lift it out (no clips to undo) and put to one side.   See the full gallery on Posterous   You'll now see the mains switch has 4 separate wire terminals going to the back of it.   Draw yourself a little diagram of which wire goes where and remove them by pulling the connector (not the wire) off the back of the switch.   To remove the switch itself, I found it best to use the thin blade of a small electronics screwdriver. Looking at the new switch for a minute, you'll notice the little 'barbed' clip that holds the switch into the plastic mounting on the door panel.   I carefully slotted the screwdriver down the gap between the switch and the door mount and gently prised upwards. This removed the switch.   Re-attach the wire connectors to the new switch, and re-attach to the door mount. Check the on/off button pushes and clicks.   Carefully re-feed the wiring loom back into the door as you re-locate the door panel - don't forget to fit that plastic cover first!   Then re-attach the door panel securely, plug the dishwasher in at the mains and hey-presto - it should work.   Well that's the theory.   Unfortunately, it didn't work on this occasion so i quickly went to the Internet for an answer.   The best I could find out is, having ruled out the power switch, that it is either the printed circuit board (PCB) that controls the power distribution and is actually located underneath that white plastic cover we removed to access the power switch.   You can visually check the pcb for burn marks - a visual clue it's blown although there's no guarantee.   The other cause could be the pump itself.   Either way, I deemed it un-economical to continue the repair. ESpares prices for a new power pcb (there's a second pcb controls the functions) were aroun[...]



Uh-Oh! Our Smeg Dishwasher's control panel just went power-less

2011-09-08T20:46:59.321+00:00

I've already affected a repair to the Smeg dishwasher when it's door catch broke in January.

Now it's control panel has gone dark - forums point to the problem being with the dishwashers power switch.

Apparently, all that heat can break up the insulation around the back of the switch contacts, causing them to short.

A new switch is on order so I'll attempt the repair this weekend and I'll blog a full how-to / how I got on later next week.

Wish me luck and if you're Smeg dishwasher's suffered a similar fate, then I may have some useful news for you.

Ta.

Jonathan.

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On the London Eye

2011-08-11T16:44:19.363+00:00

After frantically watching the news for Riot updates, my parents finally decided to take their 4 grandchildren (aged 15 to 10) to London today.

The trip, to coincide with my two visiting from Derbyshire for the week had been planned for some time - tickets booked and paid for etc.

So you can imagine the hand-wringing and shall we - shan't we go conversations there's been this week.

Actually, the London Eye were extremely helpful and said that they'd happily re-schedule the ride if my Mum couldn't travel that day.

Anyway, today (Thursday) dawned trouble free so they all set off.

I got a text from my daughter "we're just coming down now" from atop the London Eye.

I can only imagine the excitement.

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Plastic bag usage up by 5% - I have a theory

2011-08-05T09:29:34.277+00:00

Plastic bag usage up by 5% - I have a theory.

Yes shoppers, shop owners and all the politicians in between were equally shocked to hear the plastic bag usage had grown by 5% recently.

This is despite 'bags for life' being thrust into our faces at every cash till opportunity and the abundance of "bad for the environment' messages in the media.

However, I have a theory.

Not in the same league as 'magic bullets' and 'grassy knoll's' admittedly but a theory all the same.

Fuel for our cars has risen to such levels that the cash-strapped British consumer is having to seriously weigh up the worth of each journey before they make it.

So instead of driving around the corner to the local supermarket for a full weeks shopping (which is expensive enough these days), I believe people are shopping often and little by foot instead. (I tried it at the weekend - it was very liberating).

The downside is that you need to spread the load when walking so you'll probably spread your shopping out over more bags than you would if you were driving. Also, we all know that you do seem to buy more stuff if you shop every day, hence we're physically requiring more bags - especially if we have to buy the same thing twice in a week (thinking bread and milk here).

If this theory holds water (and I'm pretty confident), then the use of plastic carrier bags could even be a good indicator of the UK's economy?

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More Nissan bashing from Top Gear - this time it's the Nissan Leaf electric car.

2011-08-04T08:21:24.229+00:00

More Nissan bashing from Top Gear - this time it's the Nissan Leaf electric car.

Poor old Nissan, they can't seem to do a lot right in Top Gear's eyes can they?

First was the £6995 car that had optional electric windows… I remember when the Austin Ambassador's (a large family car of the early '80's) big selling point was front electric windows and (hand onto you hats) power steering! And all for the incredible price of £5,695 (if memory serves).

Then the other evening, they took the new Nissan Leaf - Nissans first all electric car - out for a spin with another electric car from Peugeot.

They ran out of juice - spent the day in Lincoln brass rubbing and begged borrowed or tried to steal from cafe's, boat moorings before ending up at Lincoln University.

I know, I know it's all in the name of entertainment but the trouble is many take Top Gear's word as gospel. Also, any owner of an electric vehicle will a) not be contemplating such long journeys and b) will be organised enough to have recharging points / stops worked out well in advance and plan the journey accordingly.

The 100 mile range would certainly do my weeks commuting on a single charge. £8 of electric for a weeks commuting - cheaper than the bus.

Of course, the cost of these electric vehicles is sell high - £25,000 after the covernments £5k electric vehicle subsidy.

The studio post-drive debate (banter) did draw some interesting ideas - James May wanted to turn the entire road network into a kind of dodgem ride with a wire mesh network for vehicles to draw power from.

In a crazy world, I think a better idea would be a remote spike you can lower down from the floor of the car, which locates in a slot on the main roads / motorways and a spring / chain running continuously in a channel in the road pulls you along.

When you reach the exit you require, you just pull up the spike and drive manually.

This sort of system would mean less accidents and less congestion hold ups and vehicles would always be evenly spaced and all doing the same speed.

What do you think?

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Musical tribute to the Shuttle Atlantis - the end of an era

2011-07-21T06:56:02.331+00:00

My own little musical tribute to the entire Shuttle Program as we await the safe return of the final Space Shuttle mission - ST135 this morning.

You've enthralled us guys!

src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/cWnmCu3U09w" allowfullscreen frameborder="0" height="417" width="500">

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Squirm TV

2011-07-06T16:03:19.833+00:00

Is it just me or do we live in an age where the only 'good' television is that in which we get to see someone publicly break down in front of millions of viewers?

Nothing gets me reaching for the off button more than the uncomfortable feelings I get when watching such baiting by an interviewer.

Take the other morning on BBC Breakfast News. The pair of presenters were interviewing a policeman who'd been blinded by an attacker, whilst on duty.

It was the anniversary of the attack which had seen the perpetrator already shoot someone else ( I don't remember the specifics) but the PC had been sitting in his car when he was shot.

Now he runs marathons to raise money for the Blue Lamp charity which offers support for emergency services personnel injured in the course of their duties.

But the lady presenter, in particular, kept trying to bring the poor chap back to the events of the day… How had he felt afterwards? etc and I guess really wanted him break into tears or an angry outburst at the perpetrator of the horrible crime.

He didn't. He was unflappable and very dignified (and at times looked slightly bemused in an "I already answered that question" sort of way).

Full marks to him.

Zero marks to the BBC.

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Looking for new people to follow on Twitter?

2011-06-24T15:36:26.273+00:00

What do you look for when hunting for new people to follow on Twitter?   Sparkling repartee, pearls of SEO wisdom, exclusive offers and discounts, celebrity gossip, a fresh perspective on world news or someone who shares your interests (professionally or personally)?   Are their tweets all self-promoting, all replies to other users, singular nonsense, social comment/newsy or just a bunch of links. A little of everything is about right - isn't it?   Does it bother you if they don't have an Avatar (the little square photo of themselves, product, logo or something more obscure)?   Does it bother you if they don't have a personal bio?   Perhaps you only consider following people who have neither or who only have both?   And what about their page background. Does a personalised background carry any weight?   Have you even followed their link to their profile to follow them or did you use a Twitter client and follow them directly?   And once you'd gone to the trouble of following someone, did you drop them a line to say why you were following them?   Did they follow you back? Are you bothered if they did (or did not)?   If they did follow you back, did you tweet a thank you to them? It's only polite you know.   Finally, have you honoured them with a #ff (follow friday). Who knows, they may return the favour, promoting you to their followers - the best #ff are a single user with a line on what makes that person special or worth following.   Twitter - makes you think doesn't it?   Jonathan.   p.s Where do you go / what do you use in the hunt for new users to follow?   Jonathan's Twitter profile can be found at http://twitter.com/fabphotogifts   Jonathan also tweets for @priceengines, @solarpanelqtr and @home_improver [...]



Petrol Head

2011-06-22T11:18:39.651+00:00

Regular readers here will know I became the proud owner of a Skoda Octavia 1.9tdi Elegance in February of this year after my old 2.0 petrol Mazda 626 was cruelly written off during Christmas.   After a month of commuting from Buxton to Derby on the Trent Barton Trans Peak service - a 6.40am start and getting back at 7.30pm, you can imagine the journey was wearing a little thin.   Anyway, after researching and plotting, the Skoda Octavia TDi was the obvious replacement - doing over 500 miles a week, I needed something a little more frugal.   At the suggestion of my father-in-law who's owned 3 Skoda's, I've been adding Miller's diesel fuel additive on every fill up.   Anyway, keen to see what sort of mpg I was getting, I started a log from the first fill-up. (see below).   monday (am) 14th feb - 47 ltr > 10.3 gal = 50.48 mpg - 520miles - £129.9 per ltr tuesday (am) 22nd feb - 43.66 ltr > 9.61 gal = 51.71 mpg - 497 miles  - £129.9 per ltr   Always keen to be as frugal as possible, especially with fuel prices and diesel in particular rising to over £140 pence a litre, I thought I'd try a few weeks without the climate control on (which auto engages air-con) and see if it does really make a difference.   I must stress I've always driven steadily - rarely put my 'foot down' and although not driving at 'towing a caravan' speed, rarely get above 65.   Here's the results without the air-con on anyway:   Saturday (pm) 30th Apr - 46.26 ltr > 10.18 gallons = 57.07 mpg - 581 miles - £133.9 per ltr (morrisons voucher) - no air-con! Wednesday (am) 11th May - 42 ltr > 9.25 gallons = 57.83 mpg - 535 miles - £138.9 per ltr (tesco) - no air-con!   So, in conclusion, a massive average of 5+ mpg more, over the course of a tank - that's nearly 50 miles (or a single one-way commute for me) which means eventually I'll get a 'free' journey - I'll let you do the maths.   p.s long periods of running without using the air-con in a car isn't recommended so I've taken to making one journey a week at least with the air-con on, just to make sure the system stays primed. [...]



a little Friday groovin' with Anita Ward - Ring My Bell

2011-06-17T15:31:02.857+00:00

Yes, from 1979 folks....

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Saturday night entertainment

2011-06-11T17:10:03.046+00:00

Has it really come to this? Watching Britain's Got Talent final again... (wasn't the reverse order of who'd won a cruel way to deliver the results???)
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B Bumble & The Stingers - Nut Rocker

2011-05-13T20:20:35.131+00:00

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Positively my favourite boogie-woogie piano tune. If you don't recognise the band, you'll recognise the tune.

(for years I was convinced it was someone like Jerry Lee Lewis).

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Twitter 101 - as I see it

2011-05-11T16:21:47.425+00:00

  Twitter 101 - My Twitter tips (speaking from personal experience).   Everyone's on about Twitter. Everywhere you turn, every TV or radio you turn on, celebrities, radio DJ's and the rest of us mere mortals are expressing ourselves (in a 140 characters or less) on one of THE social media platforms.   It's when you start seeing businesses realising the business potential of twitter - the ability to update their 'followers' quickly and easily or build brand awareness, even promote themselves with 'twitter only' offers, that you begin to say "I think I need to be on Twitter too".   But if you're new to it all then where do you begin? There's been dozens, nay hundreds (and probably thousands) of 'How to use Twitter' articles written. Who do you believe?   I'm going to give you my take on where to start and the reasons why I believe my checklist works.   1) Create a Twitter account.   Time to take that first bold step but wait, haven't you forgotten something?   You need to have a plan first. You need to have worked out if your going to 'Tweet' (an individual message on Twitter) as yourself, as your company or as a fictitious 3rd person, who amongst what they had for breakfast, will Tweet the odd line about your company or it's products.   Personally, honesty works best for me. If you're a business and tweeting to attract new business (whilst keeping in touch with your existing customers), then don't try to hide it. The truth will out eventually and regulars will soon see a pattern forming which will either have them un-following you in droves (yes it is possible to loose potential customers on twitter) or simply ignoring your tweets altogether.   This is even worse because you want your tweets read, you want your followers to 're-tweet' them (re-publish them to their own followers) and expand your following and potential for revenue.   Of course, a clever marketing campaign might involve 'characters' who tweet as 'themselves'. Think Tetley tea folk with their own twitter accounts etc.   So take your time, work through a few scenarios and decide your course.   I say this because when you come to create your Twitter account, you'll have to choose a username which will become your 'handle' (or what you're referred to) on twitter. So you may want to choose your company name, or the product you sell or something else.   We're not talking seo here - we're talking a name that will help potential followers find you quickly (and more importantly remember you).   So go, you're now ready to create that account.   2) Dressing your Twitter profile. Firstly, welcome to Twitter.   Secondly, it's time to dress your profile page so that you can make the right impression from the very beginning. Before you start following anybody.   Choose your avatar (the little square logo/picture that will accompany your tweets) carefully. People shots work very well (the old 'that's who I'm dealing with' thing) or how about your company logo (if it's not too cluttered and fussy), or your actual product?   Secondly, fill in your 'Bio' section. You don't get many characters so have a few drafts ready and be prepared to edit heavily to get the message right. Even purely online businesses find it useful to add a location. Twitter can be about making connections with people directly around you and isn't strictly reserved for events and business functions. &n[...]



May the Fourth be with You

2011-05-04T14:49:38.697+00:00

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In tribute to May the 4th (not George Lucas's birthday as some may claim), check out these brilliant photographs themed around Star Wars Lego (click here)

Darth Vader (to Obi-Wan) " Your toast is ready "

Obi-Wan " A little on the dark side isn't it? "

photo credit: Avanaut.

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The simple pleasures in life...

2011-04-14T16:25:41.937+00:00

Pretty much every evening (recently) when I've been driving home from work along the Ashbourne to Buxton A515 road, just as I've come out of Ashbourne, there's been a black baby rabbit sat in the verge side.

Yesterday, my furry companion was joined by a second black baby bunny.

Now I find myself hoping they'll be there when I drive by next time.

Really breaks the journey up.

What's your simple pleasure?

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How not to make a 'How to' video for replacing a Smeg dishwasher handle.

2011-04-06T11:33:49.706+00:00

A few months ago, I blogged how I'd had to replace the inner handle and lock /n catch mechanism on our Smeg Dishwasher, and the steps I'd taken, including identifying the correct replacement parts from those helpful chappy's at ESpares (read the full blog post here).   At the time, I lamented the fact that despite viewing ESpares well produced video how-to, I couldn't get my door to close and it was obvious that the plastic inner handle I'd replaced wasn't seated correctly.   Now if you've ever owned or used a Haynes Manual for work on your car, you'll know that very often, the picture you really need is the one that's never there, and the most simple of steps doesn't get omitted but rather glossed over like it's natural that it should just fit etc.   So was the case with my Dishwasher handle replacement.   Now you could get to thinking that you're the only one dumb enough to let this happen to - I'm not un-intelligent (at least not in my eyes and those of closest family - ha ha), but seemingly 'simple tasks' can take on all the complexity of building your own nuclear reactor.   However, a comment left by a fellow struggler reveals that I'm not alone in the universe (and therefore neither are you) when it comes to struggling with in-animate objects.   Here's what he had to say:   "I had the right part and found the eSpares video, but couldn't get it to fit until I read this.  Well done for posting it, and thank goodness for the Tinterwebthingy."    Thank you Nick for that ringing endorsement and confirmation that I wasn't going stark raving mad.   So to anyone producing a 'how-to' video or series of photographs, a tip. You've got to treat us all like idiots, don't gloss over the seemingly obvious and make sure you get lots of close-ups from different angles. In short - spell it out.   I must add that ESpares were very good and actually used my original blog post where I detailed how i'd repaired my Smeg dishwasher handle and lock, using spares I'd identified and purchased from them with the minimum of fuss. In fact they were all helpfulness - and I can't recommend them enough.   [...]