Great service from tsohost.co.uk

I’ve been on the tsohost.co.uk Pro hosting package for a couple of years now at home.  I used to be with DomainCity for several years but after service got worse, email was down regularly and a general lack of features it was time to move.  I posted to the Web Host Chat forum asking for recommendations and Adam from tsohost.co.uk contacted me, advertising their services.  A couple of emails later I was a customer and have never looked back.
In two years I have never had any problem with their service.  In the approx 5 times I have raised a support ticket with a question I think the longest it has taken them to respond with an answer is 20 minutes.  Today I raised a support ticket and got a reply within 2-3 minutes – this seems the norm and is excellent customer service – and on a Saturday too.  Weekends don’t seem to make a difference to how long it takes them to reply.
So, a big ‘thank-you’ to tsohost.co.uk for your excellent service over the last 2 years – I’m a very happy customer!

trueCall

Dragon's Den is always interesting to watch on TV but every so often there's a product on it that sparks your interest and makes you want to go out and buy it. Our first Dragon's Den purchase was a while ago now and was a Yakibox and the most recent one was a trueCall. Don't bother ordering anything from the Yakibox site now as I'm not sure the company is still trading – we ordered some other stuff from them a while back and never received it and never received any replies to emails).  The Yakibox itself is great though! Our trueCall arrived today and has just been plugged in – all good so far, set up and ready to go.  Even though we're on the telephone preference service we still get loads of calls from Indian call centres and silent automated callers.  The TPS cuts down a lot but we're hoping the trueCall will cut it down even more. For those that don't know how it works it basically intercepts your calls and checks if the caller is on your know 'starred' list.  If it is then it lets it straight through and your phone rings.  If it doesn't recognise the number, or it's withheld, your phone doesn't ring and and trueCall intercepts it.  It asks the caller for their name – if nothing is given then it rejects the call without your phone ringing.  If they do leave their name it then rings your phone and announces the caller, giving you chance to either accept the call, reject it or ask them to leave a message.  You can add callers to a permanent 'starred' list (to always get through) or a 'zap' list, to always be blocked. We've tried it from our mobile phones and all seems good, and tried the messaging service and this seems better than BT's 1571 service.  With trueCall's messaging service you can check the list of inbound/outbound calls and messages from the internet and also have a control panel for other settings and star/zap lists. Looking forward to seeing how it performs over the next few weeks!

Tesco Home Delivery fail us again

Since the Tesco online grocery delivery started, several years ago, we generally use them about once a month to buy certain bulky items so that we don't have to pick up as much when visiting the store.  Over the years though we have changed what we do order from them as, increasingly, their inability ro deliver good quality meat, fruit and vegetables gets more pronounced. These days we never usually order fresh produce from them – we always pick these ourselves at the store.  We have had rotting fresh produce delivered on at least 5 occasions and would regularly have been sent produce right on the edge of 'sell by' date.   They'd probably deny that they try to get rid of items that is barely fresh through the online service, but that's how it increasingly feels to us. For the last few orders we haven't ordered anything fresh but tonight we had a delivery including potatoes – these arrived and were soft, with several convered in mould.  Ridiculous…. So (another) email of complaint has just gone out to Tesco and I'm sure I'll get their standard email of apology back. From this point forward though, absolutely no fresh produce will be ordered through their online service – you just can't trust them to pick anything decent. There are some hilarious quotes on their web site
:-

Picking your fresh food
Our expertly trained shoppers always pick from the back of the shelves to ensure you get the freshest produce and the longest sell by dates. They also carefully select fruit and vegetables as if they were shopping for themselves. They ask themselves the question “would I buy it?” and therefore do not send out anything that is not of the highest quality.
Rubbish!

Security? What security?!

We've just got back from a nice 5 day break in London, seeing a few places never visited before, doing loads of walking and exploring and eating at places we don't get to eat at back home. We had originally booked to stay around the corner from Paddington Station, in Sussex Gardens, just off the Edgware Road, as we've stayed in that area several times before but this had to change when we saw the room…  We'd booked into the Castleton Hotel as the one we normally stay in, just a few doors up, was fully booked.  On arriving we found that the room we had been allocated wasn't big enough to swing a cat in, had one of those awful 'pod' rooms for a bathroom and the air-con was not functioning.  The window also only opened 3″ at max – for “safety” reasons, apparently. As it was about 26C in London that day we were less than impressed in seeing what we'd been allocated, especially as we'd already asked when booking for a room on the first floor with a better sized room.   We decided to cancel at the Castleton and try out the Hilton Metropole at the top of the road, where we have also stayed several times before.  Luckily the Hilton had a spare room so we started to pay by credit card…. “Do you have any photo ID?”, we were both asked. “Ummm no, driving license at home, no passport as we don't need one here” “We can't let you in if you don't have photo ID” “What? We have a Hilton Honours number as we've been here before so you know who we are – does that help?” “Sorry, hotel policy, you need photo ID – it's for security.” …and so it went on for a few moments as the ludicrous situation unfolded where even though we had been there before at least 4 or 5 times they wouldn't sell us a room. We wandered out of the hotel and wondered what to do next, when Helen suggested ringing them and trying to book online.  She went back into the hotel to get the phone number and was told “You don't need to use your own phone, you can use the red phone to the side of the check-in desks, it's direct to 'reservations'”. So, we called from their red phone, right next to the check in desk.  Used the same credit card we had offered them at check-in desk.  Were asked no other information and booked a room.  We then stepped a few paces to the left, gave them the reference number and checked-in – no request for photo-ID.  How ridiculous!?! We could have picked up a credit card that was lost, phoned up, given that name, booked a room and that was that.  However, if you walk into the hotel and try and book a room you need photo ID. So they stay cost us double what it would have done at the Castleton but at least you get a quality stay at the Hilton and all was resolved in the end. As for their “hotel policy” and “security”, what ridiculous security is that then?!

Our ’88 Mini Designer in MiniWorld magazine

It’s been an interesting year so far for our old 1988 Mini ‘Designer’ Mary Quant limited edition.   A month or so ago we were asked to submit some photos to the Mini Designer Register site (currently ‘Mini of the month’ at bottom of front-page and several photos on other pages) and then the webmistress of that site put us in touch with a journalist for MiniWorld who was doing an article on Mary Quant.

I took a batch of photos, sent them off and heard back the other day that a few had been used on the article which is now in the shops. So, if you see the July edition of MiniWorld you’ll find 4 of my pics on page 117 of our little old Mini – hurrah!

The full set of photos, from which 4 were selected are on Flickr for anyone interested.

Mini 'Designer' - Mary Quant

Found a reason to use Twitter…eventually!

I've held back from using Twitter for ages as I've never had a reason to want to use it.  The thought of seeing banal messages of "I had beans on toast tonight" just didn't give me a burning desire to sign up.  That changed though at the weekend… On Sunday, as previously mentioned, I was at The Gadget Show Live at the NEC.  I took a couple of (rather poor quality) photos on my N95 cameraphone, as I didn't have my Canon with me, and put them on Flickr.  One of the photos was quite amusing of Jason and Suzi and I remembered Jason commenting at the event "I hope this doesn't get onto YouTube".   When I saw how the photo came out I dropped him an email with the link to Flickr – that was the start of the sequence of events. I'd actually created a Twitter account a couple of weeks before, just to reserve the name, but hadn't used it.  I thought it was now a good time to add The Gadget Show presenters onto my Twitter account to see how it all worked. Next I noticed a comment on Twitter from Suzi regarding my photo I'd posted and emailed to Jason.  I assume she must have told him about it.  It had a tinyurl link to my Flickr photo and the comment "ha ha….nice nips!".  Then the hits started coming in… Yesterday the photo had about 1200 hits and today we're up to about another 150-ish.   Jason has linked to it from his blog and there have been about 67 referrers from there also so far. All this, and a few comments back and forth on Twitter has been really enjoyable and it's interesting to see how Twitter works.   I don't see myself posting many comments that are just statements and not replies to other people, as I still feel that saying if I had beans on toast or not is not interesting to anyone,  but I'll see how it goes. The Gadget Show has been one of my favourite shows on TV for a good few years now and seeing the live event at the weekend was great – can't wait until next year!

The Gadget Show Live – 2009

We were up at The Gadget Show Live at the NEC in Birmingham today.  What a great show!  We were fortunate to be on the very front row, right in the middle, during the hour long session from the presenters.  One of the best things seen there was the new Panasonic Viera Z1 Series plasma TV – a picture that has to be seen to be believed.  If I could justify £4k for a TV then this would be the only choice.   I snapped a few photos but apologies for the quality – they are from a Nokia N95 as I didn't have my proper camera with me.

Longing for an art-house cinema around Worcester

There are rarely films on at our local cinemas (Vue & Odeon) in Worcester that I actually want to see – maybe one or two a year that are worth a visit.  That's not to say I don't like films – I love films and that's the problem.  We make good use of our LoveFilm subscription with the huge selection of world cinema and other great movies they have in stock but get frustrated that the two main chain cinemas in the city just churn out the usual brainless fodder that people seem to lap up these days.  These poor examples of film-making are usually advertised by a one-liner from an unknown film reviewer (I won't call them a critic, as they don't) in something like Heat magazine…. On the other hand, if you like hearing/reading reviews from the likes of Mark Kermode and Andrew Collins then it'll often be the case that, when a gem of a film appears, our cinema doesn't show it – instead we get things like "Marley and Me" instead.   Just dig out the Mark Kermode podcast on this if you want a real laugh… One such film we'll probably miss at the cinema, as it won't be shown, is "Låt den rätte komma in" (Let the right one in) – we're going to have to wait for this to come out on DVD now, or make a trip over to Stratford to see it. I'd really like a decent art-house cinema in Worcester, can't see it happening anytime soon though. One quick film recommendation, for anyone intersted is: Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter..and Spring)