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Month: March 2006

The customer service message we’d all love to give!

Woot : What Is Woot?

While I’m not much the wiser as to ‘what is W00t!’, I am in admiration of their customer returns policy!

Will I receive customer support like I’m used to?

No. Well, not really. If you buy something you don’t end up liking or you have what marketing people call “buyer’s remorse,” sell it on eBay. It’s likely you’ll make money doing this and save everyone a hassle. If the item doesn’t work, find out what you’re doing wrong. Yes, we know you think the item is bad, but it’s probably your fault. Google your problem, or come back to that product discussion in our community and ask other people if they know. Try to call the manufacturer and ask if they know. If you give up and must return it to us, then follow on to the next FAQ entry.

How do I return a defective product?

Unless we specifically tell you not to, call the manufacturer of the product you bought. You will likely get a replacement of a new model or better item from them. If we still haven’t dissuaded you, email with your woot order number, the name of the product you are returning, and the detailed problem with the item. We will respond with return authorization by the next business day. Because we aren’t likely to have a replacement in stock, you should be prepared for a refund-only option if that’s all we can do. Know that return freight will be at your expense. Again, you will probably get a better deal from the manufacturer, or whoever else handling customer service for that product.


Unless you’re the customer, of course.

Avocado Cutter: pointless gadget – and not even a battery

…not nor no blue LED neither, dammit.

The Avocado Cutter

Makes a knife look like a technical solution.

You know you’re in trouble when the “feature list” is as follows:

•Your personalized logo on the Avocado Cutter
•A customized recipe card
•Sealed in a clear poly bag
• Free digital pre-press and color seperations
•Shipped in easy storage cartons
•A digital version of your card

“Sealed in a clear poly bag”?? With this packing, Ambassador, you really spoil us.

MacBookPro – two hot weeks.

As I was about to leave Littlewoods, handing back my laptop in the ceremony of stripping of the tech (think of Beau Geste and ripping off the epaulets of the legionnaires – you get the picture), I get call from the lovely people at Square, the Mac centre on New Oxford Street, saying that they did after all have a “spare” MacBookPro… Did I want it?

One quick fumble to extract my credit card later and it was mine. They “only had the 2ghz” (heh) and I was pleased with the specs. Lots of everything. My 15″ G4 powerbook had been running like a dog: a combination of Firefox memory leak (which I hadn’t realised was happening), years of crap software, betas, rubbish and finally no disk space was making it painfully slow. Oh, and an old processor, and no RAM. Anyway, it had served well. I was however looking forward to the promised greased lightning computing.

Two weeks in, with the first coffee stains on the lovely speakers, and scratches on the lid, here’re my thoughts. This isn’t a full review cos hey I’m lazy, underqualified and others have done it better. These are the views of a Mac Addict on his new toy (^W ‘necessary business expenditure).

1) Packaging to die for. I assume the box is matt-laminated to withstand frequent licking by happy purchasers? Thin, elegant, stylish. What an experience. It’s probably “eco” too, just to add to the smugness factor! I’m keeping the box.

2) Power chord. It’s lovely. Great idea – especially in a house with galloping 3-year olds. The downside is that the transformer unit is significantly bigger than the last PB unit and so plugging it in (on trains, odd corners, underfloor power boxes etc) is a pain. Speaking of pain, there’s now a need to acquire – at £65 a pop – spare power adapters. Strike two on the gullibility scale.

3) Illuminated keyboard. Why didn’t I specify this on the last PB? Excellent.

4) Screen. Denser pixel count, brighter. Pleasant.

5) Startup: whoosh – that’s fast.

6) Speed overall. Well, it’s certainly faster for most things. iCal is still a total, barking, mangey dog. It was conceived in an evil plot to sap power from ‘puters and make us upgrade. It’s now just “awful” instead of “suicide-inducing”. Firefox suck, flies, searchlight is fiendishly quick and iPhoto is on performance-enhancing drugs! 10,000 images scrolling briskly. Impressive. That aside though it’s simply a brisker overall experience.

7) YE GODS IT’S HOT!! If this is the “cool” option (ie the Intel dual core because G5 chips run too hot) then I’m going to buy an asbestos mat for the G5. I’ve never had a laptop this hot: it really is not safe for laps! The heat seems to come from the left hand side by the power supply so I blame that. I don’t know why, but I do. You may remember those “take a break” reminder widgets so you didn’t get RSI: this is ‘take a break or your hand will fry!” 🙂

That’s it.

Is it wortwhile? Not sure. It’s nice to have a new ‘puter (fewer scratches, chance to start over on the organisational front, smell of the box etc), but it’s an evolutionary step rather than a total speed revolution. A G5 desktop is still way faster for about everything, and – as we Maccies get reminded – most PC desktops are faster still. Just shows that a) you don’t really need that much power for mobile computing and b) what Mac Addicts will put up with just to use OSX and be touched by the Power of Jobs.

Now, time to order that G5 🙂

111,111 miles


A shot from the crapcam (while stationary, of course) of the odo on our car: 111,111 miles. Not bad.

I’m not sure whether it’s having driven some 35,000 miles last year on motorways (Ms 1, 6, 62 featuring most highly in my list) between London, Manchester and Liverpool that’s made me ponder interesting, symmetrical, well-kerned combinations, or whether an innate pull towards numerology, but whatever the reason it’s still a pretty number.

It’s the only time I’m likely to see the same number “all up” on the odo: I missed 000000 and I’m not sure I’ll still have the car at 222222.

That’s it. Welcome to my private musings from the driver’s seat 🙂

MMS – a purpose at last!

MMS to Combat London Grafitti at MobHappy

Yay – at last a sensible purpose for MMS (other than sending photos of the kids with mucky faces to all and sundry): calling in the White Knights of the local authority to clear up graffiti, fly-tipping and other antisocial behaviour.

While not quite as satisfying as calling up close air support (think choppers, “Ride of the Valkyries” and “Platoon”), I have visions of Rapid Response Units, armed with picture phones, awaiting our text…

It shows though the innovation happening in local authories in the UK, opening up services and responsiveness. With move mobile phones in the UK than people I reckon that we can’t even call them elitist 🙂

All I want now is a phone with sufficiently good resolution to scan in the barcodes of expired Road Fund Licences and/or the VIN number of cars without. A mobile crushing lorry could then render the car into a heap of diced metal and plastic, ready for recycling, while the camera then catches the look on the face of the tax dodging, insurance-free, polluting, congestion-charge-evading tossers when they get their just deserts.

You’ll see me in the picture cowering behind the Very Large Gentlemen – joy being balanced by fear, natch.

Three cheers for Lewisham. Not sure what it’ll do for the People’s Art of Graffiti, but hopefully we’ll now get a better view when the rubbish, fly-tipping and abandoned cars are removed 😉

Fuel Cell flashlight

Angstrom Power Inc. :: Better than Batteries™

Is it wicked and/or weak to desire this torch (oops, “flashlight”) so much? This is like CSI-style torchiness on turbo-charged steroids.

Never mind what on earth fuel cells might be, just remember that it recharges with hydrogen. Yes. “Whoomph + pshhht”.

Best of all is that the recharger is so, well, Judge Dredd. “R1 Refueling Station”. Swoon.

Quoth the blurb:


Someday, all battery-powered thingies will be this way.

Now, is it better, while on an extended back-country trek, to moan about taking spare batteries or carting a small cylinder of compressed hydrogen?

Slightly Foxed

The other day I got an email from a dear friend (but infrequent emailer) asking if I had come across “Slightly Foxed”. Wondering whether he was having a midlife crisis and had joined a secret society I had to admit I’d not.

A few days later the most beautifully produced, confidently-designed book arrived at home: Matthew had generously got me a subscription 🙂

If you think Granta meets Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent then you’ll get an idea of quirkiness and personality meeting intelligent analysis and literature.

It’s very much a miscellany though – just the thing to read through, ignoring any initial distaste for a topic, since even the most unpromising seem to flower into an interesting read. Ideal to expand and stimulate interests (for example I now have to read On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, following a great article called “Blame it on Matron”… You get the picture! Well, you will if you get a copy of Issue 9 from their backissues page:

Slightly Foxed

Overall, a really great recommendation which I’m very happy to pass on. Check it out! I was so pleased I sent the Publisher some fan mail 🙂

Firefox: resource hog…

I’ve been using Firefox for, oh, ages and I’m a total, utter fan. Generally slick, usable and stable. Or at least, it was…

I recently (gloat mode on) acquired a 2ghz MacBookPro (end gloat) and was looking forward to screaming performance. My last laptop was a 1-ish Ghz Powerbook G4 and it was creaking at the seams for everything other than, erm, TextEdit or, well, that’s it.

Years of application abuse was to blame, I thought, and a clean, shiny MacBookPro should fly.

Well, fly it did for most things, but I was still getting the spinning coloured wheel of death – what on earth? I also noticed that Firefox was stalling and, infrequently, crashing. Hmmm. I decided to keep the activity monitor open and noticed regular 100% CPU usage (er – it’s a _browser_! 100% CPU? Regularly?).

It’s just crashed again and I’m a bit cross now.

I’d dump it, save only that Safari (while being small, light and quick) just sucks at anything that needs javascript or world-at-large compatibility. Web2.0 via Safari is a sad, cold and lonely world!

So, here’s hoping that some capable people fix my favourite browser: before I go mad, of before I’m the laughing stock of those I’ve harangued for a year about how fab Firefox is…

Ah – the tribulations of zealotary.

InformationWeek | Firefox 1.5 | Firefox 1.5: Not Ready For Prime Time? | December 8, 2005

A tale of two awards: Retail Week and Revolution Magazine


Ah, it’s a tough life! Last week saw me in my black tie at the Grosvenor House hotel on Park Lane for two award dinners: that for Retail Week on the 16th of March, and the Revolution Magazine awards dinner (for which awards I’d played a small part as a judge).

I was a guest of Conchango at the Retail Week awards and Mike Altendorf and his team were hospitable, generous and highly convivial hosts. The table was just great, with people from M&S, Ann Summers, Comet and Currys, as well as the esteemed CIO at Littlewoods, Martin Wyke.

Our table was a small “digital enclave” and my overwhelming thought about the awards (the next day, as the headache cleared) was how traditional the retail industry is. The people I met all seemed to have worked in the industry for many years, often working through either M&S or GUS or both. These companies clearly provide the basis of training and networking for the industry and I’m sure that an award is due to them for that!

eCommerce is clearly making an impact, but it’s still “other” and “new”. Companies like Conchango (and also Javelin) are championing “integrated commerce”, building upon the tradition capabilities in buying and distribution, but it’s still a matter of turning oil tankers…

The Revolution awards could not have been more different. The gathering was younger, focused on digital marketing and ecommerce, and there was a confident, “up” feeling to the evening from the start.

At some point in my career I’d hope to have the buzz, talent, can-do creativity and digital sparkle from the Revolution evening meet fully the experience, merchandising and capability in the Retail Week camp. Then we’d know that the 21st Century eCommerce aspirations are becoming a reality!

Phil Buxton did really well on the podium and will shortly be tying the knot at his wedding: congrats to Phil – let us know which speech was the most nerve-wracking (my money’s on the wedding speech!).

My final resolution though is to go and see more live, stand-up comedy: The Pub Landlord (Revolution) and Dara o’Brien (RW) were both great: sharp, funny and clearly bemused by (aka not giving a toss about) the events – wonderful!

More shots from the CrapCam after the jump.

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