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I was in the audience at the Episode 5 filming yesterday at the BBC and this is what I thought of it... Having never been at the recording of a TV program before I really did not know what to expect?. You que for a while outside the BBC, they file you through into a small cafeteria area until you get called to the studio. We were in studio one, where they film Top of the Pops and Blue Peter, we got to walk past the central circular fountain ? it was strange, very strange I have seen that whole area on TV so many times it felt so familiar. Steve Coogan put on a splendid performance in an episode as the now living out of a caravan while his house is finished, post mental breakdown radio DJ Alan Partridge was attempting for the second year running to achieve his ambition of watching all James Bond Movies in chronological order with "5 minutes for toilet break" and "20 mins to take Lyn to lay flowers on her mothers grave", last years "Bondathon" of was cancelled due to Lyn's mother dying - crying shame! Lyn his erstwhile PA has a Baptist ex policeman boyfriend who sees right through Alan's bullying, The Geordie chap in the previous series (Sorry I forgot his name!) is now working at the Local BP service station, Dave Clifton is doing the late spot. The episode opens with Alan inviting his Geordie friend to the Bondathon, only to be gazumped by Tex the Yankophile offering to take the Geordie chap to a truck festival "David Soul will be there" Alan later comes out with the great line "Are you talking to any other men?? Alan and the Geordie fall out and Alan goes back to his Caravan. "Walking in the Manner of James Bond" (!!!) around his half built house he bumps into the bodybuilding builder, not to spoil anything but it seems Alan's latent homosexuality manifests itself much in this series. Back at the caravan Lyn reminds Ala n that he was
going to drive here out to see her mothers grave on the first anniversary of her death, Alan gives her a couple of minutes while he plays house music and beeps his horn while she is laying the flowers down. To cut a long and very funny story short Lyn manages to accidentally ruin the bond tapes, Alan looses it with some cereal and they end up watching "The worlds strongest man". Oh also it looks like his new catchphrase will be "Butter my A*se!" Altogether a great episode, i'm sure it will be a classic. Dave
No seriously I was, but you'll have to read past the opinion bit before you get to the story. OK if you really can't wait i've marked it with a few "*****"'s so scroll down if you like but don't forget to come visit the top once you're done :-) OK i'm gonna break the writers block and do an op! Actually i'm cheating this was a comment I made, someone suggested I write it as an op, so what the heck here it is if anyone wants to read it. I can comment on it from both sides, a long time ago (early '90s) I used to manage several Domino's Pizza branches. When I worked there : Training was virtually non-existant Those Scooters they use can be ridden by anyone with a provisional license so you tend to get a lot of 16/17 y/o's working there as the wages are so poor. At the end of each shift we used to do the daily accounts, the target was to run the shift at a 20% food cost and a 20% labour cost, this means that the managers are ruthless in clocking people on and off to bring the wage cost down, and they are very precise about the toppings - Chicken and Peperoni are the most expensive. Domino's Pizza guys hate Pizza Hut guys - if you wanna wind them up then tell them Pizza hut are offering a similar pizza cheaper! Good side Domino's is pretty hygenic, apart from the fact that the drivers mostly cut the pizzas up - you wanna see a drivers hands after a night on a moped. The product is actually very good quality, dough is delivered fresh, well frozen, then proofed (allowed to raise)in the store. The toppings are actually good quality. They are supposed to have a 100% satisfaction guarantee so if there is something wrong about the pizza then tell them and you will get a free one. Perspective as a customer. I need to mention that I never mention that I used to work for the comp
any when I order (or used to order) Had a fair to middling experience for many years, the pizzas sometimes turned up cold but mostly they were ok. ******************************************* The Juicy bit - you can stop scrolling now! ******************************************* However (short version of the story) - One night I ordered one, arrived late and cold, complained, promised another, arrived late and cold, complained - rude guy on the phone, insulted me, swore at me, refused a refund, put phone down on me, i went there with 2 cold pizzas asking for refund, arguement at the shop, manager and 2 drivers attacked me physically, shirt torn, several bruises, police called, my word against theirs, phone call to their head office, nothing they can do my word against theirs and it's a franchise so they have no authority sent free pizza coupon, pizza coupon torn up and sent back, call from Director of the Franchise, heard about it promise to reprimand employee, sent free pizza coupon, sent back torn up. So there you are, I will never set foot in the place again, the first time in 10 years I have ever been in a fight and it was with the bloody pizza shop. Great product, sorely let down by the quality of staff.
I work in the software industry and used to work with clients who felt that they had a need to snoop on employees use of their internet resources, so I would like to put a few words down on the general concept that this product covers. I am not going to report on usability of the software as I don't wish to install it. Most office environments now have some for of access to the general internet available for a variety of legitimate business reasons including research, eCommerce, eProcurement. The problem is that it is very easy that given simple to use access to the internet, people will act on natural curiosity and stray away from using the internet for normal business purposes - start going to dooyoo on work time (never!), book holidays, check the weather, and other less savory activities. The response that companies have to this kind of activity tend to be catagorised into two camps - those that clamp down, impose restrictions, monitoring and dis-empower employees to participate in this kind of activity, and the others who deny that a problem exists, and just allow employees to do as they wish with no control whatsoever. In my professional capacity I used to work with the former, believe me there is very little that an employee could get away with if the employer is determined enough. All well and good? Well not really one of the fundamental points that these companies missed is that it is neither morally right or commercially sensible to deny people the ability to satisfy their curiosity using technology that is available to them, provided that the activity is legal it is practically much more productive to enable people to have some form of access and the privacy and respect of the employer to do so. And this gets me around to this piece of software, it is designed to enable people (presumably employees where they would need to hide their activity) to surf the web, and should anyone else come within sigh
t of their screen then they can push a panic button and all the windows will disappear and any record of what they were doing will be erased, it isn't software it is Panicware! This simply cannot be a good sign, if an employee feels that he or she needs to go to such time and expense to pretend to his employer that he or she is working then it suggests that there is a deeper problem with staff morale and attitude to management. In conclusion the workplace is not a battleground with employees rights on one side and employers objectives on the other, there needs to be some give and take on both sides, the technology exists - we can't un-invent it, it could have great commercial potential, the "them and us" mentality in a traditional workplace does need to be modified in the modern hi-tech environment, personally I need the internet for my job, I do surf the web at times but I do also get my work done, am more productive than I have ever been and as I am empowered by my employer to use the internet at my digression I feel no need to hide what I am doing.
A compelling and interesting web-site - a great waste of time! The purpose =========== The web-site is designed to show the annoying "spam" e-mail we all get at work - jokes, weird pictures, funny videos, sound files - but laid out in a nice way so we don't have to wade through lots of un-structured junk to find that famous sound file everyone in the office always talks about but that you are ashamed to have never heard. How it works ============ The entire content is contributed by visitors to the site, so for example if you are sent a funny picture by a colleague, you can email that to the web-site and if they feel it's of interest then it will appear the next day. The nice thing is that as the website gets so much traffic every day there is always a great deal of variety in the new items posted. How is it laid out? =================== The site is pretty quick to load and navigation seems to be pretty easy with links to the last few day's items on the right, the new items on the left and more detail on the days items in the middle. Personally I always go to the "Yesterdays mail" section on the left first because it holds the really interesting stuff like links to some very weird and wacky web-sites. So whats so special about it? ============================= I can't put my finger on it but ilovebacon has a very addictive side to it, there is something there that compels you to return each time you are on the internet, that makes you click things out of curiosity and to stay on the site an inordinate amount of time. What’s the background? ===================== Rob Glenn runs the site, he used to be a web consultant doing a lot of branding/naming back in the halcyon days when companies were investing in "web properties" he spotted the name was available so decided to put up a web site under that name
with junk sent to him by email. As interest in the web site increased It became his full time job - the site now attracts many thousands of visitors a day and is funded by advertising and selling t-shirts etc. In conclusion this web-site has been on my favorites list for the best part of a year now, and yes i'm addicted to bacon.
HSBC has been my bank for over 10 years now and increasingly in the past few years, as my requirements from a bank have developed I have needed more and more involvement from my bank in terms of a personal touch - I have really valued having someone on the end of a phone who knows me, my financial plans and can help arrange an overdraft, transfer money, sell me something relevant etc. And this has been precisely the relationship that has developed with my branch in the past, I didn't plan it that way it just kind of happened. Around the start of the year I made a decision to try to get as many factors in my life sorted out as I possibly could my contact had mentioned in the past about HSBC Premier so I thought I would give it a go. HSBC Premier is a service that this bank offers that gives you the following : Dedicated Account Mananger - A person on the end of the phone who can and will bend over backwards to get things done for you, I asked for info on Childrens savings accounts, 30 mins later she came back to me with two options, the next day one of the banks investment advisors called me also - it's obvious my account manager really took an interest in helping me out (ok and getting my business!). +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ £250 Cheque Guarantee Card - Well the only time I use cheques is to pay the milkman and utility bills so thats a bit irrelevant. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Preferential interest rates on savings - I wouldn't use a bank for illiquid savings, I prefer to put the money into isas, shares, property etc so thats a bit irrelevant for me also. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Global coverage - I havn't used it yet but I think this may be useful, if I am overseas and am stuck for money then hopefully i'll be able to wonder into a HSBC or affiliate bank and get my hands on my account. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Acc
ess to HSBC Private Clients - This should be useful, P.C. is the portfolio management side of HSBC, i.e. they give independant advice on stocks and shares. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Nice leather wallets - Hmmm something for the carboot sale, seriously they are quite nice. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 3 months on since moving over I must say the service I am getting from my bank is very good, I am quite fussy but have nothing to complain about - whenever I need help I get it, I do feel that there is someone at the bank who will be prepared to take responsibility if I need to get something done and overall would consider myself as a happy customer.
The way I look at it is that the distinction between "The Internet" and "Business" has become blurred somewhat, prior to the dot com crash all someone had to do was to be on the internet with a 'different' idea for it to be considered a business, the premise was that the medium was so new in concept no one really knew what a sensible business model is save from attracting as many visitors to the site as possible - which was the only metric by which the success of the "Business" could be measured. The problem was that the investors, which unfortunately included a lot of individuals (Greed) simply did not recognise that what was being created was a house of cards, the money going into the dot coms was considered a measure of the success rather than the money being actually produced, it just couldn't last. As we all know the bubble burst, with the benefit of hindsight the problem turned out to be that people didn't know where the ceiling was during the boom, consequently no one knows where the floor is, we are seeing a lot of consolidation in the industry with those companies with un-sustainable business models folding and those which either are sitting on a cash pile or are actually making money consolidating their position. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ So the million doller question is what happens next, my guess is that the internet will continue expanding, maybe a little slower as the western world becomes more and more penetrated by access points - PC's, WAP, G3, DTV yade yade yade ya. The internet will be used more and more as a means to an end rather than an end in it's self, the really successfull companies will be those that have the ability to both offer a product or service appropriate to the medium i.e. something you don't need to use your senses (other than sight) to decide to buy, and equally to deliver that product, the really successfull compa
nies on the internet will be those that can successfully connect their proven businesses to their eBusiness presence. There are a couple of sides at the moment, each with distinct issues The dot com ----------- The biggest problem a true web retailer such as Amazon have is that they had to create a traditional business (Warehouse, Logistics, Administration etc) behind their eBusiness. Their core skills were selling not fulfilling. The bricks and morter business ------------------------------ The biggest problem that traditional businesses have with the web is that they know how to make things, they know how to deliver things but they don't know how to project their existing business practices onto the internet. Consider a clothing company with a web site, if they try to sell you a pair of trousers then they need to tell you whether the have them in stock, the challenge is that information such as stock levels is not easily accessable via the web, instead it is stored in proprietry systems that are specifically designed to be difficult to access (for a variety of reasons). Successfull businesses on the internet will combine the two - the marketing and economy of scale of a true dot com and the ability to manufacture and deliver of traditional businesses. I titled this opinion "Take the 'e' out of e-Business!!" And I truly believe it, the 'e' is becoming increasingly irrelevent, the internet is going to become secondary to the sound well thought out businesses that people use the internet to access and do business with.
There are a few sure fire ways to get an upgrade from BA, but you need first to understand the way that things work with them. Firstly they, like all airlines oversell if they can on all flights...i.e. if there are say 200 seats on the flight, then they will sell 220 tickets, banking on 10% of the people not showing up, the most common of these are people who have paid for the flexibility of traveling Club or First where they are able to cancel or alter their arrangements at very short notice. The net result of this is that there are generally either seats going spare or double bookings, occasionally in economy. Secondly the main priority of an airline is in running their planes with as many (warm) bodies filling as many seats as possible, so if they need to up-grade economy class passengers to get more on then they will, this is what happens when you occasionally get upgraded out of the blue. But if you want to tip the scales in your favour then read on... Firstly, enroll in the frequent flyers club (Executive club), it's free, for the first year you only need to make the equivalent of one transatlantic flight to keep it the next year, and most importantly you will get preferential treatment when it comes to handing out the up-grades. In addition to which the airmiles are pretty good ? one mile traveled = one airmile, 13,000 airmiles gets you a free return flight to Europe. BA operates a waiting list for upgrades, the order of priority is as follows... BA Employees, Gold Card Holders, Silver Card Holders, Blue Card Holders, everyone else..... It is simple to get on the list, just ask at check in..."Excuse me would it be possible to go onto the waiting list for an up-grade please?" If you don?t ask then you don?t get!!! Secondly, if there is any cause for complaint, then don?t be shy in complaining. Airlines will generally give you an upgrade if they feel that their service to you is l
acking in any way, I?m not advocating you lying, exaggerating or being dishonest in any way but if you feel that you are inconvenienced it really is beneficial to politely but firmly explain this to the airline, request a complaint form if necessary and be bold in suggesting that an upgrade may solve the problem. In my experience the best tactic is firm but fair, under no circumstances be abusive or get upset , but do stand by your guns, believe me it's worth it. BA is a fine airline, but there is a system they don?t tell you about, the way I look at it is that you pay a lot for your ticket but flying in Business or First is so much more comfortable, why not use the system if you can - it doesn't cost BA that much and really improves the flying experience. 13-Jan-2003 ** Latest update ** I've just got back from the US, where I was given an upgrade to business class on the return, without even asking!!! I did ask why and the desk clerk said it was because of 3 reasons... 1. The flight was overbooked and they needed to upgrade some people They chose me and my colleagues because.. 2. We had full fare economy "Y" class tickets. 3. We were members of the Star Alliance mileage club
There are several very good reviews on here about what eBay is and how to trade, I am not going to repeat that here, however there is a side to using eBay that can be really usefull and you needen't spend a penny. I've been using eBay for almost 2 years now and have made an average of one trade every two months, so just why do i go there almost every day? The answer is simple, even more fun than trading, is finding the real street value of absolutely anything - say you are buying a new computer and you want to find out what you really should be paying - search on eBay, really like that Dali painting, want the Litho but it seems expensive in the gallery - search on eBay (I did and it saved me hundreds). There are literally millions of items sitting on eBay, it is pure, raw free market, because there are so many buyers (23 million registered users) it will find a buyer who will pay a price decided by simple supply and demand - this can be a real eye opener when trying to value something. It's like a vast sounding board, I sometimes spend hours, admittedly being sidetracked, spotting a nice watch for example, wanting to know just how much am I being ripped off by high street jewellers (yes I appreciate there is more security in buying from a shop but you tend to make allowences for that). So for me eBay is not just a car boot sale the size of London but it's a resource, one which as with dooyoo and opinions, allows me to better understand the fair value of something.
Combining the ameneties and convenience of London with the relaxed atmosphere of a pedestrianised provincial town Sutton High Street is well stocked with most big name shops, cinema, supermarkets and coffee shops. We've lived near Sutton for 5 years now and have been using both Sutton and Croydon high streets throughout, to be honest we prefer Sutton. Lets start with the drawbacks - It closes at 4:00pm on a Sunday, it's on a gentle hill and can be steep and it goes decidedly downmarket at the bottom. Now thats over and done with... Parking is plentifull, easy and cheap - there is a small one way system in Sutton circling the High Street with several multi-story car parks, we use the "St Nicholas Centre" car park where it's 30p on Sundays - about 60 p per hour other days. St Nicholas Centre is the best of the 2 shopping centres, on several levels with the usual high street names and with the top floor devoted to food and the childrens (free) play area. The local council seems to be pretty active in attracting and rotating events on the high street its self - French market stalls, Vintage Car Exhibits, fairground rides and the like. We usually do a quick shop, Coffee at Costa's half way up the high street and then finish off properley refueled - essential when shopping with a child!!! All in all as far as high streets go this is one of the best, there is place to park/it's close to the train station, relativly safe, there are shopping centres which are covered and the people are not as agressive/busy as they tend to be closer to the centre of London.
Situated In South Africa on the Northern Lesoto border, The Carolina Lodge is a converted Farm, extensively re-worked to provide a wonderfully relaxing holiday location for people who would like to get away from it all. For us city slickers this place is far away from the beaten track, the driveway is 2 miles of unpaved roadway, the accomodation is basic - clean and well kept but not exactly what you would call 5* So what is it about this place that makes a confirmed creature comfort guy like it so much? Well to start with it's run by real people - a semi-retired couple - with a passion for giving the best level of service to their guests, they are so welcoming and the attention to detail is stunning - it' nice to be waken in the morning with coffee and milk drawn from the farm's cows. Secondly it's the purety of the location, the view is stunning - with a massive panorama extending 50 miles over South Africa and the mountains of Lesoto. The food is wholesome, natural and fresh - with many ingredients originating from the farm or from the local community. There is a well stocked bar at very reasonable prices - My wife and I treated my Brother and Sister in Law + kids to the stay for 2 nights and the total bill came to £250 all inclusive, with the bar coming to a massive £35 - and we drank quite a lot! There are 2 pools - Kids one and one for the grownups, adventure playground area, areas with animals - Osteriches, Cows, Chickens etc. The Lodge offer (free to residents) Landrover trips down to ancient Bushman paintings located on the property, which is a really special experience as you can really visualise how things used to be. This Lodge is a great escape for those who want to experience good clean living in a beautiful environment, it's kid friendly and the welcome we found was better than I have experienced in many 4 and 5 star hotels in the past. For those who are wonder
ing where it is exactly it's located 3-4 hrs drive South(ish) from Johannesburg. Highly recommended.
Modification : 6 June - 01, this is one of those opinions you look back on and cringe, on reflection I should have approached the company with my complaint and given them a chance to respond instead of voicing my opinion here. Aaah well you live and learn. I've used this site once, and won't bother again. I'm not writing this as a result of frustration with the company's customer service as I feel that I have been mislead by the company and don't wish to discuss it with them....it makes sense if you read on...... I bought an "Orgasmatron" from the site, largely based on the reviews posted on their website, it cost me £18 - was supposed to be the best massager come headscratcher in the world, what eventually turned up was a collection of 8 copper wires - value about 50p - but there was lots of packaging and advertising! Big deal. This is the problem - I trusted the reviews and made a decision to buy the product as a result, and was therefore mislead, so I decided to post a review of my own on their web site, it was reasonably well laid out, coherent but on the whole negative, this was 3 weeks ago and guess what, it didn't get put on the web site. My point being if you are running a shop then make it obvious that you are selling to people, don't make the mistake of only putting the positive comments on the website as people do have different tastes, do complain and if confidence is lost then don't come back.
I've been using the vauxhall traffic net page now for over a year, and must say it really has proven to be informative, quick, easy to use, and best of all it's free! http://buypower.vauxhall.co.uk/trafficnet/index.jhtml You will need Macromedia Flash installed - there is an automatic down-load the first time if you don't already, doesn't take long. You are presented with a map of the uk, clicking any where on the map brings up a magnified view of the local area. The map will only show trafic travelling at less than 30 mph, the speed of the flow being shown by coloured arrows. You can navigate around the country by dragging the map across within the local view or clicking anywhere on the national map. Motoring incidents are also relayed onscreen as they are reported. The map can run the whole day long if you wish, there is no charge for the service and it is pretty accurate, coming home after work I can go one of several ways and I use this system everyday i'm at the office to make an informed decision prior to leaving. The proof of the pudding...does it get me home in time to read my son a story before bed......yes it has helped. Highly recommended
I spent four nights at the Atlantis resort on Paradise island, Nassau last month, not the kind of place I would normally go but it was free from work, so I went. This place is a $1bn+ development specifically designed to appeal to US taste and decency - sarcasm right! - it's like wondering onto a film set, imagine Las Vegas in a semi-tropical setting and thats it, everything is just so overdone. Atlantis is as they claim the 2nd largest aquatic environment in the world, 2nd that is to the sea...they have over 50,000 fish swimming around/through/over the hotel, really nice if your a fish lover i guess. I suppose I sound ungratefull but everything is so false here, even the walls of this massive (2,000 room) resort are textured to seem as if they are from the lost city of Atlantis. But it's not all doom and gloom - drinks are not that pricey - around 3 quid for a coctail, food varies - there is a Planet Hollywood type place in the Casion which is reasonable - $50 for a meal for 2 -> American portions, more like meal for 4 in the UK! Mobile phones don't work here and the hotel phone is $10 per minute!!! so we got our partners to call us at a certain time as from the UK it's like calling the USA. Big hint...drinks are free if you are playing the Casino tables, I played all four nights on Black Jack - came out $1,000 up and got pissed for free - bargain, my non-gambling friends just bribed the lady bringing my drinks so she gave them free drinks as well i.e. $5 tip for half a dozen drinks. You can spend a fortune here, the most expensive suite - used by the likes of Michael Jordan, Jackson, Babs Streisand etc goes for $25,000 a night. The most expensive bottle of wine is $17,000 and we got pissed one night and ended up puffing on $27 Havana cigars. The beach is quite nice, there are massage services, bars and jet bikes for hire - very addictive, 10 of us went out for an hour (you can
bargain them down on price) for $90 each, went around the island - around 10 miles, had a great time - regretted it the next day though, ouch! Watersports in general are pretty good here, they have a water "slide of death" kind of thing, where you freefall for a split second before going through a plastic tube surrounded by sharks - best done under the influence! I started this review pessamistically, however I guess like anything this place is what you make it, yes it's over done, very little taste, loads of hype, but the people were at least friendly, it was fun - more than four nights and I would have got boared though. It seemed to be pretty family friendly, just be carefull its not a cheap place, there is a website if you are interested... www.atlantis.com By the way the airport serving it - Nassau - is a real dump, if you can, take your bags with you in the cabin because they are notorious for loosing baggage.
My wife, our little boy and I recently spent 2 nights in the Umtali Hotel in a town called Aliwell North, just on the Eastern Cape/Free State border. We kind of stumbled across the place as we needed somewhere comfortable to stay, it is located a mile away from the excellent but sadly run-down Hot Springs - Aliwell North's major attraction. Situated in pristine hand manacured gardens this excellent hotel offers very clean spaceous rooms with Satellite TV, bath. There are also Bar, Restaurant facilities and 24hr security guards (important in SA!). We are fairly particular about the rooms we stay in and this hotel were very flexible in accomodating our requests - usefull when travelling with a young child. The only meals we had there were breakfast but they were served pleasently, of good quality and ample quantity. I usually go for hotels that go the extra mile for their customers - especially when something goes wrong, the reason I really like this one is that I left my video camera in the room (my fault ok!), discovered the loss 2 days after we left, and the hotel manager took ownership of the problem, found the valuable item (honest people) and had it shipped to the airport for my departure - really good service (and believe me i've had some bad service from some pretty expensive hotels in my time!!!!!) The best thing...The price, we paid around £40 a night for the 3 of us all in. Luxuary at a bargain price. If you are in the area I would recommend this one... 051 633 2400