Aged 16 -18 in Northern Ireland ? Your Country needs you !

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Volunteer for the Youth Panel and help build a new Northern Ireland youth assembly.


Doing the Coinstar thing

You may or not have heard of Coinstar.

It’s a simple format, pour your loose coinage into the big machine and they count it, sort it and convert it to notes.  I went along to Tesco in Lisburn on Saturday morning with a bag of coin, hit the start button and poured it in.  I would have been happy with around £15 however to my shock I had managed to gather up £50 in coin which worked out at around £45 after their 8.9% commission.

Some might think that 8.9% commission to convert coin into notes is a steep price to pay, however I had over 1800 1pence pieces and I can’t imagine I would have sat down and counted that myself by hand.  To me, like most people bronze coin is dead money and you forget it is actual money as you can’t spend it in any great quantity so to me the £45 was just like getting free money. Read the rest of this entry »

A guide to Social Networking and Media

Love it or hate it, social networking and social media were the buzz words of 2009 and as we move into 2010 social sites like Facebook and Twitter are not only here to stay but they will continue to grow as more and more people move parts of their life and work online.  We may even see some more sites on the rise as Google and Microsoft try to get a foothold in this space.

That said it is important to know what you are getting into and it is also important to educate your employers and employees on the benefits of allowing staff to use and embrace this space.

I’m not going to write guides or speak for long on the subject although I could talk for days on it, much wiser men people have already done that and to great effect.  Instead I’m going to point you in the direction of some great articles and guides on conquering this fantastic form of communication. Read the rest of this entry »

Skoda – We manufacture happy drivers, but do your dealers ?

Maybe so but the main issue is that Skoda after building the car, then go and put their trust in their dealer network to stay true to the brand.

In April of 2009 I purchased a November registered 2006 Octavia vRS from Mervyn Stewart (MS) / Skoda in Belfast.  I love(ed) it, I had been searching for a car for work, parenting and scouting for some time and it ticked all the boxes, whilst not being too common and still a bit cool.  One of my biggest concerns with buying a used or ‘pre enjoyed’ car (in particular a Skoda), was the warranty as my father had had serious problems a number of years ago with the computer on his Octavia.

The dealer ‘ Richard’, in fact the ‘Manager’ said, “The warranty is up on that car in Nov 2009 and we will extend it by 2 further years” . Happy days !  Or so I thought until Saturday 9th January.  When I was driving down the motorway, all power was lost and the car came to a stop and would not re start.

The following timeline then occured

Sat 9th Jan :

Car looses all power on the motorway.  I call Skoda assist who tell me, ‘this car is out of warranty, call someone else’  After some explaining to them that the dealer extended the warranty they sent out the RAC who pulled in the computer which showed there was a fuel injector fault.  He could not fix it so he suggested he would tow me into Skoda Belfast (Mervyn Stewart or MS as we will now call them). Read the rest of this entry »

Google vs China : The battle continues ….

On Tuesday I wrote on my blog about how Google were about to go to war with the Chinese government in an attempt to un censor their service there after an attack on their servers, probably by the Chinese government themselves.

I’m almost reading between the lines on this and thinking that Google are simply coming right out and saying to the Government, look we know it was you – enough is enough. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning to fly, but I ain't got wings

Tom Petty says that coming down is the hardest thing, however for my Wife it is a different story.

Around 10 years ago, whilst on holiday with her family my Wife developed a fear of flying and was petrified of coming home.  She has no idea what triggered it or brought it on but it has been there ever since.  Around a year later, we went on holiday (by plane) and I have to say it was the worst holiday I have ever been on, her fear of the return flight ruined the holiday,

Needless to say, she has never flown since despite the fact that I fly every month.  What scares most is not death itself but the way one might die if the plane was in an accident.  September 11 obviously did not help the issue.

We have a daughter now and Linzi (my wife) is determined to get over this fear so we can show Hannah (our daughter) the world.

She is not really interested in getting drugged up but thinks hypnotherapy might be the answer, so my question to you is.  Do you know of anyone or anything that can help her ?



Google reviews business in China after attack

From Google’s press debt – My comments are below

Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident–albeit a significant one–was something quite different.

First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses–including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors–have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.

Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves. Read the rest of this entry »