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All hail the almighty Apple

Wireless charging of devices has been around for some time now. The technology makes plugs and adapters obsolete The only thing you need is a Qi charging station (transmitter) and a phone with wtreless charging capabilities (receiver). As soon as your battery runs out of power, you place the device on the station and your phone immediately starts charging.

Wireless Charging Station

The number of public Qi (pronounced Chi) charging stations currently totals just 5000 worldwide but just watch this space!! With the just launched iPhone 8 and iPhone X Apple have embraced this technology. Game changing' products don't come along all that often for our industry Looking back over the years we have seen many gadgets come and go and last for different time penods mouse mats. modem cables. memory sticks. digital photo frames. and more recently portable power banks and charging cables (see previous blog regarding quality issues). Apple's decision to enter the market elevates Qi very much to game changer status.

Research has shown that up to 76% of consumers are eagerly awaiting wireless charging. There are expected to be 300 million phones with this feature by the end of 2018 and 1 billion devices by the end of 2020 all because Apple has come on board. Wireless charging is becoming widely available and growing rapidly with major automotive brands (Kia. BMW. Ford) including it in their cars, coffee shops (Starbucks, Costa), fast food outlets (McDonald's) and even brands such as Ikea offering wireless charging.

All the above makes this an ideal premium gift for those really special customers at the festive season.

Boys trip

Good morning

I'm afraid that this blog is going to be very short andf hopefully sweet. I will be making my way back from a really enjoyable boys trip to Blaymont in France just north west of Toulouse. A fairly regular occurance that allows me to get away from artwork and accounts and be able to exercise my I.T. skills usually quite fully. Tood much food and wine is of course a given on these trips and ad added to that is watching a Grand Prix with similar minded individuals. To top it all below is a video of one of my favourite things in the whole wide world!

Log fire from Roger Oxford on Vimeo.

 

Feeling chuffed with myself because of a hanging basket.

I've always been keen to celebrate Christmas by having extensive decorations both inside the house and outside. Unfortunately as I'm getting older the physical exertions of putting up lots of outdoor decorations is becoming harder and harder. Plus of course taking them all down again by twelfth night. Last year I thought I had solved this ever growing problem when I purchased an outdoor laser light. As I was hoping that this would allow me to leave the light up all year long and just attach it to a timer during the month of December I went to the trouble of mounting it onto a tree in front of my house. High enough up to be out of reach and wired permanently to the eaves of teh house and into the garage. Alas I had only bought a single colour laser light that provided a display that was dissapointing to say the least! Added to the poor display where I had mounted it onto the tree it only really shone on to one corner of the house. 

This year I decided that the principle was still valid and I just needed to be a bit more careful about the light I bought this time. Fortunately a friend of mine had bought a 3 laser light and was delighted with the show it put on. I managed to acquire exactly the same type of light and when I tried it inside I was very much impressed. The other problem though was where to put it this time. I had chosen high up on a tree last year so that any delightful person or persons, maybe a bit too full of the Christmas spirit, would not be able to relieve me of it, at least very easily. The ideal position for the new light is on top of a stump that is fairly dead centre in the front garden. The trouble with this is that it will be very tempting for any persons as previously described. Having thought long and hard about this problem a quick trip to the garden centre provided the solution.

3 Laser Light

Maybe not a perfect answer but at least it will deter a casual attempt to purloin it. Once December is here I will take a little video of the fruits of my labours and let you see if you think it has all been worth it.

Christmas is definitely coming, act now

I was out shopping on Friday just gone to purchase some things for my brother in law's 50th birthday party that we were hosting at the weekend and several things struck me. No 1 was that the northern end of the Purley Way must be avoided at all costs even midday on a Friday during half-term. Secondly, PC World really should change it's name now as there seemed to be precious few PC's in it and a lot more toasters and televisions. Clearly a sign that the internet is the place that the vast majority of anyhting to do with computers is bought now. Lastly was that all of the shops have already stated to gear up for Christmas with decorations being some of teh first items for sale as you walk through the door.

We too have added our Christmas goods slider image to our homepage with a relevant message on it even if I do say so myself.

Christmas product selection

The clocks have gone back this weekend and so with the days turning to night much earlier all our attention must turn to Christmas because it is a matter of just a few weeks away now. Presenting your customers with little gifts to show them how much they are appreciated is never a wrong thing to do. Admittedly it is extremely difficult to quantify the positive impact on sales against the negative impact on cash-flow of giving gifts at Christmas but in a time where the very notion of customer loyalty is very much on the decline a handy reminder of your generosity staring at them from their desks cannot possibly hurt.

The other thing that is now a very good idea is to send them a good old fashioned Christmas card through the post, Ten years ago your card would probably have just got lost amongst all of the other cards they received but now a physical card stands out from the crowd and if you are clever and get the cards to land on their desks within the first few days of December your companies name will be on show right up to and into the first day back in the new year. 

Attrracting new customers is most businesses primary focus and where they aim all of their marketing but keeping existing customers is just as if not more important. If the total cost of a card is around £2.00 including the postage but it keeps a client for another year that sounds like £2.00 well spent to me. It's time to stop thinking about about what you're going to do and start doing it.

Finally solved network problem after Windows 10 Creator update!!

When I initially upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7 all was perfectly hunky dory thank you. My Mac could see and talk to my PC and vica versa. Both machines have gigabit ethernet cards and my router has gigabit ports as well so network traffic was fast and furious. Then I made what was seemingly a sensible decision to install the "Creator" update for Windows 10 as I belive that from a security point of view it is important to install all updates and patches when they become available. Little did I know that from that moment on my Mac would no longer be able to see or connect to my PC. Further experiments on my part showed that using the wired ethernet connection my PC could see my Mac and connect to it but not the other way round. Needless to say many, far too many hours were spent turning firewalls off and back on again, chnaging the actual leads to the router etc and of course googling every conceivable phrase to describe the problem. More frustrating still was that if I used the wireless connection on the PC then suddenly the PC would appear when I browsed the network on the Mac and so for the last few months I have had to settle for that.

Last Friday though I had a few hours that I could once again devote to the problem and previous google searches had thrown up the snippet that the Creator update had wrecked the Master Browser function in Windows and a brief play with this did seem to have real promise. It's quite maddening that on Friday I did 3 things that either individually or collectively have solved the problem totally and I am now back with my full gigabit connectivity.

Firstly I discovered a post from someone that seemed to be an ex Microsoft programmer that made it clear I needed to disable something called SMBv1. SMB for those that want to know stands for Server Message Block and is a protocol that is commonly used in networking and is certainly the one used by my Mac to talk to my PC. Apparently by disabling SMBv1 it forces the computer to use the more secure SMBv2 and the even more efficient SMBv3. To do this you need to open a command prompt window with administrator prvileges and type the following 2 commands pressing enter after each one and then restarting the computer:

sc.exe config lanmanworkstation depend=bowser/mrxsmb20/nsi

sc.exe config mrxsmb10 start=disabled

Obviously what I should have done was see if this alone had solved my problem but me being me I started the process of installing the Windows 10 Creator Fall update and couldnt interupt it to check, silly boy. After the update fell over once and had to be restarted it did however install on the second attempt. The main reason for me wanting to install this update so soon after it had been released was I had noticed so many people complaining that Windows had broken the Master Browser in the previous update that I was hoping that they had fixed it in this one. A triumph of hope over experience I know. Once this had installed and I had restarted a couple of times I was keen to try my ethernet connection and it was at this moment a new problem reared its head. The ethernet connection would connect straight away but every couple of minutes it would keep the network connection but drop the internet and then the internet would come back but only for a couple of minutes before repeating the cycle. 

This was a new problem, the first thing to do was to make sure the latest driver was installed which Windows assured me that the adapter already had the best driver available. I did however go onto the manufacturer of the card's website and downloaded the same driver and installed that one instead. Still the same problem, damn it. So as a last resort I found a driver that was dated 2009 and was suitable for a 64bit version of Windows XP, I forced the installation of that driver instead of the latest one and hey presto all of my network problems have been solved, yaaayyyy.

I am writing this blog whilst drinking a glass of champagne, cos I bloody well deserve it!!

Well Deserved Champagne

Fidget Spinners 'R' Us

It seems that the must have item in every home at the moment is a "Fidget Spinner", something of a craze that until I tried one seemed completely pointless to me. The relevant phrase though is "until I tried one", something very weirdly satisfying and calming about having this strange object spinning around on your finger! 

What became clear though is that you need a good quality "spinner" to really get teh best out of it. Have a look at this one on our website:

Pure Copper Fidget Spinner

Either search for "Pure Copper Fidget Spinner" or for "SC00232459" and just think what a great promotional gift for your customers these would make for at Christmas this year. Certainly for me these are more effective than the good old fashioned stress ball and a much more quality gift feel to it. We have a large range of these must have gifts this year so if a copper ships wheel is not your thing how about one of these:

Unique Style Fidget Spinner

These are made from a copper alloy and can be either lasered or engraved with a logo, search for SC00231835 for all the details. Just remember that whatever else you do this Christmas make sure you keep your customers spinning!!

Before and after

A few years ago marketing guru's in America claimed that you should change your logo every few years and I thought at the time it seemed a bit extreme but my toils over the weekend might just have convinced me otherwise. 

Having succumbed to much pressure from the wife I very reluctantly put my old decorating clothes on and opened a tin of paint for the first time in many years. I loathe deocrating personally as I spent most of my teens doing it rather than getting out enjoying myself. I have to say though that the result does appear to be a spectacular improvement as this picture illustrates:

Before and after

Unfortunately I might well be a victim of my own success, aaaarrrrgghhh!!

However maybe it's time you consider doing a similar thing to your own brand and see if you can achieve a similarly spectacular improvement in your company's image.

If any of the following are true then it really is time to act:

  • Your brand has changed its name.
  • Your company has modified its service or product offerings.
  • You haven't changed your logo in over a decade.
  • Your current logo was not professionally designed and could be improved.

Any of those ring true? If so come and talk to us and revitalise your company image.

It's October already!

Where has this year gone to? In exactly 12 weeks time it will be Christmas again and I've only just gotten rid of the excess packaging from the last one, and I mean the wrapping paper not the excess packaging I put on personally. It's quite incredible but every year I do my charity bike ride around mid Septemvber and every year when I go it's still the end of summer but when I get back just typically 5 days later it is quite definitely autumn. It seems that the trees pick just those 5 days to shed all their leaves, amazing. I know everybody says it and I know the theorys that attempt to explain it but every year goes by quicker than the last one.

At the moment we have our Halloween / November the 5th slider active.

Halloween

It won't be long now until I need to change this for a much more Christmassy one. The industry has changed so much in recent years with the number of companies sending physical Christmas cards declining every year in favour of eCards. The numbers though are still very impressive, the UK sends more cards per person than any other nation, an average of 33 each. Greeting cards are stocked in more retail outlets than any other product with one in six retailers offering them for sale.

The very first commercial Christmas card was invented in 1846 by Sir Henry Cole who was the chief organiser of the Great Exhibition, pioneer of the penny post and founder of the V&A Museum. One of his first Christmas cards that he sent to his grandmother recently sold at auction for £22,500, wow. His first card however was a bit controversial because it pictured several people holding glasses of wine thus associating the Holy Christmas and alchohol which many deemed offensive.

The greeting card industry is still worth £1.75 billion per year with Christmas cards accounting for over 60% of all cards sold so perhaps it's a bit early to be consigning them to the annuls of history just yet. Maybe the corporate Christmas card will make a comeback soon, I can only hope so.

What a weekend

Well I say, what a great weekend. Saturday which was just a good day that I managed to get lots of little jobs done around the house and my daughters new car plus some eBay work finished off with a few of us going up to a place in London called the Munich Cricket Cllub. This took me back to the days when we visited DRUPA in Dusseldorf. DRUPA is the biggest printing exhibition in the world and happens currently every four years. Apart from the vast array of new printing machinery on view the main highlight (for me anyway) was what we referred to as the Oompah tent. An enourmouse marquee in a square in the centre of the exhibition where very buxom ladies served beer in litre steins and pork knuckle by the 1000's and the Oompah band played loud and long. I dont ever recall them doing Waterloo before!

Waterloo from Roger Oxford on Vimeo.

Sunday was a real treat, I ended up at Duxford Aerodrome for the annual Battle of Britain airshow where so many old warbirds have been so lovingly restored and kept flying so that video clips like this one can still be taken.

Lancaster from Roger Oxford on Vimeo.

Truly amazing sights and sounds. Waterloo by Abba being played by an Oompah band and the incredible sound of 4 Merlin engines singing in harmony.

Even without the airshow Duxford is a wonderful place to visit and the aircraft etc on display are really awe inspiring.

I just hope next weekend can live up to this one.

 

 

Storm Aileen batters bike ride

I've ridden my bike in some fairly gruelling conditions before but never have I struggled to only average 10mph between Calais and Boulogne. That was thanks to the effects of Storm Aileen. For quite some time actually starting our chariry bike ride on the bikes was seriously in question, all sorts of contingency plans were being put into place to get 106 riders and their bikes from Calais to Le Touquet by train as constant wind speeds of 28-40mph and gusts of up to 65mph were forecast for the coast road to our destination on te first day.

The road out of Calais

Because everyone really wants to do the whole ride we decided that so long as we kept together in small groups and were wary of the conditions we would give it a go, anyway how bad can a little bit of wind make it!! Brutal doesn't even come close, on a route that I have done a few times before always being able to average 15mph plus even without the aid of any peloton, storm Aileen made 10mph in a group a real struggle. The point was really rammed home when at the top of the climb pictured above there is a normally glorious descent that makes the climb worth every pedal stroke. But on Wednesday the wind was so strong and against you that to achieve a speed in double figures down hill you actually needed to pedal quite hard. The overall effect was that the 25 miles between Calais and Boulogne was actually just one long 25 mile climb with varying degrees of difficulty from hard to almost impossible. Even though we turned inland a bit from Boulogne to Le Touquet for the last 20 miles, a 45 mile ride that should have taken just under 3 hours actually took almost 5.

The physical effort that day 1 of the ride extracted from everyone affected day 2 and a relatively easy 100 miles (if thats even possible) was made to seem like double that. It was just simply a matter of survival and when the hotel in Amiens came into view it was one of the loveliest most welcome sights I have ever experienced. A very good nights sleep and an enjoyable breakfast later and suddenly all is right with the world again and with the usual exception of being rather saddle sore I was looking forward to completing the last 108 miles of the ride. Probably mainly psychological but I felt much stronger on the last day of the ride and enjoyed those last miles. As we ended up in Reims it seemed only fitting to have a little glass to celebrate the achievement and also the considerable money raised for an excellent cause.

Just finished

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