Facebook Fail

18 Mar 09

facebook-fail1

Last week my Facebook profile switch over to the ‘new’ layout as announced. With any new change I gave it chance, until today. As you see in the screenshot above and for 2 more pages all updates where from one person, just another example of a Facebook Fail.

Facebook is starting to get complex to use and this new version tries to ‘highlight’ what I might be interested in instead letting me control what I want to see. I think it good the Facebook is trying new ideas to present large & constanly changing content, but they need to be gradually with small improvements.

Google is a great example, with Google Labs Experimental Search, users can opt in to be the guinea pig for potential new features for Google search results page. The Google Search Quality blog post was a great read about how much time is spent improving what Google currently offers, instead of a complete overhaul. In short the KISS rule is always best (sorry about the pun).

What are your thoughts on the ‘new’ facebook redesign?

Nightwish Live

18 Mar 09

nightwish-live-london

I headed out last week to O2 Academy Brixton to see the Finnish symphonic metal quintet band; Nightwish. Nightwish are currently on their Dark Passion PlayWorld Tour which started back in October 2007. I missed out on the floor tickets, so I ended up in the sitting area, which turned out to be alright. The support act was Swedish industrial metal band; PAIN.

Nightwish put on an amazing concert which was filled with many pyrotechnics! They played songs from both their new & older albums, even though the leader singer Anette Olzon replaced dismissed singer Tarja Turunen back in early 2007. In my mind they left the best song till last – Wish I Had An Angel.

Check out the photo gallery.

Twitter power – the booking of Michael Jackson Tickets

13 Mar 09

michael-jackson-tickets

I will admit first up that I am not an avid Michael Jackson fan, but I have been told its a show of a lifetime and if I ever get the chance I shouldn’t miss it.

I never thought this opportunity would ever arise to see a solo entertainer of 13 Grammy Awards & 13 number one singles perform, but low and behold earlier this month Michael Jackson announced he was putting on 10 shows at the 02 Arena in London.

Later that week I signed up to be included in the pre-sale of the highly sort after tickets. I headed to ticketmaster.co.uk just before 7am on Wednesday and eagerly waited to purchase tickets. From the word go I had problems, waiting over 15mins in a virtual queue and then being kicked out at the last minute or after waiting to be told the tickets have been sold out, very frustrating.

Searching through Google & news websites to see if the pre-sale tickets had been sold out for all 10 shows didn’t yield any results. Twitter on the other hand was giving constant updates of other people struggles & triumphs of scoring tickets.

It finally clicked in my head for the first time the power of near to real time updates of Twitter tweets. It was the first time I had ever used twitter in this way, it reassured me that I wasn’t the only one with issues. ticketmaster.co.uk started adding new unannounced shows from 10am onwards and this was communicate instantly on Twitter.

I instantly started booking process when new shows dates were being posted, I waited impatiently. After 5hours of trying I succeeded in purchasing 2 tickets. The seats are on Level 1 which seem to be a good distance from the stage. After Twittering my success of scoring tickets I received a reply from a stranger stating how lucky I was & to enjoy the gig. Wow! This was such a nice surprise! I now see Twitter from a difference and quite useful angle.

All up Michael Jackson is putting on 50 shows stretching all the way to February 2010. I thought £75 a ticket was on the upper side of reasonable, but tickemaster.co.uk charged an obscene £20 booking + postage fee for two tickets. It has been reported even AEG Live, the event organisers have decided to rip off fans by charging £500+ for ‘premium’ seats.

Aug 19 is quite a number of month away so I hoping it will turn out to be the show of a lifetime. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for the latest.

September

04 Mar 09

september-singer-petra-marklund

My Saturday night started with Gay Bingo at Institute of Contemporary Arts,  with a bunch of friends. Arriving an hour before hand was a good idea, the line to get in was huge just to play bingo. The night was nothing like I was expecting, hosted by Jonny Woo a drag artist as they call him, it was full of unexpected events & random costumes throughout the evening. Each bingo game took ages to play, in just over 3 hours we only completed 3 games!

Having friends with connections always helps, getting into Heaven was a breeze, we were able to head straight in without lining up wooohoo!! I made sure I was close to the stage just before September was about to perform. I was pleased that Heaven wasn’t packed shoulder to shoulder as when Lady GaGa performed the previous month. The Swedish singer, Petra Marklund better known by her stage name September is widely known for her dance smash hit ‘Cry for You‘, put on a great performance. She came across as friendly and genuinely enjoying herself which made it a great night out.

Check out the pix.

Job Update + Google Mobile Sync

24 Feb 09

nokia-95-8gb-google-sync

Im happy to say that I found a job, its on the other side of London town and I’ll be starting in a few days. The contract is only a few week long,  creating HTML email campaigns & attending to website updates. I am glad something finally came up as I was started to get bored at home.

One task I did attempt in my jobless period was updating the firmware on my Nokia N95 8GB phone. After backing up all my contacts & settings I proceeded to install the updates, then I loaded all my contact & settings back on, things didn’t go as planned. Many, many hours later which now became the early morning I had given up trying to retrieve my contacts.

To ensure I would never lose my contact again I did some research and came up with three options:-

  1. PC Suite – software the comes with the Nokia N95 8GB phone. One major downside is that doesn’t work on a Mac.
  2. iSync – comes bundled with Mac OSX. To be compatible with my Nokia N95 8GB phone a plugin is required. iSync ties in with Address Book, iCal & MobileMe, none of which I currently use. This was a viable option which I considered.
  3. Google Mobile Sync – earlier this month Google Mobile Sync was announced making it possible to sync your address book & calendar from a number of selected phones (iPhone, BlackBerry, Nokia, Sony Ericsson & Windows Mobile) with  Gmail & Google Calender of which use both.

Even though Google Mobile Sync is still in beta and the Nokia N95 GB  supports syncing contacts only I decided to give it ago. After the longish step by step guide to configure all the settings it worked  first go! I was quite impressed with the speed  and to my surprised it even copied the photo for each contact, if  supplied.

The Crisis of Credit

22 Feb 09

I come across some great articles mainly to do with web development, recently I have started to keep track of them using delicious.

This animation by Jonathan Jarvis explaining the current credit crisis in simple terms did an outstanding job, so much so I am even blogging about it. I can’t start to imagine how many hours it took to research, plan & animate this video.

Its quite long at 11 minutes but you would want it to keep going after you have watched it, as they animation concepts used are easy to grasp and well polished. Reading some of the comments on Vimeo, this over simplification version of events is missing a few important factors. Overall being such a complex topic with many parties involved I think Jonathan Jarvis and his animation skills have done a marvelous  job to spell out the basics of the underlying issues that have brought us to the current state of the global economy.

Opening a UK Bank Account

17 Feb 09

UK Bank Logos

Before I headed over to the UK, I had many conversations with people on various aspects of moving to the UK, setting up a UK bank account always prop up, it seemed not to be a straight forward task. Since I wanted to come over and work straight away I did some research. I found quite a number out dated  forum posts of people dealing with UK banks, some had countless problems while other didn’t have any hassles.

Proving who you are to open a UK bank account is easy; as a passport is sufficient, the second and most difficult part is proving your UK address. Since I just arrived I only had my rental agreement which apparently wasn’t good enough, I needed to produce a utility bill or a UK bank statement from any British bank to open an account. Here are few of my experiences with the banks over here:

  • HSBC & Citibank – Before heading off to the UK I inquired at HSBC & Citibank branches in Sydney to if they could help me setup a UK bank account. Unfortunately they don’t provide this service, as their ‘officers around the world don’t communicate with each other’. However, both banks did notify me if I had a cool $500,00.00+ lazying around  they could help me sort out an account. So its true, money does talk.
  • Lloyds TSB – I wanted to come over already prepared with a UK bank account, I used a third party company, FastTrack UK to open an offshore bank account on my behalf with Lloyds TSB Offshore located in the Isle of Man. FastTrack UK charges around AUD$200 (Nov 08) to open the account on your behalf and include a few extras, the only useful item was a Gold Membership to hostelworld.com.  I was setup with an account & visa debit card which I collected from the branch once I arrived in London. The only downside is after 3 months  a hefty monthly account fee of £7.50 kicks in. Even though this was an expensive option I am glad I went through with it.
  • Abbey – Went into my local branch on a Saturday and they where unable to help me, so that was the start and end of them.
  • Barclays – They made a great first impression, don’t think I have even been into a more helpful bank in my life, this happened on multiple occasions too, which is rare in my experience as a customer of any bank. Somehow  they could open a bank account without proving my address (have no idea how they got around this), a passport was sufficient. It seemed too good to be true, but 30mins later I had all my account details and it was already to use. Almost 3 months down the track I still haven’t received my debit card with enables me to withdraw fund & use internet banking, but they where able to send me a cheque book without a hitch. So im still waiting for this account to be fully setup. Ill keep you updated on this one.
  • Nationwide – These guys are the world largest building society with over 15 million customers. One of the main features of there account were transaction abroad didn’t incur any fees (the standard rate is around 3% for each transaction). Since I was planning to travel this was ideal. I handed over my £100 pounds (which was required) to open the account and used my statement from my offshore account to prove my address. A week later my card arrived and my account was open. To my surprise they didn’t issue me with visa debit card to use aboard, instead it was a connect card (similar to an EFTPOS card in Australia) which can only be used in the UK and doesn’t allow any internet purchases. I have to meet their list of requirements for the next 7 months before I can apply for visa debit card. Not sure if I will jump through all their hoops to get there fee free visa debit card.

Nationwide were the clear winners, but without a visa debit card the account is useless to me. Looks like ill be keeping my Lloyds offshore account until things get sorted out with Barclays. I could have tried more banks but as you see from my experince things do take time. Ill keep you posted on any updates.

East London + Valentines Day Party

16 Feb 09

Valentines Day Part @ Shoreditch House

I finished up at my job at News International at the end of Jan 09 and been looking for work since. The market over here is very tough and to making it more of a challenge contract work is harder to find. Things did look up towards the end of last week, so I hoping something comes my way shortly.

Apart from sleeping in most days during the week I ventured out to East London with a friend on Friday afternoon. East London is serviced mainly by the DLR (Docklands Light Railway), the trains are computer control hence there is no driver on board, we sat right at the front of the train :-).

First stop was Canary Wharf – this the financial  district hub of London, all large national & international banks can be found here. Canary Wharf is home to some of the tallest building in the UK, the skyscrapers are a complete contrast from central London as there are very few tall buildings around.

Next stop was the O2 formerly known as Millennium Dome, these days it used for concerts and includes, restaurants, bars & cinema complex. The 02 is quite dead during the day when no events are being held, similar to Homebush Bay area back home.

We headed to Southwark to the bank of the Thames River and visited the TATE Modern. I didn’t understand most of the artworks & sculptors and got bored very quickly. We cross the Thames River over the London Millenium Footbridge to St Paul’s Cathedral.

I was quite lucky to be invited to come along to Valentines Day Party at the trendy private members club, Shoreditch House. Even though it was a chilly night in the single digits the outdoor 16m heated pool was the highlight of the night. I didn’t go for a swim but enjoyed the rooftop amostphere with backdrop of the night sky of East London.

Photo Gallery of East London. Until next time… the world is waiting for you.

London – Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow

02 Feb 09

Snowing in London

Yesterday evening it start to snow, which continued today. This was a first time I have ever seen snow falling from the sky. All the streets & parks are covered in white fluffy snowflakes making it quite pretty.

Majority of buses, trains & airports were suspended due to the adverse weather condition. It quite rare for snow to fall in London, hence transport doesn’t quite adapt to the weather conditions very well. Quite a number of shops (ie Barclays around the corner) were closed as people we unable to get to work. It wasn’t to chilly despite it was snowing, which I was quite surprised at.

Punting around in Cambridge… well, not quite

25 Jan 09

Cambridge, UK

Had a hectic and a week of work, work & work. Headed out of London today with a friend to see my first city from away from the big smoke…. Cambridge. Its an easy 45min direct train trip from central London. I am sure your well aware of the prestigious Cambridge University, according to Wikipedia its the 2nd oldest University in the English speaking world and home to the oldest printer & publisher in the world. This year its celebrating 800th anniversary.

The main train station is a little away from the town centre, but not too far. It seems like town is based around the University & canals. Cambridge has wide open street, is surrounded by spacious green parks, the crisp clean air is inviting & clam compared to the hustle & bustle in London.

Had no idea what a punt or putting was until today; its pretty much a flat boat (punt) and putting is where a person stands up and steers  the boat by levering a pole into the floor of the canal to move the punt, Wikipedia does a better job explaining. We had a pleasant day wondering around the town. Took a few pictures too.

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