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Archive for February, 2011

Another eventful day

After an early start (over-enthusiastic alarm going off at 6.30am I headed off for Worcestershire – a leisurely 4-hour drive (for a driver with an attention span of around 2.5 hours).  I made good time until I actually got there – then sat in a traffic jam for half an hour! 

The purpose of the day was to do a video shoot (green screen) and to finalise a PowerPoint for the FSB’s forthcoming conference.

All went well for once – which was nice, apart from a little high  blood pressure. It turns out that the venue the conference is at, has a rather interesting restrictive policy regarding broadband. Not content with making a whopping charge for actually supplying broadband for 2 days (that’s not unusual – in the past we’ve had to order a BT line in and pay 3 months rent- though in recent years we’ve usually paid a lump sum and then used our own routers to share out the signal) this lot really take the cake – they want paying for every single computer or device that’s plugged into their networks – and they REFUSE to allow you to use your own routers – even down to refusing (if it’s even legally and technically possible) use of the like of MIFI units.  God knows how they’ll handle the public using WIFI sharing (tethering) to their iPads.

I’m keeping mum for now, but when this is all over I intend to detail charges and the name of the venue to alert others to this utterly unacceptable practice. Unbelievable. The venue is in Liverpool incidentally!  But apart from that, the day was pleasant enough and now… a local Indian I think…

Peter Scargill

You could not make this stuff up….

I can’t honestly remember a more stressful or more comical day than today… you couldn’t dream this stuff up…

After 2 days of struggling with dodgy broadband, I got up this morning, the plan being to hold a video conference at 11am. We use a package called ooVoo as it handle multiple video locations (Skype does that but not that well). All was ready. All I had to do was remind everyone to check the videos early. No matter what happened I was prepared – ORANGE broadband on one telephone line, FSBTELECOM on the other – what could possibly go wrong?

I should have known when I could not get through to the right people that it was all going to go wrong. So, with minutes to spare, people started coming into the video – all but the most important who could not get through.  It turns out that for various reasons my request for the fully commercial ooVoo had not gone through – and the free use of multi-video that ooVoo offered earlier this year was no longer an option. The program started asking for money and eventually we gave up and reverted to that old standby – the TELEPHONE CONFERENCE.

Can’t go wrong with that can you..  of course as I don’t even own a normal phone, it was SKYPE for me – but I have an account where I can make calls for a penny a minute – I NEVER run out of credit.

Only a couple of minutes later we were JUST about the start the conference when my wife Maureen came into my office with a message “the telephone guys are dismantling the post!!!!” -  I rushed outside and sure enough the crane is outside and they’re starting to take the post apart.  “What about the telephone lines” I asked. “Oh they’ll be disconnected for a few hours” came the reply.

I’ll miss out the bit about soaring blood pressure and profanities etc but needless to say, shortly thereafter the telephone guys went back off in their van, the pole intact.  I went back to my meeting, amazed. No doubt they’ll return at another inconvenient time to rob me of the chance to do my job. Between that and 2 days of no electricity only a couple of weeks ago – which led me to fit uninterruptable power supplies all over… so the broadband would work no matter what (well, who would expect the pole to disappear!!??)

And of course I’m doing all this running back and forth in the mud as our garden’s still not recovered from the farmer’s field overflows.

I wasn’t back in the meeting for 5 minutes and the phone went dead – no SKYPE credit. I’d neglected to think about the fact that it was an 0844 number and they don’t come into the normal cheap pricing bundle – I was getting hammered by the minute and my credit, enough to last weeks normally, evaporates in minutes.

This then, was the start of MY day today and it’s been like this all day – one episode after another. If I don’t have a heart attack today I’m good for another 20 years.

How was YOUR day….

(relax… deep breaths….)

Rupert Murdoch’s Daily–US ONLY–BBC didn’t seem to grasp

I’ve been sitting getting annoyed about the coverage that the BBC has given Rupert Murdoch’s “The Daily” when it’s not even available here as it’s US-ONLY.  Worse, they’ve closed the comments section so you can’t have a go at some of the more challenged writers who think the web is free… the BBC’s website certainly isn’t free – we pay for it in our TV licence. Frankly the website is the only interaction I ever have with the BBC as I can’t stand the radio programs (a choice of pseudo-intellectual crap or music and DJs to appeal to kids only) and it’s very rare I can find TV programs of worth (though I did like “Com Fly With Me” which sadly only lasted for 6 episodes).

“When will Murdoch realize the web that the web is designed for free content and that he cannot rule the world” – says one commentator.. why not? The BBC rule the UK along with BT – no matter what you do you can’t escape them – at least you don’t have to buy Murdoch’s papers! I wonder if the writer pays his license fee?

A Nice Evening in London

Peter Scargill with Vince Cable at the Federation of Small Businesse Annual Chairman's dinner in London 2011As promised, here’s a picture of the FSB’s annual Chairman’s Dinner in London…  a very pleasant evening… Vince Cable was the main speaker – I spent the evening talking to my table guests but not one to be shy, I made sure I got a decent photo with Mr Cable to add to my collection of politicians, now including Tony Blair, Michael Heseltine, David Cameron, William Hague just to mention a few.

My table consisting of various international ambassadors and we had an absolutely marvellous time. Not only that, but I’ve made new contacts out of it…. weather in London was marvellous…. what more could you ask for..


I’m guessing now that the weather is starting to improve, the stargazing community will be out in force, especially with the news that six exoplanets have been discovered in close orbit around a far-flung star, not that we’ve a hope of EVER actually getting near it…. 2,000 light-years should ensure that never happens…

Bring on warp drive I say!