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Archive for the ‘FSB’ Category

The Summer of 2015 and a new Phone

Lots going on right now…

izmir[4]After what seems like a lifetime as IT Director and National IT Chairman of the FSB, I’ve decided to give it a miss. The reasons aren’t simple and include changes in the FSB itself – it is simply not the organisation I joined. Every year for the past 14 years, I’ve re-applied for the post and have never been opposed.

I’ve had a rarely- equalled freedom to take things in the direction I’ve wanted IT to go with unqualified support from the other directors. This year, the job role and authority changed, in my view in the wrong direction and when it came to putting in the papers I just could not bring myself to doing it. At the time, I didn’t know if anyone else was going for the role as this was handled externally. I wrote in to decline and left it at that.

GibraltarI’ve only just found out that in fact someone did go for it – so perhaps it’s as well I stepped down – keeps my unopposed record intact if nothing else. Hah!

Dell Tech ThinktankThe role has been great fun and has helped me travel to Microsoft’s HQ in the USA, UK and Brussels, Google’s European and Irish offices and the Dell Thinktank in Amsterdam to name but a few. I’ve made friends with the EU ESBA team and travelled with them to Brussels, Ireland, Izmir and meetings at the top of the rock in Gibraltar where I’ve met with Gibraltar luminaries and learned so much about the place (as well as discovering what a pain the Spanish are being over there).

Would-beI’ve vice-chaired a multi-national EU team representing many nations, I’ve met Prime Ministers (and would-be Prime Ministers)  and countless ministers, been to Numbr 10 and the House of Commons many times, I’ve met stars of stage and screen, visited the various offices of Microsoft, Dell, Google and so much more – and now it is time for a break.

And so we’re planning a long summer in Spain, something we should have done a long time ago because Britain is NEVER going to have a fine summer whereas it is odds-on that when we stop over there until autumn, we’re unlikely to see more than a couple of days of heavy rain. Lovely.

BrusselsBut first, having just finished (more or less) work on Hollyberry Cottage which is now occupied through to the autumn, we’re working on Willow Cottage with a view to clearing the place out in the next few weeks (to rent as it happens) before we head off to the sun complete with cats. I am, accordingly, covered in paint.

Google - Peter McAvoyMeanwhile the change has prompted me to look at phones! My last contract phone was the excellent Samsung S4 and I had planned to move onto the S6, but recently, two things happened to the phone – firstly the chrome started to come away from the front a little and secondly, being someone who uses LOTS of apps, I found myself running out of internal memory (even though the Samsung can use external memory for Apps (I have a lot)– they still eat up a good chunk of the internal and limited memory) and having seen that Samsung are not entirely invincible I decided to have a look around, concentrating on features rather than name.

ToyahIt just so happened that a good and knowledgeable friend of mine had been trying out a Chinese phone and I asked him how the new phone was going – he replied saying that it was so good he’d bought more of them! I decided to investigate. I sold the Samsung to a friend who will love it…  and sent off my order for the new phone.

Now, in order to do this justice, you really are going to have to turn a blind eye to the name of the phone.. it’s called a Zopo (Mind you, even some of the big names sound silly – did you know that LG were originally called “Lucky Goldstar”). Yes, Zopo sounds like a cigarette lighter… but once you get past that, lets’ see why this might be a good phone or indeed, an excellent phone.

ThinktankThe model Z999 Pro Lion Heart is big, bigger than the S4 and the new HTC, but just as thin. It has two SIM sockets – rather handy for, erm, travelling to Spain! It also supports external microSD and it just so happens I have a fast 64GB microSim. It has 3GB of RAM – three times earlier phones… and finally it has 32GB of internal Flash memory – and to power all of that, an octal processor! My DESKTOP has an octal processor!!

ZopoWith an HD screen who’s pixels are so small as to be utterly invisible, rendering text as good to the eye as a quality magazine and with superb colour rendering, this phone was off to a good start but here’s the thing – it is cheap enough to buy – hence I’m on a SIM-ONLY contract with THREE (I stayed with them for two reasons – firstly you can use your minutes overseas and even some data overseas and secondly, they have a little app that allows the phone to work where there is no signal as long as you have WIFI. I also have a 3 BOX that sits in the window sill and does the same thing  – gone are the days of having to drive up the hill to use the phone.

The Z999 is powerful, great looking and cheap – it does not have infra-red which was a shame (most phone don’t but the Samsung S4 and 5 do) but there are ways around that. It does however have a VERY sensitive GPS which unlike many phones, works indoors a treat. It also has Bluetooth, NFC, an FM radio, compass and all the other sensors and features (gesture recognition etc.) you’d nowadays expect with a top phone.

It came (very unusually) with a screensaver already fitted to the glass and a spare included. The camera is a particularly sensitive 14Mpx job and contrary to various articles it does have HDR.

Battery life is not stunning but then it isn’t with any of the top-end phones so I’ve ordered a rather large solar charger to take to Spain with me. I finished the long process of installing satnav maps for Britain and Spain – and then on a trip to Manchester I took some pics to check out the claims of it being better than the Samsung camera – I would say YES. Up to now I am VERY pleased with the phone.

FSB Annual Dinner

One Great George StreetThe FSB had it’s annual Chairman’s dinner last night at Number One Great George Street. Always interesting not least because of the amazing architecture, we had a couple of good speakers but sadly I could not tell you a word they said due to the acoustics in the room which produced a continuous echo whenever the speaker said anything. I figured it might be me so I asked others at my table and the response was always the same … can’t make out a word. We had a number of well known faces in politics such as Stephen Timms but I did note that Vince Cable was missing for once!

That didn’t stop it being a grand event so here are some pics. i left the Canon at home and the lighting isn’t ideal for a mobile phone so bear with me…

Firstly on the right, the hall where we had dinner – you can make this pictures larger by clicking on them. Below, remarks by a very enthusiastic Hushpreet Dhaliwal: ‘Enterprise for All’ at the drinks reception. I trieddozens of shots to get both her and FSB Chairman John Allan smiling at the same time… to no avail.


Why the Big Ben shot? Well, I was there anyway so rather than having a late drinking session (we were up the night before until 1am a the Indian restaurant) I cleared off after dinner and took some photos.

Big Ben

On the way back to the hotel I just happened to stumble on a bar selling Leffe!!


And that was that over for another year.

A Very Busy Week

Vince CableI’ve had an extremely full (and generally exciting) week which has only just finished last night – starting on Tuesday with a series of meetings in London. On Tuesday night I was part of the black-tie FSB annual Chairman’s Dinner -  a grand affair with guests including Vince Cable and George Osborne. Some of the titles were a tad over-powering, spending the early evening talking about gadgets with Carole Van Eyll – First Secretary – Political and Economical Affairs – Embassy of Belgium – how’s that for a mouthful.

George OsborneBecause the FSB was organising this, I had my own table which include amongst others – Robery Oulds of the Bruges Group (who I already knew from previous dinners) and Helen Woolley who is Director General of the Country Land and Business association – a cracking evening which ended up seeing me walking back to the hotel to clear my head!

Meeting placeWednesday after getting up at 6:30am to go into the London office to edit Vince Cable’s video I was buried away in meetings all day and then first thing on Thursday morning I headed off to Gibraltar as guest of ESBA – the European Small Business Association. The FSB is a member of and key player in ESBA.

Ski lift in GibraltarI’d never been to Gibraltar before and the schedule was packed but thanks to some extremely good weather and very early starts, that didn’t stop me bagging a boatload of photos of the place – which if you’ve never been before, as I hadn’t, is amazing not least because of it’s history.

The main board meeting was held, wait for it at a stunning meeting room at the very top of the Gibraltar Rock – I have to say, THE most excellent location you could imagine for such a meeting. We arrived by ski-lift but our Chairman and I chose (possible unwisely) the hard way back down – which took us half way around the country (it’s not a very big country) taking in some stunning views along the way but not before stopping to take pictures of the many resident Macaques. At the top of the rock we were warned to hide any plastic bags as they would surely be stolen by the monkeys (£500 fine for feeding them). In one of my many photos, a baby macaque is seen with his mum, cuddling someone’s shoe!

Resident BirdsResident monkeysYesterday, I sat through an excellent presentation on how the organisation uses Microsoft SharePoint as an Intranet – which was one of the main reasons I went in the first place and by lunchtime found myself with some free time, so once again a couple of us took off to check the place out.

I took every opportunity possible to take photos of the trip and most of them are available here. Next time you’re pondering on where to go for a few days holiday, if you’ve not been there already I would strongly recommend a trip to Gibraltar. We spent much of our time in meetings so I’m planning a trip back in the summer with Maureen when we’re at our place in Spain.

Another year as National IT Chairman

tmp4EE2I now start another year as the National IT Chairman of the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses). We had our elections recently and though I was not opposed there is always the option to vote “none of the above” and I’m pleased to say that only a tiny percentage chose that option in my case.  Great to know I have such good support and thanks to all concerned.

I’m expecting lots of questions this week from around the FSB as the new “cookie directive” comes into play – indeed I’ve just written a blog on the subject at BDAILY. Definitely worth a read if you have a website – once again regulation getting in the way of, as against enhancing business.

After a WEEK of meetings including the elections at our “National Council” I managed at the weekend to get a few hours developing new gadgets. I spent time at my pal’s place checking our the latest 3D printer and we had some great conversations leading to another idea for my Ethernet Thermostat… movement detection to take the stat to a whole new place – being able to automatically shut down to a lower temperature band in the absence of people – and vice-versa. This will only add to my already useful remote Ethernet Thermostat which has now been on test without issue for 3 weeks or more. I’ve ordered both infra-red and ultrasonic sensors so I can do a side-by-side comparison. Right now I’m learning all about re-using old computers with Ubuntu.

Pete Scargill