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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 28th May 2012

Should mobile phones be banned from classrooms?
The chief inspector of schools is calling for their prohibition, says Catherine Bennett, and many teachers heartily concur. But this problem isn't limited to children. When it comes to being distracted by phones, parents are just as bad: they blithely tap away during meetings or meals. Politicians are the worst offenders. It's becoming ever more common to see MPs "curled over their phones and iPads in the chamber or tweeting incessantly", presumably in the belief that this "multi-distractedness is a token of cool super-modernity". David Cameron's inability to stop fiddling with gadgets even extended to the Royal wedding, during which he apparently used a quiet moment to text Jeremy Clarkson. A few aisles away. David Furnish seemed to be likewise engaged next to his partner, Elton John, who looked on with that expression of "blank indulgence routinely adopted by people whose companions" indulge in such rude behaviour. How can we expect children to behave better with their phones' when we set them such a bad example?

Catherine Bennett
The Observer

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Sat 26th May 2012

Thousands of UK websites are now in breach of a law that dictates what they can log about visitors.

European laws that define what details sites can record in text files called cookies came into force on 26 May.

Cookies are widely used to customise what repeat visitors see on a site and by advertisers to track users online.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it would offer help to non-compliant sites rather than take legal action against them.

Action plan

The regulations say websites must get "informed consent" from users before they record any detailed information in the cookies they store on visitors' computers.

Among websites that have complied with the law, getting consent has involved a pop-up box that explains the changes. Users are then asked to click to consent to having information recorded and told what will happen if they refuse.

UK firms have had 12 months to prepare for the change and the ICO has spent much of that time reminding businesses about their obligations.

The ICO has also updated its policy to allow organisations to use "implied consent" to comply. This means users do not have to make an explicit choice. Instead, their continued use of a site would be taken to mean they are happy for information to be gathered.

However, it was a "concern" for the ICO that so many sites were not yet compliant, said Dave Evans, group manager at the ICO who has led its work on cookies in the last 18 months. However, he added, it was not necessarily easy for companies to comply with the laws because of the amount of work it involved.

On busy sites, he said, an audit of current cookie practices could take time because of the sheer number of cookie files they regularly issue, monitor and update.

Mr Evans said the ICO was expecting sites that were not compliant to be able to demonstrate what work they had done in the last year to get ready.

Fines for non-compliance were unlikely to be levied, he said, because there was little risk that a non-compliant site would cause a serious breach of data protection laws that was likely to cause substantial damage and distress to a user.

It was planning to use formal undertakings or enforcement notices to make sites take action, he said.

"Those are setting out the steps we think they need to take in order to become compliant and when we expect them to be taking those steps," he said. "If they comply with one of those notices or sign one of those undertakings they are committing to doing this properly and that's the main point."

As well as advising firms, the ICO has also issued guidance to the public that explains what cookies are, how to change cookie settings and how to complain if they are worried about a site's policy.

Source: BBC Technology Online

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 9th May 2012

J C Ivison are a well known florist in Lichfield and the shop has been in the Ivison family since 1932. They cater for all floristry requirements from weddings to events, funerals to corporate events and every day occasions like birthdays etc.

Ivison The Lichfield Florist has asked Discus to provide them with a new website and an online shop.

Thank you for choosing Discus.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 2nd May 2012

If everyone in the UK about to buy a desktop computer chose a laptop instead, it would save around £60 million in energy bills a year (energysvaingtrust.org.uk)

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 1st May 2012

Fed up with telecoms firms not offering broadband, villagers in Lanchashire are digging a 40-mile trench and laying down their own fibre optic able. The process is being managed by Broadband 4 the Rural North, a not-for- profit company, which is hoping to raise £1.8m to connect eight villages in the Forest of Bowland.

It will do this by selling shares to locals, and by charging a £150 connection fee and a £30/month service charge. The project has raised £300,000 so far - enough to begin the first phase, which will connect 400 homes "It's going to be a bit like leaving the Dark Ages, "said resident Elaine Drinkall.

Orignally printed in the week

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 1st May 2012

When marketing manager Martine Wright heard that London had won its Olympic bid, on 6 July 2005, her first thought was: "How am I going to get tickets?" Having spent the evening celebrating, she spent an extra ten minutes in bed the next morning, and missed her usual train, say's Matthew Pinsent in The Times. Then there were problems on the Northern Line, which meant that, at Old Street, She had to either get a bus or take the Circle Line. She chose the latter, and - seeing a train about to depart - ran to catch it. It was the last time she would ever run. Moments later, Shehzad Tanweer detonated his bomb. "There was a white flash," she recalls.

"It felt like being in a Tom & Jerry cartoon and being hit in the face with a frying pan." When she came round, it was dark, and the only sound was of people screaming. Trapped by debris, Martine lost three-quarters of her blood. Both her legs had to be amputated.

But she refused to give up on life: over the next few years, she learnt to walk on prosthetic legs, got married, had a son - and took up sitting volleyball. Now, she is hoping to represent the UK in this summer's paralympics. This, she says, may be the path she is meant to be on, and she feels lucky to be there. "it's the biggest sporting event on Earth, and it's coming to the city where I was born," she told The Sun. "What Londoner doesn't dream of being part of it?"

Originally printed in The Week

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Thu 26th Apr 2012

Social Media strategy aims to create an environment that can be tailored and maintained to establish a community revolving around a brand.

The use of Social Media allows companies to specifically target respective groups of customers/potential customers and enhance the value and experience of the brand/product/service for the customer. The means of this targeting method is free from unwanted clutter with content is completely manageable, thus separating any possible negative associations with the brand's online page.



The versatility of social media and its ability to generate new environments for customers to interact and engage with, allows the brand to resonate with the customer on a whole new level.

Relevance is the key to successful advertising and tailored marketing campaigns are the most effective form of advertising on the Internet, as seen with Coca Cola and Proctor and Gamble. These two companies participated in a 3-month trial relating to targeted click through advertisements. The effort taken to tailor marketing messages
to their audiences saw a 300% increase in the click through rates from advertisement to point of sale, i.e. website (Strategic Direction 2008).

The modern world of business is fast paced and a company that can predict change, or react to it quickly, is a successful one.
Social Media is paving the way as a revolutionary tool that organisations, big and small, can adopt easily whether it’s enhancing brand exposure or promoting sales to the world.

Social Mediums, such as Facebook, are phenomenally popular, boasting populations that exceed millions. 6.5 million UK users are recorded on Facebook each month and over 33% of the UK are members of Facebook (netnatives.co.uk, 2010).
This has increased the accessibility for organisations to reach their target audience, potentially making it easier than ever to convey their marketing messages.

Internet Search Engines have been big business, however, Frontier have observed the overall rate of return on investment (ROI), in search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo, has declined 10% during the past three quarters of 2010 (Figure 1). They have related the decline of ROI to the fact, pay per click advertising on these search engines is reaching a plateau of maturity.
As a result, Frontier expects significant test budgets, particularly for Facebook, to emerge in the final quarter of 2010 across their client base (Frontier 2010a).
Facebook has evoked a dramatic increase in Internet Advertisers in the last quarter of 2010, who are looking to capitalise on the large population Facebook has to offer (Frontier 2010a). Evidence, there is a wealth of interest in Social Media.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Thu 19th Apr 2012

It has been trumpeted as the "revolutionary" media that gave rise to the Arab Spring, the Iranian Uprising and the London Riots. In reality, says Simon Kuper, Twitter is a conversative force: like the computer itself, it's an "anti-revolutionary" device that keeps the world "quiet and peaceful". THat's not just because the tweets get global attention usually involve celebrity deaths, football or teenage heart throb Justin Beiber; It's because if you're at home watching a screen "you're probably not making a revolution". Right now a fifth of under-25-year-olds in the West don't have a job - a potentially combustible situation. Yet little is heard from them: online networking is the "perfect narcotic". Even those who do protest can't do without: Occupy Wall Street demostrators in New York's Zuccotti Park insisted on free wi-fi. It's the same in China: Its 300 million micro-bloggers "are arguably the greatest anti-revolutionary force on Earth". And why the recent fall in voilent crime? As some social scientists see it, potential criminals "are too addicted to their screens" to bother breaking the law.

Published in the week & the Finacial Times (Simon Kuper)

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 11th Apr 2012

An Indian Man who was seperated from his family when he was five years old, 25 years ago, has found them using Google Earth. Saroo Brierley was begging at a station in Khandwa when he inadvertently boarded a train bound for Calcutta, 900 miles away. He spent weeks trying to get home before being taken in by an orphanage. Though later adopted by an Australian family, he never forgot the slum neighboroughood where he grew up, and spent hours searching for it online. Finally he identifid some key landmarks on Google Earth, and last month he flew out to be reunited with his family.


Recently printed in The Week


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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Thu 5th Apr 2012

Due to the ever increasing cost of Outlook it is worth considering Outlook Web Access (OWA) over Outlook.

I recently used it for a few days to see what problems users may notice when using OWA over Outlook and here is what I found;

  • Spell Checker - The spell chcker isn't automatic so you have to press the button - no wavy red line.
  • Speed - Can be quite slow if not on local network to the server
  • Short Cut Keys - Some of the shortcut keys do not work - Ctrl>F(Forward), Ctrl>Z(Undo), Ctrl>A (Select All)
  • Reminders - They're hidden away up the top often i didn't realise one had popped up
  • Screesnhots - i'm a lover of inserting images from a print screen within my email messages - you cant do that.
  • Depending on how you work the followup task list is difficult to navigate and work with.
  • Very easy to close the window as its part of internet explorer and not a seperate program
  • The Up Arrow doesn't appear to work - this could have been a bug on my machine however.
  • Cant overlay calendars.
  • Cant copy & paste appointments
  • Cannot Drag emails to your calendar
  • Can't scroll around in calendar
  • Cannot sort by category in todo list
  • Cannot drag to follow up - you have to click.

These are only small problems really, and overall OWA is brilliant for working out of the Office but when compared to the Outlook Fat Client it has a lot of missing features that i've become so used to over the years that i dont think i could live without it.


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