# Saturday, 26 November 2011

Tesco are selling a Christmas pudding topped with gold leaf in the run up to this Christmas. The pudding costs £16 and is topped with real 24 carat gold. It looks quite nice but I’m not sure I would pay £16 for one.

posted on Saturday, 26 November 2011 10:23:06 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 25 November 2011

If you are living on a tight budget then you might want to eat more toast sandwiches. According to this article they are Britain’s cheapest lunchtime meal. The dish which was apparently popular in Victorian times costs just 7.5p to make. The recipe comes from the brilliant Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management which contains many recipe gems. Whether the toast sandwich is one of the better of them is up to you to decide. If you want to make one it consists of a piece of dry toast sandwiched between two slices of bread and butter and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. It doesn’t sound that appetising but is certainly cheap and cheerful.

posted on Friday, 25 November 2011 08:53:58 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, 24 November 2011

article-0-0ED3692B00000578-0_310x440article-0-0ED366B200000578-851_310x440Toy story makers have created a new range of clothing for adults. The clothes will be available in a limited number of Disney stores in the USA and will feature alien inspired tops and a Mr Potato-head hat. Looking at these outfits I’m not convinced it will be that popular.

posted on Thursday, 24 November 2011 10:36:44 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 23 November 2011

I get a bit sick of seeing the adverts for payday loans offering a quick fix solution particularly when you notice the small print at the bottom of the advert citing an interest rate of 300% APR or similar. Reading this article, it seems there is now a new type of loan targeting consumers that offers a 0% rate but only for 8 days. For the first 8 days of the loan period you can borrow a sum of money interest free, the catch of course is the interest rate after this period which is charged at 50p a day for every £100 borrowed. This equates to 448.3 % APR. There are no other hidden fees to take into account but I do wonder who takes on this type of loan.

posted on Wednesday, 23 November 2011 10:16:22 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 22 November 2011

As someone who relies upon Smartstamp to process my business mail the last few days have been what is best described as difficult and frustrating. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the service, Smartstamp is a subscription based service provided by Royal Mail that allows you to print your postage directly to your home printer. I use it in conjunction with my Royal Mail business collections in order to save me time queuing at the post office with several sacks of mail each day.

The usually reliable service has now been down for a period of 4 days, as I write this on Tuesday morning. It appears, although no one is completely sure, that Royal Mail decided to carry out a system upgrade of their website some time after Friday night. This seems to have brought down not only most of the Royal Mail website but also the Smartstamp service, the online business accounts and the ability to print postage online. Whilst the lack of service is inconvenient at best and at worst means many small businesses are unable to function properly if at all, the main problem here appears to be lack of information.

Royal Mail are very active on Twitter, as are many of the customers complaining about the lack of service for the past 4 days. They still, however, fail to directly answer customer questions about when if ever the Smartstamp problem will be resolved. They allude to “problems with their website” which they “are working to fix” but do not directly mention the Smartstmap outage nor give any indication of when customers can expect the service to be up and running again. Likewise there is no mention of any problems with the service on the parts of the Royal Mail website that do still work only a generic message about technical difficulties. Whilst I appreciate Royal Mail are going to be very busy fielding queries from frustrated customers, the main point here is that communication is the key. If customers are aware the service will be unavailable for a number of days, it is no less inconvenient but it does allow them to plan for the outage and make alternative arrangements, to simply ignore the issue and not give any timeframe as to when it will be resolved is a fail of epic proportions and not what I would expect from a company that is meant to specialise in communications.


Update as of 15.00 Tuesday afternoon.

I have just received the following email from Royal Mail below stating the current situation. It really is unforgivable that it has taken 4 days for them to even acknowledge that there is a problem and inform customers. In my opinion this should have been sent out as soon as they were made aware of the issue. I wonder how many more days of no service we have to look forward to.


Dear Customer,

As you may be aware, we are still experiencing technical difficulties with our SmartStamp® product on our website and the service is not currently available.

We are really sorry for the problems you may be encountering and the inconvenience this may be causing. We are still working to fix the issues with SmartStamp® and our website as quickly as we can.

We will send out a further email to let you know as soon as SmartStamp® becomes available again.

Again, we would like to apologise for the inconvenience this is causing our customers. Until SmartStamp® becomes available, customers with urgent mailings can take their mail to their nearest Post Office branch which can be found at: www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-finder.


The SmartStamp® Customer Service Team
Royal Mail

posted on Tuesday, 22 November 2011 10:41:18 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

article-2061484-0ECFC15F00000578-856_468x286This is interesting its a coating that can repel water. Called NeverWet it could have a number of uses such as keeping shoes and clothes dry. It can be immersed fully in water and still allow the coated object to be bone dry afterwards. NeverWet is a superhydrophobic spray which actively repels water. it has been developed by Ross Technology who were looking at the solving the problem of rusting pipes under the sea. The coating is impervious to any liquid substance and deflects moisture leaving no trace on the surface. You can see here the example of a pair of shoes after the wearer has jumped into a muddy puddle. The treated shoe emerges unstained and dry whilst the untreated show is clearly covered in mud. It can also be used to treat gadgets, for example in an experiment an iPhone treated with the substance was left in a bowl of water for 30 minutes and came out unharmed. My only question is where can I get this product.

posted on Tuesday, 22 November 2011 08:43:22 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 21 November 2011

Have you ever worked out much time you spend commuting each year? The average it seems is five weeks a year. That’s based on research by the TUC on official figures from the Office for National Statistics. People working in London have the longest commuting time with the average worker taking 277 hours a year travelling to and from work, that’s about 37.8 minutes per journey. Those in the East of England and the South East have average commuting times of 205 hours a year with workers in Northern Ireland and Wales having the shortest commutes of 164 hours and 166 hours. I would also  be interested to see the average amount of time workers waste being delayed by late running and cancelled transport particularly during the winter months when in some areas the transport system seems to break down completely.

posted on Monday, 21 November 2011 10:54:14 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, 20 November 2011

This is interesting it’s a wedding dress made of human hair. The dress has been made by seamstress Thelma Madine using 250 metres of hair extensions. It also includes 1500 crystals and 12 underskirts. it certainly is unusual although perhaps a little garish for bridal wear. When you think it took a team of 8 people 12 days to make, you can’t help but admire the work that has gone into it.

posted on Sunday, 20 November 2011 10:54:10 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, 19 November 2011

This is interesting it’s a papier mache wine bottle. The bottle has been invented by British inventor Martin Myerscough who is currently in talks with supermarkets who he hopes will use his invention. Called the Greenbottle it is made completely of papier mache meaning it has a carbon footprint of just 10% of the equivalent glass wine bottle. It is biodegradable so you can compost it and it should break down within a few weeks. The bottle itself does not actually come into contact with the wine but includes a plastic liner within the box which is presumably not recyclable, similar to the idea of cardboard wine boxes which are currently available. It’s an interesting idea but I wonder how many wine manufacturers will choose to put their wine in paper bottles rather than glass ones.

posted on Saturday, 19 November 2011 10:36:58 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback