Monday, November 7, 2011

Sheraton Heathrow Starwood conversation completes

So, as you see from my last few posts, I had a less than satisfactory stay at the Sheraton Heathrow recently. In this day and age it is easy to make a complaint that is seen by many and I will always utilise any methods I can to talk to businesses who don't meet expectations. How else are they to know if we don't say anything?

Sheraton Heathrow Hotel

I have now had a phone call from Stephen (Rooms Division Manager) at Sheraton Heathrow. This is good because it's shown me that they have taken the time on board to recognise my issues and to look to address them. He took the time to go over my comments and talk about each one individually. It wasn't a case of 'lets call this guest, chuck a free lunch at him and hope he goes away' type conversation, but more a very specific talk about they reasons and understanding behind each point I'd made.

I was happy that things had been addressed this way for the conversation, given that some issues were completely out of his hands and were a corporate decision (such as the wifi setup) and others we're completely on his plate (the musty old room smell). He also took control of the missing barman issue although thinking about it now, it could be the person he will talk to about it, that caused the issue in the first place (food and beverage manager) Anyway, point is... things have been concluded professionally and over the phone, when businesses now a days can so easily have a less human touch.

Time will now tell if there is another visit, if anything actually changes. Let's hope so. And time for me to get some positives on this blog :P

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

quick Starwood Update


So after my small rant someone at @StarwoodBuzz picked up the previous blog post and we exchanged a few quick supportive DM's:
Sorry to hear about your experience. We would like to follow up with management at the hotel. Can you DM us your stay information.

We are opening a file on this matter on your behalf. We will also follow up with the hotel to ensure your concerns are addressed.

(1/2) Hello, I've forwarded your comments to the hotel's management to assist us in resolving this situation for you. Please allow

(2/2) us up to five days for a thorough internal investigation and for an appropriate response to be provided to you.

So, all positive stuff. The 5 days begins from around Sat 29th 1054hrs but clearly I hope they can action this simple problem a bit quickly, just so as I know its been picked up. Even though the twitter stream is following 27601 twitter users they have done far better in communicating that the facebook page which only has 30,979 likes, so well done Twitter team :D

The facebook post went on before Twitter post and has had zero response :(

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hey Starwood Hotels! WTF?

I'm in the Sheraton Heathrow. This is the first Sheraton hotel I've stayed in since Pine Cliffs Sheraton in Portugal when I took my wife out on a beautiful and perfect stay. I was so impressed with the service and the stay that I thought this is a hotel chain that I want to stay in. I signed up to and thought I'll earn some nice points to take me forwards to staying with this chain again. Who doesnt want rewarding for their time. I stay in a hotel almost every week with work.. It's not a good life, in fact I'm starting to hate being away from home so much, so when I'm away I want to stay in a good place. I thought I was sorted with a Sheraton.

Wrong and wrong again.


The start was a slightly surly check in. This wasn't from a bloke but from a fair haired probably Polish girl from her name and accent. After I'd been ID'd and signed my soul over in the only way someone from eastern europe can make it sound, I was given a key card. I checked into room 1229 and on opening of the door was blasted by a whiff of staleness. Not a totally, oppressive smell but as I write this I can smell the mix of chemical cleaning and what ever the hell was split in here harshly mixed with the age of the room.

I quickly left the room to go do some work in the bar. I'm staying in a Sheraton so I figure hey they can provide wireless cause ... you know, wifi should be free and easy like in McDonalds or costa coffee etc, the places you walk into for nothing, spend a couple of quid but as a thank you for your loyalty you get some wifi access. No chance. My cost for what is a bed in a smelly room doesnt grant me access. A tenner might tho.... For an hour. I didn't sign up but instead just tethered my android and used the Three UK stream down here at probably more than the hotel would have offered anyway. But I digress somewhat as I went to the bar for work and a drink. There were a few covers in the bar area sat on the seats that looked kind of comfortable but there wasn't a barman to be seen. Was this a serve yourself bar? Sadly not..after about 4 or 5 mins of standing at the bar and walking in and out in front of reception someone suddenly appeared. As he apologised for keeping me waiting, I asked him why I had been left here waiting for someone to get me a drink. The answer was somewhat shocking in that he said he was 'training'! Standard reply fell out my mouth and it's what you are thinking.

I soon left the hotel to meet with colleagues and 'enjoyed' an average Indian in a local place that began with K. Yes, it as that memorable but either way it was walk able from the hotel. << update, it was The Karahi Express, Bath Road.

When I came back to the hotel, I went to the bar and sat down. This time the service was prompt and friendly as Thomaz and his trainee ( i think that's the right way round) served and chatted to the punters. I met with a guy called Sham. Very friendly Indian bloke, made the night in to a way more interesting one than it would normally have been stuck in a hotel bar. If you're out there mate, hope you and your family (inc. hamster son) are well ;)

He proceeded to tell me the crap service he'd had too. Not really what I wanted to hear but none the less, that's the way it is.

I went back to my scented room to hit the sack, had a shower and then went to brush my teeth. Hot water. Weird, maybe the tap is on the wrong way round, but no... This isn't two separate taps, this is a mixer and there is no way it's going to give me any cold water tonight.

Hey, no worries, I'll phone reception who at this time will be more than attentive. As the phone rings four, five, six times it's finally answered. Not with a, 'Hi How can I help?' but with a 'Hold the line please'

I'm now at breaking point. I just want to go to bed. I need to brush my teeth and have a glass of cold water, not be put on hold at 0100 hrs. Totally crap!

I now have to chuck some jeans on etc and go down to reception. Rant rant and I get two bottles of cold highland spring. Sorted........ Until I need to brush my teeth in the morning.

This will be the last time that I stay here and I strongly advise you not to stay here either as the choice on Bath road and the Heathrow area in general are far better than this place.

I truely hope that Starwood pick this up and come back to me on it. The irony of it all is that I've stayed up till 0200hrs to type is up in the room with the default Starwood channel on. It's telling me about how good 'W, Starwood, St Petersburg, Claudia Shiffer' is along with why it's great to stay in a Starwood. I agree with everything that they are saying.

Sadly from where I'm sat, it's nothing but bullshit.

From Drop Box

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Longer Battery life to the Xperia PLAY with Mugen?

So, a little over a month ago now, I got talking to Dmitry via @MugenBatteries.

Mugen Batteries Logo

I'd been talking about the Xperia PLAY battery life in general, considering it was a gaming phone and would have extended periods of gaming along with the normal web/SocMed and general SE permasync things I have set up. From my years with AllAboutSymbian, I'd heard of Mugen Batteries plenty before and indeed Steve did a fair few reviews on the site back that left me trawling through the comments in moderating. (Nokia E75 review / Nokia N97 review)

Anyway, I questioned about whether there really was that much of an improved life on the Mugen battery, as much as they were making out themselves at least, which was that their battery would last 2.4 times longer. As we know all too well now-a-days, Smartphones really pull battery power so when Mugen kindly offered to let me test one of the batteries out, I was all for it.

The data sheet for the battery reads as follows:

Cell Type Li-ION
Voltage 3.7v
Capacity (mAh) 3600
Battery Door Included
Original Battery Model 1500mAh

So as you can see straight away there is more than double the mAh in this battery and this is a few photos and comments about the cell itself and how its worked over the month.

First off, the service from Mugen was excellent. Simple account creation, followed by timely alerts of shipping etc. Top marks there guys.

The battery arrived through customs without delay and was packed as well as it needed to be

Mugen Delivery

One MAJOR plus point for me was the plastic casing looking after the battery. Normally, and I know you'll know what I mean here, when you buy electrical goods they are encased in skin slicing, finger removing, military grade security plastic cover. This battery was still in a well sized and safe plastic casing but it was of sufficient quality that it stay locked until it was simply prized open. Perfect for mail order items (though I appreciate this casing would be no use for store displays). I digress, but it did signify that Mugen were taking care of the products they sell.

Once the packaging was opened, there is a sternly written A4 sheet of instructions (so pay attention to them) ;)

The information was all about the initial conditioning of the battery. This created me my first issue. For the first 4 or 5 charges you need to leave it charging for 8 - 12 hours. No problem? Well, what happened was the battery lasted a couple of days straight out the box, on 24hrs a day. This then meant I had to wait for it to drain before I could charge it, and again the last 15% of battery power would come on at say, 0400hrs which meant I couldnt charge it prior to sleeping to let it fully drain before having to charge it so I had to actually 'TURN THE PHONE OFF'

Luckily though, this was just for the first 4-5 charges and then I could go back to my normal routine and really see how much I could stretch the battery.

Before I do that though, a little about the aesthetics. This battery is basically 2 standard batteries strapped together, so you are getting yourself some bulk right away. Have a look and see:

The standard 1500 mAh battery along side the Mugen 3600 mAh

Having a big fat new battery in place, a quick shake without the cover on to see how well it was seated, proved it was spot on as the battery didn't drop or even slightly move. Great stuff. What is also needed though with an increase in battery size is an increase in casing size. This was my biggest concern and the difference is very notable.

The style is identical other than text and the depth of the hole for the camera lens and flash

However, although this picture isn't the best angle, you can certainly see how much the casing stands up over the normal back cover

So, all that put back together, your Xperia PLAY will look like this:

Now if this was my Nokia N8 or an Xperia Arc or the likes, this would probably put me off considerably and move this battery to the draw for emergencies only, purely on its bulk. However on the PLAY, it could even be thought to improve the feel of the handset. I mostly felt this when I was gaming, as the whole unit itself felt more like a gaming device I was used to, the shoulder buttons that had felt a little close before, though clearly hadn't moved, actually felt more comfortable. This was good! There was still the bulk in the pocket though, so is it worth it over the standard battery? That really comes down to how long it will last under pressure.

As I first started testing the phone life the increase didn't seem to be as much as I was hoping to see from a 3600mAh battery. Although the phone very VERY slowly decreased in power over the week, this didn't seem to be blasting the standard battery away. However, as I travel a lot, I put the phone through plenty of different scenarios and soon found a good pattern to really getting a long life from this battery because the more I used it the longer it outlasted the standard battery doing the same thing.

So when I played a load of games on the train from the Sheffield to London (a 2h 20min trip) along with some Social Media and Music playing, I was amazed to see a very minimal drop in the battery percentage. With the standard battery on the same regular trip I'd be half spent.

I often stay over in London too and in those cases with the standard battery I would have to plug in late evening without doubt. With the Mugen battery I didn't even need to and it would still happily last the return trip up north with the day of business use in-between, more than doubling my former battery. A very positive outcome for those of you who travel a lot.

The true win came on a trip to the Lakes where I forgot my charger. Not an issue as even on 3 and struggling for a signal in the more remote areas, the phone battery finally ticked on to recharge needs a whole 5 days later! FIVE! And there are little me's who want to play on it all the time and then me who also wanted to play on it so it was getting some use along with a load of photos being taken. (this the former Liverpool owners pad on Windermere, complete with Liverpool Flag on pole)

But is the fatness trade worth it? Why not, when this battery costs $99, just pick up a cheaper spare 1500mAh and carry that instead? That's a good point and one I'd probably lean more towards if it made the phone bulky in a nasty way. But with the gaming side of this phone, the bulk works and I don't need to power down the phone and swap the back casing off mid travels (which is good, because removing the back case on the Xperia is a pain as it unmounts the SD card but that's a different conversation). As I showed the phone to the Xperia product manager, she agreed too that it gave it a very gaming unit feel and could be seen in a complimentary way.

I'm very pleased with the increase that you can get to this phone when using a Mugen Power Battery. If like me you travel a lot, it practically eliminates the need to take charging wires and spare batteries. I am confident too, that with the quality of the battery and Mugens history that its not going to explode in my pocket like some other non SE battery might. I don't use it all the time however as sometimes, like on a night out, I don't want the extra bulk in my pocket, so will put the standard battery back in, but most of the time now I'll be sporting the fatty ;)

What's Good
Amazing battery life, especially when using wifi, GPS, 3G, gaming, Music and other battery intensive activities.
Quality Make; Everything fits perfectly from the battery itself to the replacement cover
No need to take a spare battery on trips, swap and need to recharge all the time
The sturdy feel to the PLAY when gaming

What's not so Good
The bulk increase as a phone (though this soon disappears)
The weight increase in the pocket
The somewhat annoying running in of the battery in the first place ;)

It's got the itsnoel seal of approval if you are looking for a brilliant increase in battery life and a nice sturdy feel to your Xperia PLAY when gaming and not having to worry about dead phones on trips away is priceless.

If you are more concerned about having a fatty in your pockets all the time or are happy to carry more than one battery and have to swap your battery over or even carry a charger too, then stick with what you are doing. Just hope the hotel has more than one plug to use ;)

NOTE: Mugen Batteries are available for many handset types so please refer to their site for your handset

Check out some other PLAY posts with the tag cloud


Saturday, July 9, 2011

How to download on the Japanese PSN Welcome back Program


The Japanese PSN network is finally back up after what feels like an eternity. Anyway, this is a quick run thru of what you can do to download the free games if you don't speak/read the lingo. It's pretty much exactly the same path though as the EU and US stores so you could probably figure it out, so this is just a hand.

This isn't the HK store, which is slightly different.

Your choice of games is 2 PS3 games from the following:
The Last Guy
LocoRoco Cocoreccho!
WipEout HD
Hustle Kings

I downloaded Hustle Kings and The Last Guy as follows:

Log into your Japanese PSN account. NOTE: You needed to have this account already set up prior to account before April 21, 2011.

Select the highlighted link in the middle of the first screen as below

Next you will come to this screen where you need to pick the PS3 games list

Next, you need to access the free token by clicking this item

Once you click to download that, you need to activate it as with normal purchases, its just another click and you are here. As you see this is where the list of free games is available to see too.

Following that you can begin the download of your chosen games. You will know that all is ok if you see the PSN store purchase logo next to the PS3 box as below

Now, you can get to downloading 2 more free games! Take your pick from the following:

The install route is exactly the same as for the EU/US store etc, This is Hustle Kings (which when you play it is all in English anyway):

Job done :)

If you want to download PSP games, its the same process but clearly you need to PSP box

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sheffield Wednesday Fixture List 2011/2012 season

OK, just a quick one for you SWFC fans out there.

I've made a shared calendar again this season, hosted on google calendars and available to you and your Android/Nokia/iPhone/pc/mac whatever device nice and simply and without cost.

This link will take your calendar program to fully list the fixtures and location of games and times, straight on to your device. The Google map functionality will also help if you are a super travelling fan for finding the ground allowing you a single click to load Google maps (if you are on the cracking Android Devices) (sorry iPhoners) ;)

If you have an iphone you can go to Start > Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account > Other > Add Subscribed Calendar and type in Job done.

For anything else you can probably just click the link

Or alternatively, point your barcode scanner at

Up the Owls!

Monday, May 30, 2011

White Chocolate Cheesecake

As with many British Bank Holidays, it rained. So, with time on my hands the family asked me to make a cheesecake. I've not made one before, mostly because I don't like cheesecake. (yes, I hear the thoughts... "how can you not like cheesecake?"... but it's a consistency thing for me)

Anyway, I made a white chocolate cheesecake today and when I served it up to my tea time diners, it went down a treat, so after a few tweet requests for the recipe, here it is:

You will need;

675g of you favourite soft cheese. (I used Philly)
140g of white chocolate. Don't skimp on the quality
156g minimum of Oreo Cookies (that's the size of a regular tube pack, but if you have more than 1 pack, bulk it up to about 180g)
160g of sugar
60g of soft butter
60g dried cranberries or substitute cranberries for whatever you like
3 Eggs
1 teaspoon of grated Orange zest, but if you don't want too much orange sent, halve it

Ingredients at the ready? Lets bake.

  • Preheat your oven to 170°C

  • Whilst its warming up, crumble those Oreos up. I used a big bowl and a rolling pin as my favoured technique, but you can break them up in which ever way floats your boat as long as the end result is a load of small crumbs.

  • When they are nicely crumbled up, add the softened butter to the mix and blend in fully.

  • Once you have the butter and Oreos nicely combined, you need to tightly pack them them into a springform pan, about 8-9 inches. I used 8.5 and this mix came right to the top. If you don't have a springform pan though, get a normal pan, put it on a baking sheet, draw round the base, cut out the paper circle and drop the result in the bottom of your pan. That will help you get the cheesecake out at the end. You may want to very lightly grease the sides.

  • Put your chocolate on to melt down. Don't micro it.. naughty naughty ;)

  • Now, you need to put all the sugar and all the soft cheese into a large bowl. Give it a wizz with a hand blender to get it all nicely blended.

  • Add the eggs one at a time, blending quickly after each egg is added.

You should now have a large bowl of cream coloured liquidly looking stuff.

  • Add to that bowl the final ingredients.

  1. Your melted white chocolate

  2. Your dried fruit of choice

  3. The Orange Peel

  • Now you have a full bowl of blended and mixed ingredients, carefully pour it over the Oreo base in the tin to complete the cheesecake, pre bake

  • Now, take your creation to the oven and put it in for around 50mins or until its practically set. You can tell by sticking a cocktail stink in it.

  • When its finished in the oven, remove and allow to cool. Once cooled, remove it from your pan (carefully if you don't have springform. Just rock it between the pan and an upside down plate or something)

  • Finally, stick it in the fridge. It needs to refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, but overnight is fine too if you can wait that long.

Just before you serve, you may want to add some more dried fruit or grated chocolate to the top. Whipped cream is a good choice too but be steady.

White Chocolate Cheesecake

Then, you are good to go. Enjoy.

Let me know how it goes if you try it. Also, we thought a ginger nut base might go with this really well instead of Oreo so happy to hear of any changes you make.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Where your UK passport fee goes

The answer! Finally.

Seems to be now on the website as follows:

What the fee covers
IPS does not make a profit. Passport fees cover the costs of providing passport services in the UK. Part of the fee is called 'the consular premium'. This covers the costs of providing consular help to British nationals who find themselves in difficulty while overseas.
Consulates and embassies
If you're interested in how the cost of a UK passport compares with that of passports around the world, check the comparison table from IPS.
International passport fee comparison table from IPS

The IPS link takes you to this PDF, which is continently.. bearing in mind IPS are saying it is a comparison table, laid out in every country's own currency... so for your info £77.50 as of 26th May 2011 is 89.15 EUR and 126.39 USD.

So we have one of the most expensive passports in the EU but still cheaper than a US one it seems.

My next question, who has ever used a British Consulate, other than for banqueting?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Soft Top Waterproofing - Perfect Result!

So, when I first got this new car I didn't go with the dealers autoglym whatever deal. Instead I took it to Jonny at Pure Detail.

He left me clear instructions which I passed on to the dealer, not to touch the car body work. So, when I picked it up it was still covered in the plastic and delivery stickers, as well as a load of dust and muck.

Perfect. :)

Anyway, at his place he told me he had a waterproofing bit of kit that we were going to try on the roof as part of the detail. Its been on now for 4 months and is still exactly the same. In fact, I was at the dealers just yesterday and the sale guy commented on how brand new the roof was looking. Because, essentially, it is. Nothing has got thru to lay on it. This was the video we did after it was first done and really I should get another at 6 months and again in a year.

The product is from GTechniq which seems to have been borne from the sailing world but it works an absolute treat. Water is like mercury when it hits it and if you have a new soft top, I cant recommend I1 Smart Fabric enough. As Jonny at Pure Detail will tell you tho... it doesn't make you yourself more waterproof! ;)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Passport Update

So, a quick little update.

A day after I left a message to call me back RE Passport and its costs, I got a phone call from the IPS. To be totally fair they called me back within 24hrs which is good enough.

The chap that called back was probably a phone operative. When I asked him where the money for a passport went, he told me that it went into the making of the passport and some when to the embassy.

This made me think he is making this up, so I asked for more information. Which Embassy? Can I get a discount for less pages because of the other family passports in the house, I'm the only one with any stamps on the page? If I have to pay for more pages, why don't people get discounted for less?

He didn't have any answers so I asked to be referred to somewhere I could find this information. He hung up.

To be continued...

Oh, and whilst I remember, £20 for a driving license update.... another sting!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Great UK Passport rip off?

I often thought that the statistic of passport ownership in the US was an interesting one. I though things like "Unlike us in the UK, maybe they don't have the requirement to travel to other countries when there is such diversity right there in their own country"... (I also laughed when I heard things like World Series but that's another story)

According to a 2008 State data report, about 28 percent of the U.S. population has a passport, with 85.5 million U.S. passports in circulation as of February 2008. It's $165 for a passport book and card according to The Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Now compare this to Britain and a Q&A on about Identity Cards sited 80% of the UK population own a passport (in 2009). The Office for National Statistics estimated the UK population to be 61,792,000 therefore there are around 49,433,600 passports out to UK Nationals.

Which brings me to my gripe. Today, whilst choosing somewhere hot and, well hot for a family vacation, I remembered that my passport was run out. I had to start the renewal process for my passport.

This is a little red-ish/purple-ish (I guess that makes it burgundy?) book that sits safely in a building for all but 2 or if I'm really lucky, 4 weeks in a year had done its time. Pages stamped with Praha, Quintana Roo, Hewanorra et al. that brought back some happy and some hazy memories, were about to be phased out. (Incidentally, I have look after multiple passports, as I'm the dad in the family and as such, anything involving passports is multiplied)

So, off I go. Renewing a passport is easier now than 10 years ago it seem, so there was no standing in line at the Post Office as you can 'begin' the renewal process online . That's about the only good news though in this passport renewal saga.

My gripe mostly comes down to how much this thing costs! For the privilege of having to have a passport to travel, be that a renewal or your first adult passport, you will be charged the princely sum of £77.50. This will get you a standard 30 page passport. If you want to step up to a jumbo passport due to travelling more then you can get the Jumbo 48-page passport for just £90.50. The full table of costs can be seen here

So, along with hefty summer flight costs, baggage allowances, Pound v Euro etc. I have an extra cost for new documents. Over £200 extra cost. This really yanked my chain. What does this £77.50 go to? I thought I'd call the Identity & passport Service (IPS) to find out. Firstly, I pressed '1' to enquire about fees. This took me to a long automated response about everything that I could already read on their website, then hung up on me. Classic. So I dialled back pressed a few other buttons and got through to a queue, which then gave me the option of a callback instead of waiting. That's where I am now as of 19:23.

Anyway, my question and reason for this post is to ask, is £77.50 good value for a passport? Does a passport even offer any value? If I'm forced by the government to have one, shouldn't it be provided for me or is the £77.50 actually a subsidised cost?!

If we roll back to the figures at the start of this post, then the IPS charges about 49,433,600 x £77.50 (flexibility for child passports at £49 and Jumbo at £90.50).


Three Billion, Eight Hundred and Thirty One Million, One hundred and Four Thousand Pounds.

As a comparison for your interest (if you're still following), the US figure comes out at $14,107,500,000/£8,606,690,681.47

It IS over 10 years though so lets cut is down some more.



Through writing this post I've gone from feeling ripped off, to thinking well it is £70 over 10 years so only £7 a year. Sounds like value like though in that time frame (although brings me back to can a passport HAVE value)

So now I really want to know from IPS where the cost of a passport goes to.

Feel free to chip in cause I bet they don't call me back today.

FYI from DirectGov:

For help, call the IPS Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000.

The Adviceline is open:
- 8.00 am to 8.00 pm Monday to Friday
- 9.00 am to 5.30 pm weekends and public holidays

If my Gran needs a new passport though, its free. Result!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Xperia Play Screen Cracked

//thanks to the android app this is now the 3rd time I've written this.

This morning, whilst sitting in the lounge a phone notification came through, so I went over the the stand that my phone was on to check it. To set the scene, this stand was a MASSIVE 2.5 foot high.

As I picked up the phone, it span in my hand a little and slipped. Gravity did its thing and the phone went directly down.

Opps I thought, and that was all I thought at that time. I've had many phones that I've dropped. Dropped on carpet, dropped on tarmac, dropped over 13ft from a shirt pocket up a ladder (that was a Nokia) down on to concrete ..... and they all survived with nothing more that a dint on the casing or in the case of the X6 that skipped down the tarcmac, a slight nick out the glass itself.

So on to this morning. After the HUGE fall of 2 foot, clearly something met the very edge of the PLAYs screen and this happened.

The hardest thing this could have hit is my pen lid, (which was metal) which was resting on top of the pad, so you can imagine my shock as I picked the phone up and turned it over. This is something of iPhone screen fail proportions!

Theres no way anything like this has been done it Sony Ericsson is there?!

It reminded me of this post too in which a Nokia N8 bit the tarmac.

The saving grace for the Xperia PLAY at the moment is that it still works due to the screen protector they add on.

I will be interesting to see what Sony Ericsson can do in this instant to see how easy it will be for the general consumer to get this type of mishap fixed. We shall see.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ridiculously Comfortable - Reef Fanning @betruetoblue slaps

So last summer, actually thinking about it it could have been Summer 08 or 07, I bought some Reef 'slaps'. I looked around at a few different styles before I came across these Reef Fannings. What made me buy this particular type this time around will soon become apparent, but these were not the normal type I'd go for as they have the bit that goes between the toes. I remember growing up, having a pair like this, and they bugged the hell out of me. Especially when the sand got in between the toes and chaffed. :(

Anyway, when I saw these Reef Sandals, with their added extra, they became a must have for me.

Now, I've splashed out on a new set.

Reef Fanning

At first having a bottle opener on the sole I thought would be cool for a party then that'd be it. As it happens, I used it loads! Its not the cheap church key type that wears away like a christmas cracker opener. Its in as good a condition as when I bought it on my old grey/reds.

Sadly though, they'd become a bit 'worn' and the bubble was starting to crack in the sole along with some other slight peel from all the sun/water ;)

That made me get these. If you haven't tried Reefs out before, do it now. They are strangely and amazingly comfortable for slaps. Not only that but this time, I got Project Blue ones, so a portion of the ££ i paid go toward the SIMA Environmental Fund, benefiting more almost 20 environmentally focused organizations, all of whom share a common mission in protecting our playgrounds. Good deed for the day done! ;)

These retail around 40 quid, depending on how good you are at hunting. Check out the Reef page and your fav search engine for more styles.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Annoying Orange is BACK!

So, the team over at Nokia and WOMworld have been busy tweeking Annoying Orange. .... and he's on his way back. Having chatted at length over gtalk, I can say at first you could love him, but after a while you'll want to rip off his face and drink/eat him (eh) ;)

Anyway, this is where you need to be for the latest news on what they are doing to him... and here he is in full on talk motion. Keep your eyes peeled to the facebook group for updates.

HA HA #sufc.

This cheered me up no end, thinking back to all the grief I got last season.... easy 6 points for us then in 2011/2012

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maximum Annoyance. (and the Xperia Launch) fwiw

Just wrote a piece on the Xperia Play launch tonight... hit the wrong X tab on chrome and BYE BYE text. Where is the auto save wordpress?

Will have to wait now till I 'fess up on my thoughts of the Xperia Play Launch.

EDIT>> Update, been way busy to post on the night that never really was. So I'll drop it here.
  • VIP night that wasnt really VIP. You queue up, you get in.
  • Dead poor product placement for an actual launch event
  • Could have been so much better
  • they ran out of beer, then had some more, then ran out again.
  • for all the badmouthing of Nokia that day, SE should take a leaf out of their book about organising parties ;)

    In all seriousness, the launch event was a 'damp squib' but the actual Xperia Launch Day event for me was great. Meeting some like minded people and coming from the Finnish side of the fence was certainly interesting, so this coming year will really see whether SE are serious contenders in the Android world or just taking a bit part role. I picked up the Xperia PLAY device and I'm liking it for its purpose at the moment so I'll get to posting about that when I can as Im too busy playing Battle Bears

  • Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY Launch Event

    So, I know I know, I'm allaboutsymbian and Nokia.... so what I am doing posting about Xperia Play? Well, I've gratefully accepted to join the Sony Ericsson Test Lab crew and this is the handset I'm running with. It could have been any of the new releases but as I'm a gamer, I guess this was a simple choice. I'm really looking forward to meeting the SE team, Snr. Execs and PR people and the other bloggers... plus my mate Jon , he's more of a geek than I am, promise! ;)

    Everything kicks off on the 31st March in the City Of London, so I'm heading south again. There is a facebook page if you fancy getting along. Its here.

    The Test Lab event side of things though, will be chitchat and road-mapping and seeing what SE are doing with the new line, plus some other hush stuff at the moment. I'm sure I'll get a good understanding of what SE have been doing since I left them (from the T28 I might add, I loved that phone... although thinking back that fat stubby aerial stuck your in the leg whenever you sat down)

    My mobilegeekery will be well satisfied I'm sure so I'm looking forward to it. Drop me a message if you are going and we can meet up.

    It will be the first Android device I'll be looking at for an extended period of time. This coupled with work about to move me from Blackberry to iPhone might just push me right over the edge!

    Be afraid!

    See ya car!

    So, after a few days of the car being on pistonheads and vagoc I had a good few interested people call up. Strangely, more than 50% of the people that called were from the midlands?! Go figure.

    Anyway, a couple of friendly lads came and met with me, looked over the car and liked what they saw. Did their due diligence checks and then that was it. Off to a new home.

    They were grinning like Cheshire cats as they drove off in the car, it was brilliant. Reminded me of when I first drove it and probably looked the same. To be fair, I still had that daft smirk when I drove it to the last day of ownership.

    Anyway, my garage is now filled with another car ;)

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Audi S3 2008 For Sale

    So, the time has come and my sad face is very much on.

    My Audi S3 is coming up to 3 years old and I'm now after a new car. Change in circumstances too, means I'm doing a fair few more miles that I was when I first bought this car so I doubt my change will be as exciting, but we'll see.

    From pre purchase, the Audi S3 has put a smile on my face. It sticks to the road like its on rails. Through my time with the car in the recent poor weather, that itself has been a joy as I see BMW and Merc drivers struggling to move whilst I happily cruise past with Quattro efficiency.
    I'll miss the duels with the Merc C63 AMG 'PAUL D' as will I miss you Mr XJR ... your faces were great ;)

    In any weather conditions, This. Car. Shifts. Its also a delight to cruise down the motorway and its size means its great for diving into town and not having the issues of parking a Chelsea Tractor.

    And this is the info on it.

    33k Miles
    Ibis White (the best colour)
    with optional extras of:
    Sat Nav
    Flat Bottom Multifunction Steering Wheel (FBMFSW)
    iPod Connection in glovebox with charging and all ipod adapter shutes
    Full BT phone integration *so yes, you have the cool shark fin on the roof*
    Rear Parking Sensors
    Tire Pressure Sensor

    - Rain & Light Sensor Pack
    - Mirrors auto dimming, folding & light sensitive
    - Luggage Pack

    I have been the sole owner of this car and since March 2008 it has been cleaned EVERY SINGLE weekend, with dual bucket methods and foam lance. Yes I have been that anal about the car. Actually, that statement isn't entirely true. When it was -14 that weekend I didn't do it as the water wouldn't come out the tap.

    Anyway, all paperwork is with the car, 2 keys, and service book shows its just had a full service in January 2011. Michelin RE050 Potenza Tyres have over 5mm on all corners and filled with nitrogen (its beneficial apparently)

    There are a couple of stone chips, 1 just above the windscreen and 1 on the front skirt. It also has LED bulbs internally, which I can of course remove if you want a softer light. LED festoons are also in place above the reg plate. These look great on the Ibis paintwork. Its on 12mm spacers too in the pics, but they'll be coming off.

    Heres whats on offer:

    Audi S3

    (its the white one) ;)

    Its the white one!

    So, optional extras, plus the standard spec of the S3 make for an awesome car!

    I have a rolling road graph which shows the car doing somewhat considerably better than the stock figures, 294BHP/291LBFT, though this car is and always has been totally as it was coming out the factory. I have all the paperwork for it, its on new tyres and its fully Audi Serviced (looked after by Gilders Sheffield) and in for its first MOT so will have a year of that too.

    Hoepfully, who ever buys this car will join up to the forum and benefit from all the fun and experience our users have there too.

    Anyway, sale price £20,000

    and no canvassers thanks.

    PhoneSafe contact number 07071682621
    Day: 37.5p
    Evening: 25.0p
    Weekend: 12.5p

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Ben's Cookies

    I like cookies...

    In fact, I like most biscuits and cookies. I've not had any cookies as nice as these Ben's Cookies though.


    If you see one of their stores around the UK... or Japan (or where ever that other place is far away from Oxford) you gotta try them out.

    Ben Cookies (image courtesy of

    A some what sugar shout out to M.E.G. who brought a box in for us Loopers.

    The aftermath of #NokiaLondonLoop


    What a huge day! After getting down to London really easily, I got off the tube at Westbourne Park and bumped into my good friend Jon. Result! He knew where we were heading too. ;)

    Anyway, we headed to the world famous Sarm Studios to begin our day of looping. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from the day but was surprised by the results and the cool people I met along the way.

    1st up, big props to the WomWorld team, especially Meg and Katy who organised the event and met us when we got to the studio. Also in waiting was the lovely Dani who although I'd spoke to many times, had never actually met!

    As we all sat chillin upstairs from the studio, the big dog Aaron turned up too. Quality bloke and basically the man @ Sarm. Check out the list of people that he gets to deal with day in day out... bit different from your normal customers I'd guess ;)

    Anyway, what was the craic?

    The Nokia Loop app is available exclusively on the Ovi Store. Its a pretty big file standing at 15.83MB so best to DL over Wifi. The premise is that you get a base beat, or even make your own and you add little bits of everyday sounds. This is the promo video:

    Clearly, that was a bit of a pro job from Carl Faure / Shanghai Warrior and team, so some of you might think it was a little bit better than what we came up with, but personally, I think ours a mad skills! Here is my top 3 though that I made on the day, the last loop actually being 'the 1st place loser' to #toiletloop in the awards.

    [soundcloud width="100%" height="81" params="show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=001cb3" url=""] BollyLoop #NokiaLondonLoop by itsnoel

    [soundcloud width="100%" height="81" params="" url=""] Loop! Wakey Wakey by itsnoel

    [soundcloud width="100%" height="81" params="show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=001cb3" url=""] Its Hammersmith by itsnoel

    So, what do you think?

    The winning loop track for the friendly competition at the end of the day was from Mac of and is called Loo Fi (#ToiletLoop), which if you listen closely, is a perfect name for it. Here it is:

    [soundcloud width="100%" height="81" params="" url=""] Loo Fi Loop ( #ToiletLoop ) by maclondon

    At the end of the day we needed to pick one of our loops to play in the studio to everyone and then it would be decided who's the winning one was. The judges, Aaron, Phil and some of his other friends from Nokia went into Studio 3 booth to pick a winner... which turned out being Mac's.

    Here's what he won!!

    Mac and his Bling Bling Gold N8

    These are a few of the studio snaps I took with the Nokia N8 whilst there, and a very cool studio it was, though to be fair, I have only ever been in one other studio and that is Yellow Arch studios which brings back some old memories!

    After all the looping we went to the Electric Brasserie and had some drinks and food and more chat. A great end to the evening.

    So great, that I missed my train home! Luckily though,  I managed to catch the last one back to Sheffield but it stopped at every station on the way home and then there were trespassers on the line near Leicester so I didn't roll in till 0200hrs. I was shattered!  At least I had the BH905i headphones to listen to my music on the way home. Thats another post though.



    Thursday, February 3, 2011


    Well, today I am off down to London to join up with other mobile bloggers and fanatics to Sarm Studios.

    Home to get Invaders Must Die, Prodigy Album amongst many many others.

    The reason? Well mostly around the launch of the Loop app, available to Nokia S^3 users, (N8, C7 etc etc)

    Its available in Ovi Store for free download right now and when Im not on the train with a crappy connection I will link you to it. If you do manage to make anything quality sounding, I'd love to hear it because the ones Ive done have been horrendous ;)

    The twitter hash tag for the event is in the title, and I hope to bring you a little more later on.

    Whislt I sit here on the train though, its interesting to listen to the various conversations going on. Alan Irvines sacking from Sheffield Wednesday, My Gypsy Wedding, someone trying to find out the times of some parliamentary meetings.... its a real hot pot of people.

    When I got on the train i was one of the first one followed by another woman. I stopped at my seat and started to put things down and looked at her. She's looked at me and said,

    "Oh sorry, that's my seat"

    As the train was completely empty I can only assume that she thought I was just sitting anywhere... turned out my reservation was next to her, which was a bit of a result as she was a friendly singer songwriter on her way down to some studios in Herts or something. So for probably the 1st and last time, I was sitting with someone else heading to a music studio in the same way I was... random ;)