The Samsung Saga

I posted on Facebook yesterday that my blog today would be about mistakes made on the RTW trip and I have failed to do so. Partly because we mad so many mistakes it is too much to cover in 30 minutes or indeed one blog. Unless I make a list. Which probably I will.

Interruptions

The main reason for the #fail was that I got interrupted by a phone call. now I am sure there is something in the Pomodoro guide about  this, maybe in a real work situation I would complete the task and let it go to answer phone. Yet our home phone isn’t exactly a busy phone. And I was expecting an update on the Samsung sub woofer that could have burned my house down saga. So I had to answer it. Which took a big chunk out of my 30 minutes set aside to blog.

The Samsung Saga

Our blu ray DVD player broke down in early October just as it went out of warranty, wouldn’t you know. So we took it back to the retailer we bought it from to see what the damage would be. After 2 weeks we had heard nothing from them. Now this retailer is really local as I can see their car park from the rear window of my house. It is also an independent retailer and you know how I bang on about that. Yet this is the first thing we have ever bought from them in over 25 years. Because I do not like the owner. At all.

Fire

A few days later and I was in the lounge when I heard a very odd crackling sound then I could smell electrical burning.  Panicking a bit, I unplugged everything in the hi fi corner, and started to investigate where it had come from. Because I could, I also posted about it on Facebook, as you do. That message was seen by someone who works in the 999 response centre for the Fire Brigade and after some persuasion from him I reluctantly called the fire brigade. Two fire engines with sirens, arrived and there were lots of firemen in my house to investigate the source of the burning smell.  After a a discussion with one of them about Bill Bryson, eventually they discovered that if you plugged in the sub woofer it set on fire. If I hadn’t been in the house and noticed the smell and unplugged everything I would not have had a house to come home to. Which was a bit scary.

The sub woofer was taken to the retailer and they told us they would not continue with the repair of the DVD player until they had heard from Samsung about the sub woofer. A week went by. Nothing. In week 2 they loaned us a very inferior DVD player. Week 4. Nothing.  We complained and they loaned us a blu ray player. Still inferior to the one that was broken. And time ticked by. We were told that the speaker had been sent to the factory for inspection. Blah Blah blah. Over a month had passed and nothing had happened.

The power of social media

Fed up with lack of response from Samsung I tweeted them. And emailed them and posted on their Facebook page. What is happening about my speaker that nearly burned my house down? I got a pretty quick response, funnily enough. They needed the reference number for the repair which I didn’t have. Neither did the retailer, I forwarded the email from Samsung to the retailer and copied in Samsung and tweeted them about what I had done.

Still nothing from the retailer. I started to visit them daily, to be told that they would contact the rep. and then yesterday I got a call from Samsung. It was quite clear that she knew nothing of the saga. She was lovely and helpful and shocked when I told her it wasn’t smoke but flames coming out of the speaker. And that the original date of the return of the unit was October 13th. Then I got another call from Samsung repair centre to book a collection date. I told them I didn’t have it. I thought they had it, they didn’t. The sub woofer is still with the retailer not with Samsung.

Getting shouty works

I rang the retailer with my angry head on. Why did you say you had sent it to Samsung ?Denial that they had said that.  6 weeks had passed since we had taken the offending sub woofer to them and NOTHING had happened and I was not pleased. I may have mentioned Watchdog. I got a bit shouty.

Lovely lady from Samsung called again today (the interruption). Seems shouty works as have been offered a replacement or full refund.

Someone, somewhere had not done their job right and she knows it.

So do I accept a replacement of go for a full refund? do I want to continue a relationship with them? I don’t think I do.

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The 30 minute blog

Distracted moi?

Ok I am a procrastinator who doesn’t seem to get much done although I am busy all day.  I am a the Friends character Monica with a Phoebe rising, or the other way round, I am not sure. I want to be a better writer, so I am experimenting with the 30 minute blog.  Yesterdays blog took  up most of my day and nothing else got done. I had heard about the Pomodoro method and I thought, hey I will try that for my to do list and to blog is on that list. So in front of me is a timer set to 30 minutes and when it pings, I will publish.

Thinking smarter or faster?

So I have to think fast and not waste time looking for the perfect picture, as that sees to be what took up most of my time yesterday. Or too many links. Less typos perhaps. And not strive for perfection.

Facebook eats into my life too much

The day started with me ranting at a post on my Facebook timeline from Lorraine, queen of day time TV. I know its not her posting, but you know it really irritates me that it is all about not having bingo wings and the perfect Christmas dress. I rarely watch the programme, I think morning TV is a distraction we don’t need, and when I do I am dismayed to find that it is really all about making women feel worse about them selves. The men just watch to lech at Lorraine. Maybe I will watch it tomorrow and count how many times they say perfect. Let that eat into my time instead of my Facebook and twitter timeline.

Social Media is better than watching the news

It is, really it is. It is often on twitter before the tellybox anyhow if something major happen. Yesterday there was a big explosion and fire at a factory in Langley. A FB friend  lives close by and reported that it had happened, after calling the fire brigade. I knew more about the situyation form her and later tweets from the various news stream I follow on twitter that I would hav done from the telly box.  I also know that Larry Hagman had died before it was on the radio of TV.  And I like that it is short and headlines not subtext. If I want to find out more, I can, but hey I’m a headline person.

The explosion meant…

My husband works in Crosswells Road for the Special Library Service delivering books to the housebound. He was telephone to say they had had to evacuate the building so he went to Thimblemill Library for the rest of the day. It meant he couldn’t take the van back or bring our car home which had the coal in it for our fire. But that was a minor inconvenience.

For the people who lived nearby, the fire meant they had to spend the night in temporary accommodation, not knowing if they had a home or car to go back to. I know this because my FB friend  (another one I have also met in real life) reported this. She knows her car is a write off. She is not sure what state her house will be in. She is also a local Labour Councillor and while she was upset and afraid, what struck me was that she cancelled all her appointments, not just because she had a lot of stuff to deal with, but to support the local residents. I know her and I am sure she has personally visited everyone to see what she can do to help. That is humanity. I would have her in my corner anytime.

Seven minutes on the clock. 633 words. And that is all folks.

The #4amproject

What is the 4 am project?

I first heard of the 4 am project over a year ago. I had started following @karenstrunks on twitter via people I had met at Social Media Surgeries. Karen had been driving home one night at 4 am and it had struck her how different the world looks at that time. The idea for the project was born.

Made in Birmingham

This is now a global project but it all started here in Birmingham in 2008. Social media has enabled us to play a part in building a global picture of the world at 4am.

My involvement

I met with Karen at one of the monthly Social Media Cafes she organises in Birmingham.  I have been on a bit of a mission to actually meet people I met first through twitter and she was on the list. Her blogs are brilliant and she is a real enabler in so many ways. The next 4 am project was coming up and she persuaded me to join in.

Street furniture

When I attended Planning Camp I learnt a lot about street furniture. So it seems has Winchester.

The decline of the high street

This was the theme  of my first contribution to the 4 am project. I had got involved with the Portas Pilot bid for Bearwood and I had started noticing the empty shops more and also the general neglect of what is essentially community space. I wrote a bit about it on my blog Post Travelling Blues. I called it litter and light.

Litter and Light

We chose a different location for the 4am project this time and we knew it would be interesting to see the contrast between Bearwood in Sandwell and Winchester in Hampshire. There were some common themes, again in litter and light.

Turn off the lights?

It was shocking to see how many empty shops in Bearwood had lights left on all night. The wast is shameful. Yet in Winchester we found that so many of the Building Societies and shops also left not the odd one of two lights on but loads of them blazing away. From a security point of view there may be valid reasons to do this, yet the waste of power appalls me.

Things really look different at 4am

They really do. Looking at the photographs today a few things struck me. I had walked past this shop in daylight (well gloomy rain filled light ) earlier and never noticed this display. Now all I can see is legs and handbags.

Or this one.

The once busy pubs were all shut up and chairs on top of tables.

Yet here there was a whole team of staff laying tables at 4am.

Who would have seen this in the daylight?

And what a gloomy, dirty and neglected bus station for such a beautiful city.

Yet again, I was glad I was not waiting for a bus…..

John Popham's Random Musings

It’s long been my view that there are far too many people in life who fail to recognise why we all have two ears and one mouth. I have always tried to remember that listening is one of the most important things we can do. In the world of social media, as in other aspects of life, there is too much talk and not enough responsiveness.

Today, in the Our Digital Planet Internet Station, I spent more than an hour listening to someone’s life story. It was far from an easy listen. He told me he was desperate to tell his life story to someone, and that he wanted to do it to a camera. Failing that, he would seek to go on the Jeremy Kyle programme because he felt the need to tell the world why he is like he is. I told him that I could provide a…

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Still travelling

I started this blog to document my round the world trip with my husband. That was October 2011 and now we have been back in our home in Birmingham England, since February 2012.

So I have been back longer than I was away, yet my blog is still called travellingcoral and so it will continue to be. I was a traveller before my blog and I continue to travel. I may not be flying thousands of miles and living out of a back pack, yet I am still travelling. I carry my camera everywhere and look at my own country, my town, my city, as a traveller does. I have become a tourist in my own country. I see England and the UK differently now. And this is why.

When we were in Melbourne last year we met a man called Rob in Federation Square. He was in in 70’s and we got chatting as we sat on the deckchairs there. He gave us lots of tips about what to do and see in Melbourne. He told us of his work back in the 60’s and filled us in about the history of Melbourne. He was so proud of his English Heritage and of Melbourne. By coincidence we met him again the following day in the Botanic Gardens.

Now that place is huge, and the chance of bumping into someone are slim. We were meant to meet him I am sure of that. He then offered to give us a guided walk of the gardens and surrounding areas, which we were happy to do. Again his pride of Melbourne was impressive, sharing his knowledge of the history of the city and the country with us gave him joy. It was a brilliant day.

I struck me then that most Brits don’t seem proud of their heritage, are not very knowledgeable about the history of where they live, and are more likely to criticise the country rather than big it up. Rob wasn’t the first person we met who wanted to show off their city. Tim and Jo Anne who we met in Northland invited us to stay at their home in Wellington and took us to The Roxy Cinema after dinner at Coco’s. The next day they took us on the cable car to the Botanic Gardens. Tim also gave us an insiders tour of WETA.

Barb and Pete who we met in Haverstock took us to see our first Kangaroo in the suburbs of Lysterfield, Melbourne, picked us up to go to the Victoria Markets and invited us to share Christmas Day with their family.

Since I have been home I have revisited Weston, Stratford upon Avon, The Cotswolds, Winchester, Brecon and Hay on Wye. The family visited Sarehole Mill during the Tolkien weekend. I visited my daughter in London and went to a concert in Hyde Park.  I have started a list of places I have never visited in my own city including the Barber Institute. I visited the Love and Death exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which also has the Staffordshire Hoard.

English: The Round Room at Birmingham Museum &...

English: The Round Room at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery Source – FlickR (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whenever possible I big up Birmingham  I met a family at a food festival in Birmingham who were here for the World BMX Championships They were really impressed with how beautiful the city is. And it is! They admitted that they had thought Birmingham was a grey and dirty city that they bypassed on the M6 to get to Manchester or the Lake District. When I told them that Birmingham hosted the biggest Christmas Market outside of Germany the mom was immediately making plans for her friends Christmas shopping trip. To Birmingham.

So I am still travelling….. are you?

Go travelling. While you can.

DSCF2609I have been putting off writing this for days, weeks even as every time  I think about it I find myself getting tearful. Yet I need to do it. While I can.

Last year I made a major decision to go travelling. I have wanted to visit New Zealand for longer than I can remember. I had an old uni friend in Melbourne who I wanted to visit and wanted to see some kangaroos and koalas and Sydney Harbour.  My husband has always wanted to visit California and drive the Big Sur and slowly we built  a bucket list  round the world itinerary.

And we knew we had to do it sooner than later as we both had 79 year old moms who had had a few health scares. It was agreed that our children would update their grandmothers on our progress as we intended only to keep in touch on line. No phone calls. No post cards.

Despite having failing eyesight my mom was at the time relatively digitally engaged. She was on Facebook and used email regularly to keep in touch with friends she had made around the world on her own travels. So that she could still use her computer she had invested in all sorts of gadgets and software.

The mom in law, on the other hand thinks computers are the work of the devil. She also thought going off round the world at our age was a teeny bit selfish. It wasn’t. It was very selfish of us. That was the point. After 30 years of doing jobs that sometimes we loved, often hated, a combination of at least 7 redundancies between us (we stopped counting) living below the line when on benefits and bringing up two children, we decided that it was time to do something just for us. While we can.

So here’s the thing. If we had put off travelling when we did, because of all the excuses we had made for the past 26 years we may never have gone. So many travel bloggers say don’t put it off, because you have kids, you have a house, you have a good job, you don’t have a job, you are scared, you have a boy or girl friend who doesn’t want you to go, it’s not the right time, and they are right, none of these are good enough reasons not to go.

In July 2011 I was offered another 6 to 9 months contract in my job. If I had accepted I would have been unhappier than I could imagine, doing a job I no longer loved. I had achieved everything I had set out to do and needed a new challenge. I begged to be made redundant. I told my stunned boss that there was a plane ticket with my name on it and now was the time to use it.

The day I accepted my severance package everything else fell into place. The Melbourne visit became a house sit for 6 weeks, we found perfect tenants for the house, and the airfares were exactly the same amount as the enhanced part of my redundancy pay. So we booked our flights and did it, while we could.

Mom was delighted when I told her we were going. And actually she is the only person who, on our return, was genuinely interested in where we had been and what we had done.

In the past 3 months my mom has become more or less housebound as she has to have oxygen 24/7, can barely walk across a room without becoming breathless, has to have  a carer come in to get her out of bed and wash her and has had a stair lift installed. I could not go off on a 5 month round the world trip now as I want to be near to my mom. Having a mom who is blind and wheelchair bound, is a reason not to go. Mom doesn’t want to be a virtual prisoner in her home she wants to be boarding a plane to go somewhere warm to escape the cold and rain in England. She wants to be in Luxor or Bangkok or Singapore or… well anywhere but home.  But that is unlikely to happen. So what she talks of now is a short stay in Switzerland.

So do it while you can.

This is my mom. As I know her. Not the frail woman I hardly recognise. Thank you mom for giving me the travel bug.

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Friends. The other one about Social Media.

Batu Caves Thaipusam 2007

Just over a year ago I started following two people on twitter. Very different people. One was @JDEntrepreneur the other @thevicarswife.

I liked the feisty tweets from @thevicarswife and really admire the work she and her extended household are doing in a very deprived area of Sandwell. Her blog is really brilliant. You can find it here.

When she knew I would be visiting Malaysia she invited me for tea at The Vicarage. I remember the day vividly. Her three children were in dressing up clothes jumping down the stairs. I immediately felt at home as much of my childhood was like this, when I wasn’t living up a tree! At the Vicarage there is always tea and lots of homemade cake. Yet it was four months later that I was able to realise the real value of the friendship.

I was in Kuala Lumparand hating it. Really hating it. Phil and I had joined a G Adventures tour travelling overland from Singapore to Bangkok. We’d been on the road for three months in first world countries so Malaysia was a bit of the shock to the system. There were some great people in the group. And one that everyone found difficult. Ugh Oh I shall call her. Our tour guide, Pong, had been mugged outside our horrible hotel. And the previous night we had eaten horrible food in a fake American bar. This wasn’t the Colours of Asia I had been expecting.

We had been to the Thaipusam festival in the Batu Caves. Phil, Kelly, Sean and I found it so disturbing we had fought back through the crowds, back on to an even more overcrowded train and gone back to the hotel. We were all exhausted and a bit teary. On top of the tension in the group caused by Ugh Oh, which was getting seriously difficult by then, the day had just about finished us off. So I tweeted @thevicarswife. ‘Help hating KL need authentic place to eat’. Within 30 minutes she had contacted her friends in KL and had a recommendation. Koon Kee’s Great Wonton on Petaling street. When we eventually found the place, and that is another story for another day, we had some wonderful food and the Carling Girl had never been so busy. That night, Two Dinners Sean, Phil and I began our baby saving mission in South East Asia. Thanks to @thevicarswife.

So how does @JDEntreneur fit in to all this. He intrigued me as a then 19 year ol entrepreneur. He said some daft things sometimes (who doesn’t) and I often picked him up on his grammar and spelling, yet one couldn’t deny that he was a hard worker, inspiring young people to set up businesses. This is his blog about social media. I would urge you to read his others, too.

And this is the conversation between us on twitter.

Jamie Dunn ‏@JDEntrepreneur

Got to write my next column for @Birminghammail tonight… listing some topics to cover. Anything you think should be added?!

Expand

@JDEntrepreneur @birminghammail supporting independent retailers, stalking tweeters? marketing and social media

@travellingcoral done. Have a read as I’ve mentioned our brief meeting!

5:37 PM – 14 Oct 12 · Details
I was that stalker person. Regular readers will know I like indie coffee shops with WiFi. I was visiting Brewsmiths near Snow Hill Station. It was the first time I had been there. Had no idea that Jamie Dunn ‏@JDEntrepreneur would be there. Turns out it was his first visit too. I recognised him from his blog and as he sat down I tweeted that he had just walked in, as you do. It was pure coincidence that we were both there on the same day. If you believe in coincidence. If nothing else it gave him inspiration for his blog about social media. And it was very funny to seem him looking around the cafe trying to work out who I was.
So who have you met first through twitter and then in real life? How did it go?

Fond memories of my years in Bristol.

Bristol Culture

Who knew that a troll would be lurking underneath the Clifton Suspension Bridge? The fearsome creature appeared last night just in time for Halloween, and what also may or may not have been a publicity stunt for the launch of a new website from Bristol deign agency Taxi Studio.

Joining forces with animation company Play Nicely, a 200ft 3D projection was created underneath the bridge, following the story of two graffiti artists who disturb the troll.

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I like that the kids are invited to perform. Not just get sweeties for knocking on the door.

The Vicar's Wife

All our Trick or Treaters turned up whilst we were eating last night. But despite the bad timing (and a rather cold tea), we had lots of fun. We always ask kids to perform something in exchange for their sweeties, as they do in Scotland, but they were all pretty hopeless and in the end the Joker and the Engineer told jokes from their vast repertoire.

We told them about our Jesus pumpkin, which had a flame on one side and “Jesus” within a heart on the other, talking about how Christ brings light to our world and into our lives. And then we handed out sweeties and tracts. The damp weather put a few off, I suspect, but still a great opportunity to treat local kids and get to know the neighbours.

I was also tweeted a pic of a pumpkin carved by the supremely talented Liz and…

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