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Hair Dressers in East London

by JP on Mar.04, 2013, under General

I just wanted to give a shout-out to my friend and long-time hair stylist Nadia, who has recently celebrated the second birthday of her salon Foster London.

Situated in Shoreditch, on Bethnel Green Road, Nadia and her team offer the best haircut in East London IMHO – hell – even the whole of London.   With a quirky lovable interior featuring pastel walls and a gigantic keyhole, attentive friendly staff who ensure I’m always stocked up wtih tea and cheesecake, and a couple of dogs who like to sleep on your lap, it’s a great place to spend an hour having a chat and get spruced up.

Picture of Foster London Salon

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Etiquette Question for the Social Media Experts

by JP on Mar.03, 2013, under General

Here’s something to ponder on:

In today’s world, where we have multiple ways to contact an individual – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Path, through their email, through voice and SMS via their mobile (cell, for our US friends) number, and even face-to-face and traditional snail mail… What is the correct etiquette for wishing an individual a Happy Birthday?

Do you choose one single communication channel, and stick to that one alone?
Do you choose multiple channels?
If it’s only two, should it really be all the online channels you’re connected to that individual through, or at that point are you bombarding them?
Should it be the same message, sent through each online channel?

Throw in a voice call or seeing them in person, and then is wishing them greetings online really necessary at all?

I’ve wished a friend Birthday greetings today, and have done it via a Path moment and a message physically written in a card.

It feels like I’ve missed something out.

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Sporting Prints

by JP on Nov.28, 2012, under General

My old high-school teacher, Brian Halton, is quite the talented artist, producing stunning work of Yorkshire landscapes and of various sports, such as horse racing prints and football prints, and many other types of sport prints.  He also takes on commissions.

He used to produce a lot of art work memorabilia for Huddersfield Town Football Club, but his real passion lies in horse racing, and he spends a lot of time travelling the country to racing meets to both watch the races, and gather material for new pieces of artwork.
If you have a moment, you should check out his website – Beaconsfield Gallery.

Sample picture of Frankel in the 2012 Juddmonte at York by Brian Halton

Picture of Frankel in the 2012 Juddmonte at York

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Tricks that Online Retailers Play….

by JP on Aug.15, 2011, under General

We’ve just published a new infographic over at VoucherCodes.co.uk.

Read the full post over at VoucherCodes Most Wanted, or just look at the visuals below:

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My Virgin AMEX Card

by JP on Dec.12, 2009, under General

So I’m a Virgin Black AMEX Card holder. I use it for most of my day-to-day transactions, and these days its accepted in more and more places. That said, historically, many retailers have shunned accepting American Express cards because of the high (5%) transaction fee the card network levies on transactions. My view, as a man on the street, is that this is now changing, or maybe its just my buying habits have changed?

The beauty of my Virgin AMEX card is that as I spend I earn air miles for every pound spent. Being a Virgin card, these miles are redeemable only on Virgin Atlantic flights. But it just so happens that I love to travel AND I’m a big Virgin Atlantic fan, and choose to fly with them over other carriers (so long as they’re flying to where I want to get to, naturally). The Virgin AMEX White Card delivers 1 mile per pound spent, whilst the Virgin AMEX Black Card gives you 2 miles per pound spent. Virgin also have deals with a number of hotel chains and other organisations whereby you are credited with more miles per pound if you use your card to pay.

Downsides of the card is that you’re charged the interest on the full amount you’ve spent IF you fail to pay off the whole balance in a month, and the £115 annual fee on the AMEX Black. Good incentive to pay off the balance!

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Queen Geekery

by JP on Nov.24, 2009, under Found in the wild

The person behind this is either a talented artist, or has WAY too much time on their hands

All good entertainment though :)

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Whats in your Virus/Spyware Detection & HDD toolkit?

by JP on Jun.22, 2009, under General

Every so often, I get a call from a family member or friend, with them wanting to drop their PC off with me as it’s started misbehaving / running slow / just plain doesn’t work. Recently, these have included a PC infected with over a 100 trojans and viri, and a 1 year old Sony Vaio with a hard disc with a number of bad sectors.

Having spent the last weekend working on a couple of machines, I thought it’d be useful to list my PC Toolkit, and I invite others to do the same! Now I realise these sort of posts are what were doing the rounds years earlier, but its still a valid topic today given the increased number of devices attached to the Internet, and the number of computer viruses totalling somewhere north of 1 Million.

Virus Scanning Utilities

My current resident favourite virus scanner is AVG (it should be noted, withOUT the LinkScanner utility).

I also back this up on potentailly infected systems with an on-line scanner, such as the Windows Live OneCare Virus Scanner, which works through the browser and various plugins / ActiveX controls.

Spyware Hunting Utilities

I regularly use that old chestnut (I say old, but its regularly updated) Spybot – Search & Destroy. It has a comprehensive database of potential spyware, and has hooks into the browser to try and protect against malware. It also can exclude cookies from your favourite ad serving and tracking platforms.

There’s also HijackThis which is useful to see whats buried in certain key parts of the hard drive and registry, and allows the user to disable or remove certain programs that may load with Windows or the browser.

System Tools

I’ve recently come to rely on the System Rescue CD, which contains a CD-Bootable verison of Linux with lots of useful tools for checking hard drives, working with HDD partitioning, copying – and even rescuing – data from damaged partitions. It provides utilities to handle secure deletion of data should you want to dispose of an old hard drive. I recently used this set of tools to copy a working Vista installation on a partition which contained damaged sectors to an external hard drive (connected via USB) which would soon replace the internal drive.

NTFSCLONE, NTFSINFO & NTFSTRUNCATE to the rescue!

I used to be a big fan of PartitionMagic, but a) it’s commercial software which requires a license, and b) I’ve had a few instances of it crashing mid-operation and destroying my data (thank you back-ups!). Granted, free software can do the same, but I’ve yet to have an issue with any of the utils on the System Rescue CD.

Process & Network Safety

When checking out a potentially infected PC, whats the best way to do it?
Well, I initially run HiJackThis from a known-clean USB key to get a handle on whats on the machine, and clean what I can.
I then uninstall any virus checking software on the machine, install a fresh copy of AVG (again, from a clean USB), ensure the latest virus definition updates are on it, and then do a full system scan.
Once this has completed, then I connect it to the Internet and run a second virus scan, this time using a different tool (e.g. MS OneCare).

How I also connect the PC via a separate network to the rest of my machines / smartphones etc. I have a Draytek 2820 Router which provides my ADSL connection. This has the ability to create up to 4 separate WiFi networks, each of which can be isolated from each other, and even individual machines on the same WiFi connection.
I also use the firewall abilities of the Draytek to ensure common trouble ports are blocked, e.g. TCP Port 25, Port 443 etc, to stop rouge activity potentially taking place whilst the PC is active on the Internet. Not ideal, I know. I’d rather have all ports except port 80 blocked, but I don’t see how the Draytek can allow this to happen (without setting up heaps of rules).

Anyway, thats the basic methodology. Thus far, its enabled me to clean out all detected trojans and viruses, even if it takes a few reboots and scans in order to do so.

So, does anyone have any suggestions / better tools or techniques for recovering a damanged or infected system?

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It’s been a while…..

by JP on May.27, 2009, under General

…since I last blogged – about anything. Back in 2007 in fact

I used to blog about my experiences with MythTV, amonst other things, but due to work and continutally getting the work / life balance wrong, I left it slip in favour of getting things done.

So now its fast approaching the middle of 2009; my life is somewhat more organised, and I’m setting up this site using WordPress to see what this modern blogging tool can do, and to see where this blog can take me…

Stay tuned. :)

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