Getting the mix just right…

So it’s been a tad quite here recently.  One of the reasons was that my Mum was over from England for a visit – her first in 4 years.  She dutifully brought gifts for everyone, but the one thing I asked for her to bring was a Pork Pie.  Odd request maybe, but it’s been 6 years today since I lived in the UK and I could get them anytime.

pork pie packagingYou may also thinks its an odd thing to write about here.  Well I suppose the Pork Pie (though excellent) isn’t the thing I wanted to write about.  It’s how the manufacturer’s talk to their customers.

Take the packing.  Usually ignored as we’ve skimmed the “instructions” for eating & storage a thousand times, but with this brand you should pay a little attention.  They obviously have a sense of humour with tid-bits such as:
Where to put this pie (apart from your stomach!) Fridge, good. Airing cupboard bad.

You can also contact their horrified customer service if your pie is in less than great shape.

The company that makes these particular pies are Pork Farms and you can see the humour continue as they took part in the 2007 UK Comedy Awards. They have TV ads that carry this through as well.  I decided to be cheeky and email them, letting them know how much I missed their products and if there was anywhere in the USA I could get them.

I expected an automated response, but was surprised I got an email from a real person the next day, asking for my physical address.

A week later I signed for a registered letter from the UK.  From Pork Farms.  In it was a nice note explaining why they couldn’t ship stuff to the USA but that were happy that I liked the product.  Also money-off coupons I could use for my next trip over to the UK.

Gary Vaynerchuck is always saying that part of his success is answering every email.  This communication and connection helps to build his brand.  Pork Farms found their voice, through humour, which goes from packaging, advertising and the promotion of the company.  They responded not only electronically but physically, sending something to me – someone who can’t buy their products, is an ocean away, and is essentially a non-customer.

This is the kind of connection that most companies miss as they think an automated email is good enough.  Next step for Pork Farms would be to start reaching out into the social web. And shipping to the USA of course.

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I know the economy is a little shaky but…

Picture the scene – 10am on a Sunday morning and the phone rings. Its someone from the bank we have an auto loan with.  After some of the usual ID verification malarkey we get down to business – when are we planning on paying?

We check online with our bank whilst they are on the phone – Did we miss a payment? No. Are we late? No.

In fact it’s not due until Tuesday (remember its Sunday) and its scheduled to clear Monday. So why are they phoning?  Just to ask and check if we plan on paying on the same day, with the same amount through the same method that we have for over a year.

This is also the same bank that we had the lease, for the same car, through for 5 years. Never missing or late with any of those payments.

Surely things are this bad that my payment is going to keep them afloat.

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TweetFeed in beta

So there’s a new little site called TweetFeed (beta) that’s been pulling time away from my other online pursuits.

TweetFeed lets you build pages to display the latest Twitter activity around any topic or keyword. This means with a set of advanced search commands and a little tweaking to the HTML & CSS you can build pages like this one about power outages on September 14th (we are experiencing the after-effects of Hurricane Ike).

TweetFeed gives you a real nice set of operators, though it does take a little finagling to get some of my pages to show results.  I think a big part of this isn’t TweetFeed but more how people construct their tweets.

This might be a good tool to see how and why people are talking about you or your product or an event (if Twitter sorts out their XMPP service).

Why not sign up and give it a go.

PS – This would’ve posted last night but guess what. Our power went out at 10.30pm.

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Cheap international mobile web access for all…

So my Mum is on a visit from the UK at the moment and one thing she did was but a new mobile phone for the trip.

She wanted to keep in contact with my sister back in the UK and with my Nan, but her old mobile phone would not work in the USA.  So she went to her local Tesco’s and purchased one for £20 and what a bargain it was! on mobileThis Motorola W377 phone can browse the internet, send SMS, work overseas, pick up FM radio, take photos and a whole host of other features.  All for less than $40.  Now it is a pay-as-you-go phone through Virgin, so pulling my web site up & checking voice mail  did deplete the funds a little, but still, to buy the same spec over here is around $80.

I think this shows the leaps & bounds the rest of the world has got over the USA on mobile acceptance.  That I could go and get a fully-featured phone, that will do what I need, for little expense and I would have no qualms ditching it if I wanted too after a trip.

Also, by using CSS on my freelance web design site pulled it up fairly fast and was usable.

update: Apparently all the calls my Mum makes she will recieve Tesco reward points (same as if she went shopping) which she can use towards gas etc.  Great idea all round.

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Was Google Chrome released a little too early?

So this week saw Google release its own browser, Chrome.  But did they rush it and is it worthing downloading?

Google Chrome logoNow Chrome is built upon Webkit and Firefox 3 as well as the new JavaScript V8 virtual machines from Denmark.  The V8 enables each of its tabs to run independently, so if something causes a crash in one tab the whole browser will keep going. The Webkit/Firefox combo keeps the whole thing web standards friendly.

Tech aside, in my opinion I think it was a little rushed.   As soon as the comic was made public extolling the virtues of Chrome, people were clamoring for it, which is great.  But as soon as the downloads started so did the questions.

As of Sept. 4th Chrome had already taken 6% of the market.  So is this the IE killer we’ve been waiting for?  Well Paul Boag has a good post on  that which I agree with a lot of.  I personally don’t think this version is, but a later version? Maybe.

The problem (as Paul points out) is a lot of people still think of the internet as that little “blue e” and would never think of using anything else – why should they?  This is still the battle Firefox faces.  The thing on Google’s side is its apps (being touted on TV commercials for C2) which Chrome will probably join soon, and offering it on their own homepage.

So should you download it?  Yes, I think so.  Anything that can improve your web experience is a good thing and so far it’s run pretty well on our old laptop and my shiny new one but it hasn’t replaced Flock as my default.

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The newest arrival in the Mead household…

cardboard boxI came home Thursday and there it was.  A nice dull-brown cardboard box sitting on the table. Within lay my first-ever self-bought laptop.

I have always used the ones from my work, but when I started at my new job I felt this was the chance to have my own.  I consulted Tom (oracle of laptops) and wanted something as similar as I could get to the Dell Latitude D820 I had at Optiem.  He fired me across some recommendations and I settled on the Acer Extensa 5620Z.

This laptop comes with 4 USB ports, S-Video and one for our digital video camera. The 3GB of RAM and 160GB HD is nice, though I’m not a fan of the pre-partitioning 70/70.

It’s pretty light weight, has a built in web cam and Vista installed (which I’m giving a week to see if I need to go back to XP).

new laptopIt has been a little tedious installing everything (couldn’t deactivate my Fireworks CS4 beforehand) but so far everything is going well.  The screen is good, camera is working, and my fingers are getting used to the new keyboard.

So I’m now loading it up with Flock, Evernote, Open Office, VLC media player, Miro and a lot other fave apps.  Only problem so far has been iTunes not seeing the music on the external drive without importing it all again.  Glenn pointed  me to an article that  might help so I’ll check that.

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