Mastermind alliance ...

I attended a group meeting this morning focused around self development, sharing tips and experiences to help entrepreneurs build their business. There is so much content available these days and the meeting was a ‘greatest hits’ of all the best paths to follow for financial freedom and success. We have so much to learn from one another and I was truly grateful for the experience.

Ideas are great but nothing works unless you take the actions and put them into practice. Thankfully I had a couple of meetings this afternoon to try out some new skills.

Watch and learn about others. What type of person are they and how should you interact with them? Listen more, listen deeply and try to understand what you can do to help the pain of your prospect or customer.

It’s okay to be impatient and want to build your business quickly. Just be sure to manage those feelings and manage your expectations.

Use the support of those around you. Work selflessly to help your peers to create a network that others want to be a part of.

Never give up! You Win or you Learn - that’s it!

If you want to come along to the next one you are all very welcome!

Thinking of the retailers ...

I saw an article yesterday citing a member of the clergy (can’t remember who) who was championing the general public taking one day per week to switch off their mobile phones and take a break from technology. It was an interesting read and there is definitely some merit in getting back to basics.

The thought was extended today as we took a walk as a family on this beautiful sunny, cold, crisp day. I’m not a big ‘pointless’ walker but there is something to be said about breathing in the fresh air. It crossed my mind while out that hundreds of ex-colleagues were lining up in their stores for a busy day in retail and that generally Sunday used to be one of the busiest days of the week for me.

It’s completely absurd that our ‘day of rest’ has become a major shopping day, and essentially you cannot work in retail if you are unavailable on Sundays. We have created a monster and it completely detracts from the opportunity for families to spend time together and unwind after a stressful week.

I made the decision last year to say ‘no more’ and change this negative work-life balance. To me it is simply unacceptable not to be present together on this day. Now I choose lay-ins, walks, football and Sunday dinners!

Wouldn’t it be a thing if Brexit delivered a return to old fashioned family values. Bricks and mortar retail is a business in terminal decline anyway, so there is simply no requirement to operate on this day anymore.

The Scandinavians have it right operating a concept called ‘hygge’ - a feeling of family and closeness that is generally embraced together on a Sunday. Why can’t we have that?

So all the retailers, we are thinking of you and thank you for your hard work and efforts today.

Right - I’m off for a nap before the football starts …

I love go-live day ...

A skip and a jump out of bed this morning, as it’s switch on day for Fibre broadband for one of my lovely customers. We all take internet for granted at times but moving to faster speeds from a standard connection really opens up the possibilities and improves performance in the home.

For me, the biggest effect is how video performs from streaming services and I never tire of showing a customer 4K HDR quality footage for the first time. My favourites on Netflix are the Planet Earth series, Chef’s Table and Breaking Bad. I truly believe that watching in this quality completely changes the viewing experience for the customer and actually starts to change what you select to watch!

Today’s customer loves Netflix so I cant wait to help her get set up and then demonstrate the hidden capabilities of her existing TV equipment.

Have you ever changed broadband provider? This can often mean installing a new router, which in turn means that all devices need re-connecting to the internet. This can be troublesome for systems such as SONOS or can affect how boosters or range extenders work. Printers can also be tricky to reconnect.

It’s also important to check the new speeds received are what you are paying for and to get the technical support to optimise the performance of the line.

Here at Gadget Club you are not left to fend for yourself, we will take care of everything for you. We watch for your switch on date and will be there the moment the switch takes place. So kick back, relax and enjoy Super Fast Broadband - and don’t lift a finger!

Energy Price Cap - that didn't last long ...

It’s been a hectic morning running around; once we settle into the rhythm of the day and breakfast is served, for my sins I give BBC News a chance to provide the headlines. They have a curious, mild obsession with energy prices and switching which appears to be on loop in their business section. I can’t work out if they have under the counter agreements with Martin Lewis or affiliations with some major suppliers, but they seem to regularly manage to whip themselves into a frenzy.

The Energy Segment is normally combined with an industry expert barking from a remote link that more people are switching than ever and prices are a fair reflection on the industry. This morning the discussion revolved around OFGEM raising the cap on energy tariffs only ONE MONTH after it was brought in. The cap was introduced to a fanfare of fairness and consistency for all on our energy bills, so this U-turn is truly incredible. The expert predictably explains why it is necessary (it never makes sense) and then suggests that customers are savvy and they can switch to get a better deal. It’s bizarre that the OFGEM representative is now blaming wholesale costs as this was always the mantra of the energy industry!

Anyone on a standard variable tariff could well find themselves £117 per year worse off from April.

The facts are that people aren’t really switching. There are still 11 million people on standard variable tariffs in the UK and only a 2% rise year on year in customers actively making the change. The thing is it’s such a shame to think that the only way to keep prices down is to go through a regular process of shopping around, comparing tariffs and making the switch.

Constant switching damages customer loyalty. It also results in various horrific examples of bad service, bad administration, exit fees, apathetic bosses and employees that don’t care because they know that for every customer lost, there will be another coming in through the revolving door. I’m sure that all most people want is to pay the going rate for what they use with a bit of help and support if things aren’t quite right.

Is FAIR prices for new AND existing customers WITH great service too much to ask?

Get in touch at www.gadgetclub.co.uk/club to get involved in a better way to think about energy.

Meeting Barbara ...

Non-tech related blog but hopeful may raise a smile today.

After an unfortunate turn of events that landed my Mum in hospital yesterday evening there was plenty of good to come out of the situation. My Mum has recently been diagnosed with Motor Neurone, a particularly nasty disease that creeps around attacking the body in the most weird and (not so) wonderful ways.

Hazel’s head has been tilted over for a few weeks now due to the weakness in her neck muscles. This has resulted in her chin applying pressure on a major artery that has resulted in a lack of blood flow to the brain. The bizarre outcome being the whole world being inverted and seeing everything upside down! As a vertigo sufferer anyway this is particularly traumatic and led to an all round scary experience.

Enter Barbara. Barbara is a 93 year old lady that was in the same emergency unit as my Mum due to a run in with the hearth rug resulting in a broken arm and cuts and bruises. Despite her own predicament, she counselled and supported my Mum through the night and offered humour, support and encouragement to get her up and running again. In a startlingly short space of time she build an incredible rapport and friendship that from outside looking in, appeared that they had known one another for years.

As anyone who has visited sick loved ones in hospital this can be a grim affair, but the day mostly became a pleasure due to the efforts of this remarkable woman.

Barbara’s family have cut short a holiday to rush back to be with her, however I’m pretty sure she will want to regain her independence in the shortest time!

So this blog places on record from all of us here our huge thanks to Barbara for taking care of my Mum in her hour of need. I’ve tried to base my business on offering unconditional help to others but I am going to make a special effort this week to ‘pay it forward’ to whoever I can.

Barbara - we salute you!

Three tips to improve your WiFi connection

Internet providers love to over-egg their top speeds when advertising.  In the real world, once ethernet wired connections are removed and other factors considered, the achievable speed is nothing like that promised and can leave us a little underwhelmed.  The good news is that most variations of fibre broadband are more than adequate for the tasks we need to complete in a residential property, so these easy tips will focus on getting the best out of what we have, specifically around WiFi coverage:

1) Position your router correctly

Although this may be dictated by the position of the wall point try to get your router high from the floor and all sides free from obstruction.  Aim for as near to the centre of the room as possible, cables permitting.  Log in to your router on your computer or tablet and fix a channel for the router to ensure limited interference from neighbours.  Type the IP address (192.168.x.x) into your search bar, enter the user name and password (usually written on the router) and I recommend trying channel '1' as a place to start your tests.

If you can't find your IP address just google 'log into (provider) router' and you'll find it there.

2) Upgrade firmware

While you are logged in it's worth checking if there are any updates available for the firmware of your router.  This will install additional features and hopefully performance enhancements.  Believe it or not manufacturers want you to have the best experience too!

3) Buy more equipment!

Big houses with specific challenges such as layout and thick walls can make WiFi difficult to receive in certain places.  There are products that can help such as range extenders or power line networking that use different methods to achieve better coverage.  These can be adequate if it's a small problem, however I strongly recommend the new dawn of 'Mesh' networks (Netgear, Linksys and Google have some excellent products) that could transform lacklustre WiFi coverage in your home.

Every house has the capability for excellent WiFi coverage if you are prepared to test and analyse performance and understand the factors that will make the necessary improvements.

Here at Gadget Club these tests and improvements are all part of the service if you are considering switching internet provider or looking for new solutions for your home.

You can learn more by sending me a message and booking your appointment!

 

Goodbye MacBook ... Hello Chrome

Well today's the day I put my money where my mouth is and end a ten year love in with Apple and their computing range.  I will be picking up my shiny new Google PixelBook from the store - and I can't wait!

The PixelBook is a thing of beauty in it's ultra thin, light chassis and I am looking forward to a new level of lightning fast computing unrivalled in today's market due to running Chrome OS.  I like the Chromebook platform now because it's secure, stable, easy to use, and self-maintains. And Chrome OS is more like mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS -- a clean break from the dinosaur systems of Windows and Apple.  The 1TB of Free Google Drive storage for 3 years looks a fantastic gift with the purchase too!

I'm hoping the battery life performs as expected and keeps me working all day long.  I've heard in reviews the display and sound is slightly better on the Mac but only just.  I think I can live with that.  My slight concern is finding a way to replicate video production and management, particularly via the webcam and a microphone - but I'm sure I'll work it out.

I'm not quite ready to send my portable devices the same way so the iPhone and iPad stays for now as my photos slowly make their way into Google Photos.  I'm locked into a family sharing account on Apple that all the parents use for music so it's a tricky one to pull immediately!

I've been through changing systems before when I was seduced by the Microsoft SurfaceBook at launch which turned out to be a disastrous piece of hardware.  I just hope it's a well built computer that can stand the test of time like a MacBook can.  I'm always happy to adapt the way I work as long as problems don't occur that are out of my control.

I guess we will see!

Finally the price - a deal of £250 off at £749 makes this an absolute steal and looks like a price point that could really disrupt the market of high end computing.  That's almost £500 cheaper than the MacBook which is real food for thought.  

I hope you'll follow the progress of my new experience - the main reason for it being to keep you as well informed as I can about this new computing option.  I'm always happy to visit and provide a demo - you can book yours at:

http://fb.me/msg/deangadgetclub

Here's to an exciting day; there is nothing like getting a new gadget to play with!

Is your internet speed hurting your NETFLIX?

Unless you are living in a field miles from the nearest exchange the days of 'buffering' for Most (sorry those that live remotely!) are pretty much over.  Every day streaming of Catch Up TV or online movie services becomes more common therefore so is the recognition of the need for decent internet.

I thought I would spend a minute or two on Netflix as I am noticing a common occurrence on my in home visits.  Netflix is massive, has some amazing exclusive programmes and movies and for me represents great value and great quality viewing. 

Many customers are unaware that there are 3 tiers of Netflix membership which are Basic (£5.99 per month) Standard (£7.99) and Premium (£9.99). 

The first major difference is the ability to use on 1,2 and 4 screens respectively.  Handy if you want to share your membership with other family members for example.

The majority of people I meet are on the £7.99 plan.  This is because this is generally the option offered on the free trial or what older customers have been switched to.

Now the critical point about this plan is that the viewing experience is only transmitted in HD (High Definition).  This is okay on a smaller screen or an older TV but is problematic if you took the plunge and invested in a new 4K (Ultra High Definition) HDR (High Dynamic Range) smart TV. 

Netflix provides one of only a few ways to experience beautiful Ultra HD movies and TV shows and in my opinion it just doesn't make sense to settle if you have the technology available and ready. 

A simple click in your membership options (albeit for an extra £2 per month) will unlock your TVs potential and get that showroom picture you were shown when you decided to stump up to buy it.  

I guarantee you will not be disappointed.  If you explore the programmes and check the summary it will tell you clearly the quality of image you will receive once you upgrade.  Even a bang average movie can be watchable just to inspect the detail and beautiful imagery and revel in the magnificence of your TV.

So why did talking about internet lead to Netflix.  A WORD OF CAUTION.  If you are not getting good speeds the Netflix software will downgrade your image anyway so the upgrade would be a waste of money.  If you are on any kind of fibre internet speeds (20-25mb+) this should be more than enough.

You can download the 'Speed Test' app on your phone to check your speed.

If you want to discuss or are unsure about internet speeds get in touch!

 

Chromebook Myths Part 1

I am so impressed with the current line up of chromebooks now available to the computing customer.  There are budget options, small portables, 2 in 1 convertibles and high power premium ranges.  There really is an option for every occasion. 

However there are still questions holding punters back that I hope to explore through my posts. 

Change shouldn't be feared if it genuinely offers something new and improved and I believe the chromebook ramps up the computing experience in one way or another for most general users.

The first step is always to embrace the change - then you can become prepared in the wonderful world of chromebook laptops.

Let's get rid off some of the easy (old) objections first:

1) You can't do much on them except for surf the internet ...

This was actually quite true in the beginning when there wasn't as much third party cloud based software about such as Canva, Sage and Office 365.  The big change came a while back with the introduction of the Google Play store which immediately unlocked 4 MILLION apps - that's double what's in the Apple Store.  So put simply your laptop now has access to the largest bank of software on the planet.  If you can think of it you can probably do it! 

2) I can't use Word, Excel or Powerpoint ...

Not true.  You can download the apps from the store and with a 365 licence (around £39 per year) you can run these programs on your chromebook.  The question though is why would you want to?  Google offer Docs, Sheets and Slides COMPLETELY FREE.  In fact, Microsoft have been desperately playing catch up with features that allow sharing and real time collaboration on files with others.  The file formats will open just fine on a Windows computer if you need this.

3) I get much more storage on my Windows laptop ...

For what?  The only place your files, videos and photo memories should be kept to be truly safe are on an external drive or in the Cloud.  Your laptop should always be a work in progress.  Most entertainment content for music and cinema is streamed these days (rather than downloaded).

No space needed for a large and clunky operating system either!  

You'll also receive 100Gb of FREE cloud storage for two years with your new chromebook.

So here are some thoughts to hopefully get you interested in thinking about a switch in the future.  I have used one for nearly a year now for the majority of my work and I am very happy.  

I'm always available in the calendar to come and give a demonstration.  Get in touch!

I still love a good book - in all formats

Anyone that knows me understands I have a lifelong connection with books.  For those that enjoyed University life you know the cost of picking up the Recommended Texts' (usually written by the lecturers and updated vaguely once per year to encourage a repeat purchase - I'm looking at you Dr 16th Edition).  This was particularly true in Law and I built up quite a collection.  In fact at Bar School I'm pretty sure most of the course fees were taken up in leather bound books.  You literally wheeled them home in suitcases.  Some I'm ashamed to admit weren't even opened!

Technology has moved on and the book has evolved.  Kindle revolutionised how we consume content and finally e-books overtook the hard copy.  The debate raged on about 'which was better?' but if more people are reading, then I guess that's okay with me.

Personally I love 'Readily' a subscription based app providing all your favourite magazines in one place - it looks brilliant on iPad.  Also, if only people knew more of the power of their phones to stream amazing audiobooks (read by the greats), podcasts (Jocko Willink, Navy Seal) and spoken word, that morning commute could become a powerful learning tool.  If everyone used their journey to study their subject field that's 500 hours of education per year, for free.  Who needs University?

Everything in moderation I say.  Children for example just can't comprehend a digital book and the touch and feel of the text and pictures adds a special dimension to reading.  We took great pleasure in buying some new books for the school holiday this weekend and Archie is lapping them up.  I still write in law occasionally and I find myself going back to the source material.  There is no finer pleasure than consuming case notes, the books are a work of art.  By the way anyone can use the University libraries so you are free to study whatever you like!

There has to be a better solution for local libraries to endorse digital content, but sat here with a lovely coffee and a lovely atmosphere - I can't help but think the shelves look TOO full.  Use them or lose them.  I'm hoping to use them for some drop ins very soon - watch this space!

 

Earn Crypto Cash While You Walk?

Most people have an idea what cryptocurrency is by now and the interest and curiosity show no sign of slowing down.  As an investment opportunity it’s not for the faint-hearted and feels closer to gambling than a smart money move.

Anyway, many entrepreneurs are on the bandwagon and looking for a unique way to end cash as a thing and convert us all to Cryptos.  This week SWEAT COIN landed in my timeline out of nowhere.  Cryptocurrency for banging out a few steps every day?  Sounds promising!

The app has ‘gone viral’ and a quick search in the stores you’ll see it hanging around the top ten.  The app will pay you ‘Sweat coins’ for getting outside and walking.  Steps are recorded on the app via GPS and you are awarded according to your work completed.

Sweat coins can be spent within the apps on goods, vouchers and services.  The offers are quite limited at the moment, but the founders promise this will expand rapidly soon. 

Eventually the idea is to be listed on the crypto-currency exchange, so your wallet may become quite an asset if the coin performs well.  There is a long way to go until that stage, but it is an interesting thought.

The app will only track steps outside so it’s coat and wellies on to rack up the coins.  Treadmill support etc. is in development but it’s not ready yet.

You can’t use a Fitbit or Apple Watch either it must be the smartphone that track your steps.  It’s quite a drain on the battery I’ve found so far which is a bit annoying and something I’m sure is being addressed as we speak.

There are different member levels that unlock the ability to earn more coins per day if you get through the miles.  You pay the subscription out of your sweat coin wallet so there is no cash investment to upgrade.

What are they worth?  Well a Fitbit Flex costs about £50 and is available on the app for 375 sweat coins.  I have 24 sweat coins so far after walking 19600 steps (2 days).

My pigeon maths tell me that if I carry on walking at this rate I could purchase after about a month.  The irony of buying fitness equipment with my sweat coins is not lost!

Give a try - I'd love to hear how you get on!

Bank Holiday shopping MAYDAY MAYDAY: Updated

So here we are heading into another Bank Holiday.  This is traditionally one of the better times to hunt for a bargain in the electrical market and Gadget Club is here to guide you through the process.  I'll point you in the right direction to a fantastic new purchase.

So if you’re looking for a new television, laptop or tablet then saddle up, this could be the time for you.  I’ll be spending the next two weeks doing all the preparation for you, giving you the low down on what type of deals you can expect, hints and tips on what products to look out for and making plenty of recommendations.

Again, the marketing, promotions and sale prices have started earlier than ever this year particularly with the disruption to retail by the snow days in Easter.  Price movement and deals are already appearing this week.

March, April, May sees a scramble to reduce stock holding and make every penny count before the end of the financial year.  This can pave the way for some real bargains, but also mixed in are some bum deals left over from Christmas that didn’t sell then and probably shouldn’t sell now.

I’m here and ready to help provide great advice this May Bank Holiday.  In my opinion a great purchase is a well built, quality product that will stand the test of time and deliver an excellent result at a competitive price.  I’m not seduced by Too Good To Be True exclusives and neither should you be.

So it’s probably the week to start planning for your purchase and thinking carefully about ‘measure twice, buy once’ and the budget you want to commit to your next purchase.

If you want a helping hand through the process book a FREE in home consultation and I’ll go through all the right products for you and what the perfect installation looks like.  You can email me directly or go to www.gadgetclub.co.uk/free.

If your going it alone, follow my guides and tips over the next two weeks to make sure you get it right first time. 

WiFi Security Cameras for 2018

With voice assistants such as Alexa becoming more mainstream in the home, it’s a great time to explore the features and benefits of additional products that make up the ‘internet of things’.  Gadgets in the home are wonderful for taking care of our entertainment needs, but you may be more cautious to hand the keys of your home over to technology.

There is no need to worry.  With the universal adoption of smartphones, HD video quality, fast Wi-Fi and user-friendly software it’s easier than ever to buy a robust smart-home security system.

New technology requires a simple approach, so let’s look at the three main things to consider when shopping for a good Wi-Fi Security Camera:

Quality of the footage produced

Most cameras will film in High Definition, but there could be a notable difference in picture quality between a 720p and 1080p Full HD device.  For example, in the unfortunate event of a break in, this could make all the difference to achieve a positive identification. 

Also look out for face detection and facial recognition modes that will help increase the likelihood of the camera interpreting movement as that of a potential intruder.

Making video is most challenging in low light conditions so features such as night mode will help deliver the best possible results.  Recording can be triggered on some models through motion detection to really increase the sensitivity of lockdown around your house.

Don’t forget about audio recording where one-way audio lets you listen into the action or choose two-way audio for a full open line of communication.

Storage Options

There are two main ways to store your camera recordings to consider.  Video files are considerably large in size so understanding how much footage you wish to keep stored is important.

Cloud storage is a popular way to keep your precious photos and videos safe and security cameras have a similar option.  If you are planning on archiving continuous recordings over a number of days or weeks, then this is a clever solution.  You’ll be able to access your files from anywhere and they’ll be kept completely secure.  Be aware that there is usually a monthly subscription charge for larger storage plans.

Internal storage is a functional alternative with no on-going costs. and Your footage would be recorded on to an SD card, usually sold separately.

App control and connectivity

Your camera will provide an app for your smartphone that enable you to control your camera remotely.  You’ll also be able to view live or recorded footage.  Look for an intuitive app with plenty of settings to really fit your home security experience to how you want it.

Over time your smart-home will continue to expand, so check for great compatibility with other devices such as Alexa, lights, heating and alarms.  This will enable you to enhance your cameras with other gadgets and develop skills to maximise your home security system.  Getting this right is a sure-fire way to future proof your existing set up.

Total peace of mind when you are away from your home.  2018 is the time to beef up your home security and explore this year’s fantastic range of Wi-Fi security cameras.  As always I'm available to help if this is something you would like to discuss.

The Stupid Bankers ...

What a set of Bankers.  Nearly a week on and TSB have admitted that internet banking is only running at 50% capacity.  In the Digital Age cash for most technology proficient customers is really just a number on a screen and on a personal level its very rare I carry cash these days (not unlike the Queen).

Banking systems are super critical.  It's pay day week and a large proportion of the country are totally reliant on their wages landing when they are expected to start the chain reaction of paying the growing list of direct debits that are due.  Failure to pay has consequences, which is hugely frustrating and potentially damaging for the individual affected.  The customer then has to do the donkey work to correct the situations, hopefully not including fixing credit scores.

The crisis is far reaching from small businesses worried about making VAT payments, late tuition fees, late credit card payments and holiday makers unable to access funds.

I've recently had first hand experience of my credit card not functioning on the other side of the world and anyone that has had this will empathise with the stress and chills this sends.  I spent £20 on phone calls to my card provider to be told eventually that all was fine (funny how this was the first time this has happened since they stopped recording your holiday destination for fraud purposes to cut costs).

TSB have now turned to IBM and are flying in the Experts to turn the computers off and on again.  It would be interesting to know who will pick up that hefty fee or how it will be recorded in the books.

Chief of the bank Paul Pester must have one eye on his potential £1.6 million bonus as momentum gathers for his resignation.  I'm sure everyone is aware that only in banking are huge bonuses awarded on the back of startling failure to carry out a role or deliver results.

The bank will waive all overdraft charges and interest charges (which wouldn't have occurred had the problems not occurred) and bizarrely are raising interest paid on balances up to £1500 from 3% to 5% for customers that stay.  What a typical banking attitude to throw money at it and hope it sticks.

The irony is that branches are closing all the time as customers migrate to on-line banking but it's at times like these these people really need a human interaction and reassurance.  It's the advisers in the branches I really feel sorry for here; I'm sure they are mown out with angry punters as they are left picking up the pieces of the systems designed to ultimately make them redundant.

We are too far gone to go back to stashing money under the bed but at the very least customers should vote with their feet and take their business elsewhere. 

For your information it's very easy to move your account to someone that cares and it's completely automated.

Or is it ...

Early to bed, early to rise ...

I'm sat here at 4:45am, I'm already one beautiful espresso to the good and the words are flowing.  For me the power of the early morning is definitely a real thing.  The peace and quiet and sheer calm of the moment is something to behold and a great experience.

Much has been written and lauded on early rising and it would seem that a significant proportion of successful people (certainly in business) come flying out of the blocks early morning.  You read about meditation practices, journalling, exercising, breakfast and productivity right through to some of the more bizarre rituals.

No matter what you do with the time or why you do it, we have turned the corner into Spring the lighter mornings and early sunrises certainly make it easier.  

For me, I do it because simply I'm more creative in the mornings and prefer the more operational tasks later in the day.  There is a significant change in my thought processes as the day unfolds so I have to segment my jobs list accordingly for maximum productivity.  It's interesting society mostly pigeon hole employees into the typical 9-5 role without really understanding that every individual is different and may offer more earlier or (much) later in the day. 

This could be the key to unlocking a significant positive shift in your business.  Spend five minutes studying the working requirements of millennials and it's clear that dragging this generation of employees in to work early is likely to be counter-productive.  You can take this one step further and if a project is not location dependant, as long as the deadline is achieved I'm sure work could be done at anytime of day from any location (especially with the technology available to collaborate and communicate remotely).  

I have met several customers and other businesses in the last few months that work from home on their own stuff, working unconventional hours - but being super productive.  I can't say the working world would miss those peak time traffic jams too much either.

I've opened a discussion about this over on the #30daybeachclubchallenge group here.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas on when you are in the flow and at your best.  Hope to see you there.

 

 

 

Amazon Can't Do That .. Revisited

Not too long ago I wrote a post called  'Amazon Can't Do That' which was quite prescriptive of how I thought Amazon had won the retail war.  I wrote that the only way left to compete on the High Street was to operate on a different level in stores and to truly love and entertain customers with our niche.

A few months on and the Ghost of Christmas Past has really dug in and today the BBC reported that there will be another cull and many more stores going to the wall.  To be fair Toys R Us and Maplin make up half of those businesses so this significantly inflates the story - however the statistics still describe a dark future for the High Street.

I've changed my tune (or at least curbed it) as I know of at least one local business that has decided to close and I know with a bit more luck they would have survived as their proposition was special, niche and customer service excellent.  There was just too many outside influences.  Hopefully these shops will find a good home online and may thrive once more.

There was some good news with some High Streets literally thinking 'outside the box' using the spaces for Escape Rooms and Adventure Games.  I like this idea and particularly in a town like Huddersfield I think about welcoming support for creative space for our excellent artists, designers and even sporting heroes.

From a personal perspective, less stores strengthen my position as a consultant and supplier.  As long as I can attend events that display the products I want to recommend then I can source products at great prices via the internet.  Then - as long as my service is remarkable I think I have a decent offering for my customer. 

Therefore I'm choosing to look through the window of a previous life with interest, but without too much regret that I'm not in the thick of it.  Somebody soon, be it the landlords, the town planners, the councils or the big retail players have to become visionaries and build a new proposition from the ground up, or the demolition job may continue.  Who will be brave enough to set the ball rolling on a new idea for the future?

How long until the big question - do we need shops AT ALL?  If they weren't there would we REALLY miss them?  AND if they aren't there what will we replace them with (that isn't a coffee shop, bar or restaurant)?

I wonder if Amazon are eyeing all these empty units as distribution centres?

Welcome to Alexa

Alexa is Amazon's digital assistant built into devices such as the Amazon Echo.

It belongs inside the Echo smart speaker and other devices, and offers users the ability to say instructions to control different products throughout their home.  This experience can be enhanced further through use of 'skills' of which over 7000 are available.

Some Alexa Skills connect to smart devices, bringing voice control to a smart home from smart lights to locks, smart thermostats to televisions and more.  Alexa becomes the central hub from which other smart devices can be controlled.  Amazon by now is licensing the Alexa interface to other manufacturers widening the number of gadgets where Alexa can be used.

Here are some commands that would do exactly what you think they would:

“Alexa - what are your deals?” (find a bargain on www.amazon.co.uk)

“Alexa set timer for 2 minutes” (set a timer for 2 minutes)

“Alexa, set an alarm for 7 am using BBC news on TuneIn” (radio alarm)

"Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride" (order a taxi)

“Alexa, what’s my flash briefing” (get your personalised morning news)

“Alexa open 5 minute workout” (get sweaty, quickly)

“Alexa ask the bartender to make a drink” (cocktail ideas)

“Alexa ask my buddy to alert Samantha” (Emergency help for someone in trouble)

“Alexa tell bedtime story to Archie” (read a personalised bedtime story)

“Alexa open the magic door” (play a real life adventure game)

“Alexa ask fuel finder where’s the cheapest diesel” (lowest local petrol prices)

Key third party products that will link in very nicely are NEST and PHILIPS lighting.  It really is the tip of the iceberg for Smart Home and Alexa frankly is miles ahead of the competition in bringing this type of world together.

For the beginner the question is where to start.  The good news is I've put together a set of handy videos that might help you begin to understand what the "control centre of Alexa" looks and feels like.  Personally I think an Amazon Echo Dot for around £50 is a low risk test case to see whether Smart Home is something that you may wish to explore.  The videos were all made using the Dot as an example and I think you'll find the results are pretty impressive.

I'm taking a pre-planned break for two weeks which is a little frustrating as things are really going well.  I think this fantastic content should help keep the momentum going.  Don't forget you can still place orders and I'll complete the work on my return.  There is no need to rush technology.

Watch out for this six part series walking you through the Alexa App.  She behaved impeccably throughout and I think they show how great new technology can be.

The videos cover:  music, video and books, lists, reminders and timers, contacts, routines and the big one - introduction to Smart Home.  I hope you enjoy them!  See you on the other side.

Happy Easter - already - I guess?

“My gut feeling is that the marketing, promotions and sale prices will start earlier than ever this year particularly with the disruption to retail by the snow days.  In fact we could well see price movement and deals start to appear from this week.” - Dean Horn, Monday 19th March 2018.

Don’t say I didn’t tell you so - it looks like our earliest Easter ever and some deals have started to land around and about in some of the key players.  It’s the usual stuff with big reductions on some key lines of large screen TVs, laptops and smart home tech.

The great news is that there has been significant movement on some of my absolute favourites in the 2017/2018 calendar so look out for some cracking prices on OLED particularly.

I’ve handily compiled a chart of my absolute favourite products on the website at www.gadgetclub.co.uk which you can access via the navigation bar.  The site is also fully functioning now for all payment options - so be careful!

You’ll probably have noticed that my presentation of products is not like anything you may have seen before.  My goal has always been to leave my customers with a unique buying experience that lives on long after the initial purchase.  A purchase can be whatever you want it to be and is completely customisable to the customer, whether that is in products, complimentary add ons, time and service.

The “Top Charts” are my absolute top recommendations of what I think would be a superb solution for most customers, where you can sit back and let everything happen.  These products are assured to deliver quality and performance so study them carefully.  This work is based on my own testing and experience as well as many on-line and off-line reviews.

This work is underpinned by my “Gadget Club Magic Touch Guarantee” which means the jobs will be completed to your total specification and satisfaction every time.  If it’s not it’ll be fixed - you can be sure of that.

If they are not for you and you want to build it from the ground up you can do this in the “tailor it” section.  Nothing is too much trouble or impossible.

So website, free phone number and card machine in hand, Easter starts here.  I’ll continue to upload my recommendations and make them available for you and even if you don’t shop with Gadget Club this time please feel free to use the website for great product suggestions.

Happy Easter - already - I guess?

Easter Sale guidance from Gadget Club

Easter is around the corner, just two weeks away.  This is traditionally one of the better times to hunt for a bargain in the electrical market and Gadget Club is here to guide you through the process.  I'll point you in the right direction to a fantastic new purchase.

So if you’re looking for a new television, laptop or tablet then saddle up, this could be the time for you.  I’ll be spending the next two weeks doing all the preparation for you, giving you the low down on what type of deals you can expect, hints and tips on what products to look out for and making plenty of recommendations.

My gut feeling is that the marketing, promotions and sale prices will start earlier than ever this year particularly with the disruption to retail by the snow days.  In fact we could well see price movement and deals start to appear from this week.

March, April, May sees a scramble to reduce stock holding and make every penny count before the end of the financial year.  This can pave the way for some real bargains, but also mixed in are some bum deals left over from Christmas that didn’t sell then and probably shouldn’t sell now.

I’m here and ready to help provide great advice this Easter.  In my opinion a great purchase is a well built, quality product that will stand the test of time and deliver an excellent result at a competitive price.  I’m not seduced by Too Good To Be True exclusives and neither should you be.

So it’s probably the week to start planning for your purchase and thinking carefully about ‘measure twice, buy once’ and the budget you want to commit to your next purchase.

If you want a helping hand through the process book a FREE in home consultation and I’ll go through all the right products for you and what the perfect installation looks like.  You can email me directly or go to www.gadgetclub.co.uk/free.

If your going it alone, follow my guides and tips over the next two weeks to make sure you get it right first time. 

Today's updates - should be yours

Most gadgets and technology require software or an operating system to talk to the hardware and give it instructions to function.  Software also enables the user to interact with a device and control it.  When a product is initially launched it will have been comprehensively planned, programmed and tested to work as the inventor, company or organisation intended.

However, it is only when a product is in the public domain that the process of development can begin proper.  Live feedback from customers on user issues, security threats, quirks, bugs, problems and suggested improvements can be collated.  Programmers can then use this information to adapt the code and evolve the product.  

Support is generally provided by a team for the life cycle of a product and takes the form of updates pushed to the user via the internet.

Updates are really important because:

  1. They solve problems with the software.  No software is perfect and runs smoothly all of the time;
  2. They can solve security holes in the software. These holes, in theory, need to be plugged from allowing unwanted visitors to get into your devices to access personal data;
  3. They provide new features and benefits to make the products you use smarter, with better functionality.

A failure to keep on top of updates can mean your devices aren’t current, are not performing at the optimum level and may also be at risk of threats.  There are some simple actions to put this right:

  1. Start with your mobile phone, computer, tablet and television.  These are almost certainly connected to the internet and will have the ability to update.  Find the option to update in your system settings and complete;
  2. On the same devices think about applications or Apps.  These will require updating separately from the main operating system.  This action will be carried out in the App store or App area on the device;
  3. Now think about other devices such as games consoles, watches, blu ray players, TV boxes, smart-tech, MP3 players, TV sticks, cameras and speakers.  It may be a bit trickier to find the option to update on the device itself.  If it isn’t in the system settings menu, then try through an App;
  4. Take advantage of any settings that allow for automatic updates.  You won’t have to remember to do it this way;
  5. Put a date in your calendar each month to check all your products for updates and make it happen.

Software updates will keep your devices current, faster, fresher and safer for longer and is essential for care and protection of your products.

Review your gadgets and tech today - you may be surprised.