I’m in the middle of my 8th9th 12th house move in 19 years so am well practised! It occurred to me while ticking off things that I needed to do that I should document the process both for my own benefit (I may move again!) and for the benefit of others. I’d like to present a list of things like Addresses you might need to change, how and who to contact to change them, etc.. Continue reading Moving House Checklist and Tips
I’d like to announce a brand new place where Musicians in Ireland, north or south can join up and find romance! Having looked for something similar on Facebook and come up with nothing local and being sick of the usual dating sites and apps, I decided to build one myself.
It’s a free Facebook group where musicians, whether you sing in the shower or gig professionally, can interact with each other, put up bios and chat privately, with a view to meeting someone special.
The only requirements are that you are single, musical, based on the island of Ireland and willing to interact and be cool about it!
Shaw Academy, with offices in Dublin, Ireland among other places are an online learning company which has grown greatly over the last 10 years or so. They are a fairly well recognised brand and I’ve often thought of signing up for a course with them. At the beginning of December I spotted an Ad on Facebook for a Sound Engineering Course which is right up my street. I’d seen the ad loads of times but finally decided to click on it and sign up. The ad was for a 4 week, no catch free trial. You sign up, add a payment method, PayPal in my case, and get access to your course. Or so I expected.
My thinking was that I had a bit of free time coming up over Xmas and might get through the course in those 4 weeks but as soon as I subscribed I was told the earliest I could start the course was the following Monday, about a week and a half later and a week and a half out of my free trial. Also, I noticed that the course material and certificate also had to be purchased. Not so free after all eh!? Deciding that that was a bit underhanded and didn’t suit me, I decided to cancel the trial before I started. Free trial cancellation links are always hard to find but I found the link. I was pretty surprised to find that I had to call a number and talk to someone to actually fully cancel! Really!? I was soon to find out why.
A South African sounding girl came on the phone and asked me how she could help me. As soon as I asked to cancel my account she started off on her sales rambling and didn’t allow me speak. I thought I was talking to a machine at one point. I was offered all kinds of incentives to stay including free access to course materials, free certificates, free add-on course time, etc.. I calmly and patiently let her finish, angry now that she ignored my simple request to cancel and even more adamant that I wanted away then when she finished I repeated again that I just wanted to cancel. She dejectedly gave in and said my membership had been cancelled and apologised for any inconvenience caused. I hung up satisfied and relieved and noticed a cancellation email come in almost immediately:
Imagine my surprise when the cancellation email was followed swiftly by a PayPal payment notification of a payment of €39.99 to Shaw Academy!? There was no indication on it what the payment was for either as you can see below:
I immediately emailed Shaw Academy and also created a PayPal dispute over the payment. No reply. A week later and PayPal cant find in my favour as I couldn’t provide any documentation re my billing agreement with Shaw. Something they never sent me, On purpose I’m guessing. Shaw finally replied to me and said they couldn’t refund as the payment was taken for a certificate I apparently purchased and once the certificate is created it cant be taken back. A certificate I purchased for a course I never took and never even started!? Ok. Also, I’m still getting a ton of emails telling me I’ve missed course dates for a course that’s supposed to be cancelled. What a flawed system! Shaw sent me a link to their terms where I seen this straight away:
The modern world of marketing is a very competitive place and companies routinely use whatever marketing tricks they can to make money, regardless of the customer experience. Shaw Academy is one of the worst examples I’ve seen in a long time. The desperate measures they go to to take money for services never provided and the lack of caring they have for the customer experience is breath-taking. They might make a short term profit but ultimately they and companies like them will fail as more and more people look for real honesty and value from companies.
For more about honest marketing Seth Godin has an excellent book:
And for a better and more professional online learning experience, try Lynda.com now “Linkedin Learning”:
I was recently asked to overlay some sign language over a “How To” video for the new Covid mobile app. This involved removing the background from the signer, resizing and repositioning both her and the main video and adding subtitles.
I was watching a video on my Adobe Illustrator online course where the guy is messing with a pixel graphic of himself and I thought, wouldn’t that look cool as a Facebook profile photo if I could create a pixel image of myself!? I spent a bit of time manually tracing pixels over a photo of myself in Photoshop and it looked ok but I wasn’t 100% happy so went looking for ways to convert to pixelated in one go. None of the Photoshop stylize filters were much good but then I came across an article online on how to convert photos to Commodore 64 style, 8 Bit graphics.
I followed the article and got some cool results so thought I’d create an Action set to make it easier for others to “C64’ify” their images in one click.
To adjust the result just mess with the middle action “Convert Mode” Dither amount settings. You’ll also need to load Christoffer’s custom C64 colour palette as below:
You can download both the action set and Commodore 64 colour table HERE.
I moved to a new house recently. Broadband always was, and probably always will be one of my most important considerations when moving to a new area. That plus the colour of the water. Don’t ask. So naturally I done some good background checks on internet availability in the new area which included looking at broadband provider coverage and availability maps online, talking to people who lived there already, checking mobile speeds and phone lines etc while house viewing. All of the above suggested that I should have no broadband worries so off I went and agreed to let the property. I actually ordered broadband well before I moved in so that it would be there when I did or very shortly after.
The first thing I did was to use Eir’s very handy (so I thought) “Moving Home Form”. You just put your current and new details in and they handle everything for you. How cool!? I filled it out and awaited confirmation from them that all was proceeding. The suggested wait time was several business days. Fine. I never heard from Eir in relation to this again.
With the failure of the moving home form process and move time fast approaching, I decided to just do a fresh broadband order online with Eir on the 7th January. The process was fairly easy and quick and I got word back fairly quickly that install day would be the 14th January, the day after I planned to move in. I was delighted to get a call to say they could come even sooner than that because the engineer happened to be in the area and had a cancellation of some sort. He came that Thursday and I wasn’t at the address but the install team rang me to say they couldn’t provide the broadband I ordered. They put me on to the engineer to explain more and he told me that I’d ordered “Fibre to the home”, superfast broadband but no actual fibre lines to the house existed. I told him that’s all I was allowed order online and he said I needed to cancel that order and tell them I just wanted normal “Fibre to the cabinet”, phone line broadband instead. That’s when the real fun began..
For most of the next week, I tried to contact Eir and subsequently Vodafone who got similarly confused about the type of broadband available here to explain their error and just order normal broadband. I need to use a bullet list here to explain what happened next there’s so much detail, sorry!
Step 1 – I called the Eir customer support number 1901. Except that when you ring on a mobile, like most people probably do these days because they don’t have a landline, it doesn’t work. The robot asks for your account number but as you try to type it in their system presumes you need mobile support and tries to transfer you.
Step 2 – I called the sales number mentioned in the order email 1800 303 736. No answer.
Step 3 – I messaged the Eir Twitter support account at Twitter.com/eircare. The Twitter guys answered at least but ultimately they refer you to phone support who never answer.
Step 4 – I went to an actual Eir phone shop hoping to get some sense out of a real life human, face to face. I explained the problem to “Paul” who done his best to make me feel like a fool for ordering the only broadband product the Eir website let me order. One which wasn’t available in my area despite the Eir website saying it was. He put my address and Eircode in multiple times and ways and into multiple systems to prove that that’s the only broadband I could get. He didn’t seem interested when I told him the engineer was out to check and said there’s no fibre line. Paul was sympathetic to my problems getting in touch with Eir support however and gave me a handful of numbers to try ring. Each one of them failed to answer. The longest I was on hold was 1 hour and 10 minutes one day. Video proof below! That number was actually a Sales number too!??
Step 5 – I decided to take Eir Twitter support’s advice and post (as in a letter…lol) in a cancellation request. I done this for both my account at the old address and the new one I just ordered for the new address but havn’t heard anything back re either yet.
Step 6 – I said enough is enough and dispensed with Eir altogether as they obviously don’t want or care about customers and switched my attention to Vodafone on the advice of the previous tenant who used them happily. Considering my failure to get in touch with Eir in any way to cancel, I had no option but to just cancel my direct debit with them. I’m sure I’ll hear more about this but I’m ready for ’em!
Step 7 – To my initial delight, Vodafone were a hell of a lot cheaper than Eir for the same thing but to my dismay then, they also sold me fibre to the home, which as I’d already found out was not available here. I’m guessing the address/availability system Vodafone use is Eir’s so it’s wrong for both. Probably other providers too. I ordered the only package I was allowed to on the Vodafone site but got a call the next day to say it wasn’t available. Here we go again..
Step 8 – I decided, again, to go talk to someone face to face and went into the local Carphone Warehouse store to try sort the Vodafone install issue and the guy there put a manual order through for me for broadband after I explained the issue again. That order seems to have disappeared into the twilight zone. There was no record of it with Vodafone. Maybe it’s for the best as it was a completely different price and contract length to the online order.
Step 9 – I contacted Vodafone by phone and web chat which was a hell of a lot quicker and easier than contacting Eir and because of my experience with Eir, I understood the situation and issue fully and was able to explain it very simply to the several different agents, several different times. Nevertheless, they trust their “system” more than actual humans on the scene so they insisted that all I could order was Gigabit, superfast fibre to the home broadband and that the slower “normal” broadband I wanted was not actually available to me.
Step 10 – I put another order through on the Vodafone website while web chatting to a support agent. It only let me order the superfast broadband yet again but on the advice of the support guy/girl (never sure with Indian names) I ordered anyway and we agreed that if I got a call to say it wasn’t available again, I should just insist on a site visit. The same support guy tried to sell me the same package I ordered at a different (yes, dearer of course) price than the website too!?
Eir customer support craziness:
So that’s where we’re at now. Waiting on someone from Vodafone to call/visit to actually check what’s available here and install some kind of broadband. Meanwhile I’m trying to run an IT business off my mobile phone hotspot with the phone placed up against the window in the kitchen at the back of the house which through trial and error I’ve found is where the best 4G signal is. But it comes and goes..
So for once the issue is not the availability of decent broadband in Leitrim, I know I can get broadband, I just can’t seem to order it!? It shouldn’t be this hard to order broadband in Ireland in 2019?
Nothing further happened with either Eir or Vodafone as of yet (unsurprisingly) and I decided out of interest to go through all the other major Irish broadband providers including:
Digiweb – Can only offer Gigabit broadband which isn’t available! Pure Telecom – Can only offer Gigabit broadband which isn’t available! They fixed my phone line and even sent a router then admitted it was all pointless so I sent it back and cancelled. Sky – Can only offer Gigabit broadband which isn’t available! Virgin – Can’t give me any kind of broadband at all!
So. I looked into Mobile broadband and happily realised that they’d all but done away with their monthly download limits. That was the reason I stopped using mobile years ago. A quick check online for coverage in my area, both with 3 Support and my own research seemed to suggest that the signal would be strong (I appear to be sitting right on top of a mini 3 Cell tower or extender of some sort!) and that their router would be far more reliable than my phone hot spot so I decided to give it a bash. I ordered a monthly package and router at about 14:30 yesterday and the router and SIM were delivered this morning, way less than a day later. All I had to do was set everything up, find the best spot (huge difference between the front and back of the house!?) and plugin and I was online again at the speeds below. Hopefully they will remain as high and that mobile broadband is stable and reliable.
Take note Eir & Vodafone. This is how easy and quick it should be to order and install broadband in 2019..
Having just setup my 18 month contract with 3 Mobile Broadband (service and speeds have been fairly reliable) and seeing out the 14 days grace period, imagine my surprise when I went out for a walk one day and seen the contractors from the fibre company (Working on behalf of OpenEir) laying the final fibre infrastructure to the house.
I spoke to a couple of them and they told me as soon as they were finished, fibre would be live and available to order. Unable to resist the temptation of hooking into 1GB fibre running right outside my door I looked at ways to get out of my 3 contract but to no avail. Still, I put yet another order through Vodafone for their fastest package and this time an engineer came and actually installed the connection in my house but then confirmed it wasn’t fully live yet. He couldn’t say when! Vodafone rang me the next day to tell me the “problem” would be fixed around March 25th and I wouldn’t be billed until then. So the story continues..
My fibre broadband came live yesterday out of the blue! Speeds are all over the place though. I’ve had speed test results everywhere from the full 1Gbps to a third of that bit I FINALLY HAVE FULL FIBRE BROADBAND!!??
I’ve been a regular visitor to Lough Key near Boyle Co. Roscommon from even before I moved to the Northwest of Ireland in 2003 and many times since then, including this afternoon for the first time in a good while when I decided to drop by in the rain to snap some photos of the remnants of the old Rockingham House Estate there which was destroyed by fire (for the second time) in 1957 then subsequently demolished, perhaps controversially considering it’s decent state, in 1971. The large foundations, still interspersed with servants tunnels and sprouting an ugly tower, which I initially thought reminiscent of something you’d see in Ballymun, Dublin, rather than in one of the great forest parks of Northwest Ireland is now a commercial tourist attraction.
I’d seen photos of the old house before but never really thought through what it must have looked like or where it stood or which direction it faced before until I seen another fairly hi-res and impressive colour photo of the house on Facebook recently. I decided to do some research, take some photos and Photoshop together how I thought it might have looked “Then Vs Now”, just to give anyone interested an idea..
I have Google alerts set to alert me whenever Mohill or Leitrim is in the news and one came in last week for old photos of Mohill Railway station for sale on eBay by an Australian seller of all things! The auctions were fairly high quality old photos from about 1950 looking from both ends of Mohill at the old railway station. All photos were from about the 1950s.
I loaded them on my phone and went out one fine day (it’s only around the corner from where I live) to take some modern day photos from as close to the old photo angles as possible.
I went back to the office and loaded each set of then and now photos in Photoshop and aligned them best I could before masking out certain sections to merge then and now versions in some meaningful way. Finally I added some adjustment layers above everything to improve levels, colour and contrast..
It just occurred to me as I sent out my last business Newsletter recently to a highly focused MailChimp list especially for existing clients of mine, a newsletter alerting clients to changes in the Google algorithm that will most likely affect their sites positions in search results and in turn possibly their main marketing channel, and having watched multiple unsubscribes and no replies to it, that Email Marketing, as I know it at least, may be dead.
The last few similar newsletters I sent out yielded the same results. No replies, no business and a few unsubscribes. I check the stats re open rate etc and all emails reach their destination and actually have good open and click rates. I’m sending these newsletters to a list that I use to alert existing clients of issues with hosting, problems that may arise and general important announcements that clients really need to know. If they unsubscribe, they wont get this information and they’ll be in the dark and I may not have the resources to deal with issues directly or by phone as a result of them being in the dark! Fair enough, I also use newsletters as a marketing channel sometimes but I doubt very much that I oversell through it.
So why the lack of interest? I guess it’s possible it could just be that they have no interest and see no relevance in the content. It’s hardly that they receive too many emails from me given that I only send newsletters out every 2 or 3 months if even that. Maybe people in general are overwhelmed by emails? Maybe they don’t have the time? Maybe it’s just a tired method?
From my own perspective as someone who also receives a lot of email newsletters, it can be overwhelming. The companies that send out the most frequent and/or longest newsletters usually get the boot from me but I try not to make the same mistakes in my own email campaigns.
Then there’s GDPR. Could this have had an affect on email marketing? I took all the necessary precautions when the new GDPR regulations passed last summer. I emailed everyone, asking them if they wanted to remain on my list and telling them what data I held exactly. I had very few unsubscribes then, if any so I presumed people were happy to stay on the list. I’m pretty sure GDPR has scared a lot of people off email marketing though. And caused a lot of unsubscribes.
So what’s the next new marketing thing!? I’m subscribed to Seth Godin’s email list. I signed up for it because he famously keeps them very short and concise. I’ve seen some come in that are barely a sentence! More often than not they talk a lot of sense and wisdom. Seth is a big proponent of the old fashioned way of doing things. Being honest, offering value, doing things the hard way and not taking the quick and easy fixes.
That’s what I’m going to try to do anyway. I just have to find the right medium to do it through!