An apology from Colin and Matt

I listen to a great radio show on Amazing Radio on saturday mornings. It’s called The Saturday Show with Colin and Matt, hosted by funny guys Colin Greaves and Matt Horne (no not that one!) .. i really enjoy their banter, the riddle, the burning question, the quirky news roundup, and the music they play.

A few weeks ago the burning question was: “The Postal Service! It’s a bit rubbish, really, isn’t it?” and because they were discussing the postal service, they thought it would be fun to ask for answers on a postcard. So i sent them a postcard. I didn’t have time to choose a funny one, or one with boobs on, which i know would have made them happy. So i sent them a scene of Winchester from my favourite local artist, Josephine Chisholm.

They received it the following week. They tweeted about it and posted this picture.

To me, that is iconic Winchester. The Buttercross, the old architecture, busking, St Giles’ Hill.

Matt liked it, but Colin wasn’t impressed. Comments such as: “That could be anywhere!” and insinuations that people in Winchester are all farmers. I remember the comment “Is that a wheelbarrow?” particularly stung! And of course, the lack of boobs was mentioned.

Anyway, so yesterday was a saturday and my partner and i decided to listen to XFM instead. I took part in Colin & Matt’s riddle on twitter, but let them know that i wasn’t listening because of the postcard comments!

Colin asked for my email address. I was hesitant, but figured it’s easily found on the internet so i sent Colin my email address.

Then today i received this!

Dear Aimee, a fan of our Saturday Show,
This is just a quick email, good morning, hello.
You sent us a postcard, the only one we’ve ever got,
And I said some bad things, am I proud? I am not.

You see, it’s not that I genuinely thought it was bad,
I thought it was great, I was happy, I was glad.
But for comedic effect, I said it was dire,
I’d come to regret this as things did transpire.

I’m so very sorry if you took offence to my ribbing,
If I said I didn’t care, I’d only be fibbing.
Our fans mean the world to us and you’re one of the best,
Upsetting or offending you leaves me rather distressed.

Please accept my sincere apologies, the postcard was ace,
We’ve even put it up on the wall, it’s taken centre place.
I’d hate for you to think we don’t appreciate our fans,
Going around insulting people is not part of our plans.

So I’m sorry, and thank you for being an absolute gem,
And please don’t stop listening and changing to XFM!

HOW SWEET IS THAT?!?!!

I’ve never had a personal poem written by a radio DJ before, it was so lovely! Of course, Colin is fully forgiven, and i’ll be listening again from next week!

But just in case that wasn’t enough, Colin also drew a picture for me!

What can i say? I’m truly blessed!

I heartily recommend The Saturday Show with Colin and Matt. You can find it 9am-12pm every saturday on Amazing Radio on DAB, or listen online: amazingradio.co.uk

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QIDO for Colemak please!

As most of my followers are probably well aware, i’m a bit of a nerd on the matter of keyboard ergonomics and keyboard layouts.

For any Dvorak typists, the QIDO (QWERTY In, Dvorak Out) is a very useful device that converts any USB keyboard into a Dvorak one. It is a spin-off product of KeyGhost, a hardware keylogger, but in this case put to a completely different use.

They QIDO plugs between the keyboard cable and the USB port on the computer, and it translates all keyboard input signals into the Dvorak letters. Reminds me somehow of a Babel fish! :) Having a QIDO means you don’t have to switch keyboard input at the operating system, especially useful if you’re pair programming with someone who types on QWERTY.

A few months ago i wrote to KeyGhost, the makers of the QIDO, to ask for a Colemak version (or even better, a programmable version) of the QIDO. Theo Kerdemelidis gave this reply:

We have had a few requests for Colemak support, so we will look into it as soon as we have a chance.

I know they also sent the same response to someone else who asked for a Colemak QIDO at the same time. As far as i’m aware they are still sending out the same reply to people who ask.

So i have a task for you! If you could use a Colemak QIDO (or QICO as they might call it!) please email helpdesk@keyghost.com to let them know your interest. If you get any reply, please let me know here.

Dvorak might be more popular at the moment, but that’s only because it’s been around for a lot longer than Colemak. We know that Colemak has the edge, and it’s getting more popular all the time. Let’s give KeyGhost all the encouragement we can to get a Colemak version of the QIDO made soon! :)

Build and launch a web shop in a day

My day yesterday began at Winchester station at 05:19 in the morning, with a big ambition:

I arrived in Kent at 08:25 and was met by Alanna who owns Aphrodite’s Desire. We got straight to business. By 08:45 we were settled in with a cup of tea and signing up to Shopify.

Let me back-track a little. We had already had several email conversations and had met previously to discuss options, and decided that Shopify was the best solution. Alanna needed something that is easy to manage, looks good, and can handle orders and payments reliably.

Our first concern was that Alanna’s debit card might not be accepted as Shopify says it wants credit cards. According to two people i spoke to at Shopify, some debit cards work, but not all. Fortunately, Alanna’s Visa card was accepted.

I began by demonstrating how to add products. Alanna’s immediate reaction was, “Oh, it’s just like Facebook!” Alanna was already uploading product photos before i’d even pointed out the option! Huge props to Shopify! Fortunately, Alanna had done a lot of good preparation work writing up descriptions for the products and getting all the photos ready. This was a major advantage to launching in a day.

In the meantime i worked on installing and customising the theme that we’d previously chosen. I asked Alanna’s opinion on a few fonts and we chose some photos for the banner.

I installed the iPhone extension. Alanna had already downloaded the app, and it was cool to see products appearing on the iPhone. We were both impressed by Shopify’s handling of discounted products, and combinations of different variations, some being available and some out of stock. I was impressed at how easily i could extend the theme and add a message that invites people to contact Alanna to ask about unavailable items.

By lunch time we had a pretty good looking shop! We were admiring it on the iPad over lunch. We went out for a quick walk and fresh air before coming back like, “Right! we have a shop to launch! Let’s get to it!”

Adding the facebook and twitter integration was fun. You can ‘like’ products and add comments and it all gets synchronized to facebook. Alanna can click a button to promote products on twitter and facebook. It’s great! Shopify extension apps are awesome!

We spent a bit of time doing the PayPal integration, and then a lot of time signing up for Sage Pay. A lesson learnt: if you want to accept credit/debit cards directly on day 1, you must apply for your Sage Pay merchant account in advance. But it wasn’t so bad to launch only with PayPal.

We had a dilemma when it came to shipping options. Because Alanna hadn’t weighed any of the products, we were leaving them all as weighing nothing. But this meant we couldn’t calculate the shipping. Alanna wanted to charge £5 for a single product, and £1 extra for every additional product. So we came up with the idea of making every product weigh 1lb just so that we can count them in the cart.

That being done, we just needed to tidy up the additional pages and navigation links. I was keen for Alanna to do this, so as to be able to do it again in the future. Shopify provides a very nice content management system which is simple to use. I did a little bit of graphics work on images for Alanna to use.

I think it was about 17:00 when we launched! We spent about half an hour tweeting and facebooking about it like crazy … and then an order came in! Alanna was just looking at the iPhone app and said something like, “Oh, is something wrong here? It says …” and it was an order from one of my friends!

Fantastic! A working web shop in one day! It is totally possible! The shop had 171 unique visitors on its first day.

My day ended with this from my mentor:

I went to bed feeling very satisfied and utterly amazed at knowing i get paid to have a lot of fun and do what i really love to do. It was a brilliant day!

Please visit aphroditesdesire.com to have a look at what we did. Kisses to shopify.com for making it all possible!

UK Voting referendum already under threat

Today, Nick Clegg has set the date for the UK voting referendum, giving us a chance to reform the badly flawed voting system.

If you’re not convinced that the system is unfair, compare these charts: How we voted in the 2010 election vs what we got.

UK General Election 2010

Unfortunately some backbench Conservative MPs are trying to propose a 40% threshold, meaning that at least 40% of all registered voters would need to support the reform. This is totally unrealistic and unprecedented: it’s not the way we elect MPs, in fact only 35 out of our 650 MPs got support from 40% of their electorate.

Their fear is understandable: under a fairer voting system the Conservative party would probably not get an overall majority. But it is not right to use an unfair voting system to save another very unfair voting system.

The most important thing right now is to urge your MP not to support the threshold and to give the referendum a fair chance. You can do so here:

http://takebackparliament.com/stitchup

Follow the instructions to write a letter to your MP. A suggested letter will be provided for you; all you need to do is add in your MP’s name (the site will tell you) and sign it with your name. If you personalise the letter more, so much the better.

For reference, here’s the letter i wrote to my MP for Winchester, Steve Brine.

Dear Steve,

My first opportunity to write to you! :) This is about the Alternative Vote system referendum.

I really welcome a fairer system than the one we have currently. I led a debate at The Roebuck Inn recently proposing that First Past The Post is undemocratic. I did not vote for you, and my vote was discarded. It bothers me that 28,800 votes in Winchester counted for nothing. I won the debate, by the way!

Now that we have a real chance to get a fairer system I’m concerned that some backbench Conservative MPs are already trying to fight against it by trying to argue for a 40% threshold rule — that’s 40% support from all available voters, even those who choose not to vote.

This doesn’t sound at all fair to me, and sounds like a sign of fear. By the way, Steve, you only got 36.79% of the total available electorate in Winchester, so you should be able to see why this proposal doesn’t make sense!

You may not be the representative i voted for, but you are now my representative in Parliament, and therefore i hope i can count on you to oppose this suggestion and give the referendum a fair chance.

Yours sincerely,

aimee daniells
twitter: @sermoa

After one afternoon already 1,873 letters have been sent to 548 of our MPs. It is important that we get the message to all 650 MPs, so please do your bit and support true democracy.

See also:
http://www.takebackparliament.com/
http://www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/
http://www.power2010.org.uk/

don't you just love an awesomesauce #tupperwarebox

This weekend the world went mad for Tupperware Boxes.

Key output:

Some rather bizarre songs:

My dog’s favourite thing is my #tupperwarebox, it’s full of treats and nom, she behaves so well when it’s around, I think I’ll tie it on.

I’ve got a massive #tupperwarebox it’s got a special lid that clicks and locks

Come on and let’s rock! Everybody let’s rock! Everybody in the whole cell block was dancing to the #tupperwarebox!

How I love my little #tupperwarebox! You can a-store my cheese, you can a-sit on my knees, feels like a picnic right here at home…

A quiz: “Which #tupperwarebox would you be?”

A twitter retweeter bot: @tupperwarebot – the cool thing about this was i learnt how to use Yahoo Pipes and made a pipe that finds relevant tweets and manipulates the stream to become retweets with the hashtag #tupperwarebox

A Justin Bieber in a #tupperwarebox which gained the @tupperwarebot a lot of Justin Bieber fans!

Justin Bieber in a #tupperwarebox on Twitpic

This is actually quite disturbing when i found there is a rumour that Justin Bieber got stuck in a toy box at age 7 and suffers from claustrophobia. But anyway, the fans seem to like it. They appreciate the randomness of it and came up with the hashtag #justininatupperwarebox!

Finally, there is a Facebook group: Tupperware Box! If you are a fan of Tupperware and/or pure random nonsense, please don’t hesitate to join! :D

FB.init(“f76c8ae933a8204f4a989f77369fa340”);

Tupperware Box on Facebook

Homeopathy: from skeptic to activist

I am a believer in logic and reasoning. I believe in things that can be scientifically tested and proven by independent non-biased parties. Things, in short, most unlike homeopathy.

Homeopathy is an alternative “remedy” system from the 18th century based on the bizarre conjecture that to dilute something to virtually nothing will increase its effectiveness. It relies on such nonsense as water having a “memory” so that it can “remember” what has been added to it even after it has been diluted so many times that it can no longer have any trace of the intentional ingredient.

Until recently, if you mentioned homeopathy to me, my mind would have conjured up an image of a dusty old shop with small windows in lonely back street. I certainly did not imagine that homeopathy was on sale bright and cheerful in every high street in the country!

Homeopathy placebo "remedies" at Boots
Homeopathy for sale at Boots

Thanks to the 10:23 campaign i have learnt a lot more about homeopathy. This saturday, 30th january, at 10:23 hundreds of demonstrators will “overdose” on homeopathy remedies outside branches of Boots across England. This is in order to show that homeopathy does not work, and to raise awareness of what it really is.

I hope that the demonstration will put pressure on Boots to stop selling this nonsense. Homeopathy is not something that a reputable chemist should be indulging in. Paul Bennett, the professional standards director at Boots has even admitted that there is no evidence that homeopathy works. Paul Bennett cites “consumer choice” as an appropriate reason to sell and profit from the little pills.

Interestingly enough, some homeopaths are in support of the 10:23 campaign. They say that homeopathy needs to treat the person as a whole, and is to be given with consultation of a “trained” homeopath! Either way, we’re in agreement that this stuff should not be available over the counter on the high street!

If you want to add your support to the cause, whichever side you’re on, go to www.1023.org.uk where you’ll find plenty of resources and more information.

10:23 campaign

Songbird!

Songbird 1.0 is finally here!

I have been using Songbird for a couple of years now instead of iTunes. I feel so proud that they have achieved the 1.0 milestone. Off to download it right now …! :)

Update: Oh, the icon has changed! For ever it has been a little egg, slowly cracking. Today it is a little yellow bird! How cute!! :D

Ask and you will receive

For those who may not have seen it on the MyChores journal, i started a MyChores pledge campaign last night. I kind of stumbled into it by accident, via github, but i thought i may as well publicise it a little bit.

Click here to lend your support to: mychores and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

Already we’ve had one confirmed pledge of $10 and another $10 waiting to be cleared! I am making people site supporters on MyChores, so if you pledge and you have an account, please let me know your login ID so i can give you the additional features.

These are exciting times for MyChores. The code has gone open source and there are some people expressing a serious interest in helping to improve the codebase. We are going to make the site more reliable, faster, more intuitive. One of my colleagues is hopefully coming for a weekend code-a-thon sometime soon! So i think this is a very worthy cause to support! :)

White poppies for peace

White Poppies for peace

The White Poppy symbolises the belief that there are better ways to resolve conflicts than killing strangers.

From www.ppu.org.uk/poppy

This morning, whilst discussing with my partner my reasons for wearing a poppy, i discovered that my opinions are better represented by the white poppy than the red poppy. I was, and still am, strongly against the war in Iraq, and in wearing a poppy i remember not just the British soldiers who have died but also all the innocent victims in Iraq whose lives have been torn apart by warfare.

The red poppy is associated with the British Legion, and is particularly for commemorating soldiers who have died. I believe that is important, and i recognise that war is sometimes necessary. But i believe the impact of war goes so much further than that.

The white poppy is for peaceful resolution of conflict, and is to remember the victims of warfare. I did not know about the white poppy before today, and it’s too late to get one for this year, but in the future i will wear both a red poppy and a white one. This week i’ll be wearing my white scarf to symbolise my desire for peace.

P.S. Here is a lovely picture of a Sea of White Poppies taken near Basingstoke a couple of years ago.

I love the whole world!

I just got some flowers from a friend!

Somebody loves me!

These are a thank you gift for helping to make Shea Bliss – Natural Shea Butter Body Care – the webshop is now open and ready for business! :) I personally use the products, and they do wonders for my skin … really good quality, and they make excellent gifts too!

My job continues to go very well indeed. Most of this week i have been working on Nudo Italia – a site for olive groves in Italy. You can adopt an olive tree and receive all its produce for a year. So all week i have been looking at stunning views of Italy! :) I ordered a pot of their olive oil … it came last night and tasted absolutely delicious in a salad dressing!

Today we are going to Portsmouth … a bit of shopping and a treasure hunt and barbecue this evening. I hope this lovely weather holds out! :)