Road Tax for caravans

This may be contentious (like I care about that) but I’ve been giving this some thought lately; often while stuck behind a caravan on the motorway or stuck in a queue caused by a caravan that’s toppled over. Why aren’t caravans subject to road tax?

They’re huge things and they cause more obstruction on the roads than any other vehicle. Furthermore, most caravaners have no idea how to actually tow a caravan, swerving out without looking in their oversized mirrors and hogging the middle lane. They’re a danger on the roads and should be either taxed, or made illegal.


Now I realise a lot of people wouldn’t want caravans to be made illegal, but the caravans of today are so large that when they’re towed by most cars they’re snaking all over the road; they shouldn’t be on the road at all. Older caravans that are fairly small aren’t so much of a problem, but 25 ft plus caravans are just downright dangerous.

The least the government could do is to make caravans subject to road tax. It would generate more revenue for the UK and if it got one, just one, caravan off the road it would be worth it.

Road tax for caravans; the campaign starts here!

Virgin Media directs customers to spoof website

I recently discovered that with my Virgin Media package that I have for TV and Internet that I get free photos printed with Snapfish, which is great because now that I’ve made the transition to a digital camera I rarely get photos printed anymore.

Now, I phoned Virgin Media to find out how this worked and a very helpful woman explained it and said she’d send me an email with full instructions, which she promptly did.

All sounds great so far yeah? Well, this is a section of the email she sent. Bear in mind that she didn’t write this email just for me, it was a standard Virgin Media template email sent to potentially hundreds, maybe thousands of customers.

Spot the deliberate mistake…

If you’ve not been to My Virgin Media <>, you’ll need to log in with your main Virgin Media username and password, and go to My Stuff <>  to activate it on your account. You can also download the software you’ll need here. You need to install it on your computer, and follow the on-screen instructions to choose which files you want to have backed up.

Did you notice it? No, I’m not alluding to the ‘and’ following the comma; I’m referring to a more dangerous mistake. The URL is wrong. To log in to Virgin Media you don’t visit, you visit – a subtle difference perhaps, but an entirely different website.

Virgin has been sending people to the wrong URL to login. Anyone who has followed their instructions and ‘logged’ in will have given over their username and passwords to a fake site, all because of Virgin Media’s own stupidity.

I did reply to them about this but received no response, so I’m afraid I have to out them here and let the world know. Virgin Media has been sending its customers to a spoof site in its own emails.

Pretty poor show wouldn’t you say?

Sony’s ‘old TV’ deal wins over projector

As I wrote recently, I’ve been looking at getting a new TV or a home theatre projector to replace the TV that currently resides in my home (it’s an eyesore).

Anyhow, I was looking at getting a data projector because they’re fairly cheap now compared to the few grand they used to cost and they’re available from pretty much any retailer. The problem is though that they’re actually quite expensive to replace the bulbs, which have a limited life. When your projector bulb breaks you need to replace it, and not just the bulb, the whole housing.

Naturally, they’re not the 99p bulbs you get in Asda either. Epson projector lamps for example can cost hundreds of pounds each. Not something I want to be buying regularly.

Luckily, I went to the Sony Centre this week and found a deal on a 40” widescreen TV (W model) better than that found on Amazon. Yeah, Amazon was cheaper, but listen to this:

  • Sony offer £100 cash back when you take in any old TV
  • Sony offer a free Blu-Ray player (which I’ve been meaning to get anyway as I have two Blu-Ray movies already and no player)
  • Sony offer 9 months interest free credit

That beats Amazon’s price hands down, and dispels any ideas of getting a projector. I’ll be getting a new TV at the start of September now.


Sports Direct insults Hillsborough victims

You’d think that a company that sells sportswear and is owned by a Football chairman (Newcastle’s Mike Ashley) would know not to insult the Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough in 1989.

You’d think, but you’d be wrong. Sports Direct ( sold a shirt to a Manchester United fan (obviously) bearing the number 96, and the words YSB Not Enough.

  • 96 is the number of fans who died
  • YSB stands for ‘you scouse bastards’
  • Not Enough refers to how Man UTD fans wish more Liverpool fans had died

So why did Sports Direct print and sell this shirt? According to them, they didn’t know what it meant. The Man UTD fan put some photos of his new pride and joy on Facebook, which promptly got his account shut down and a score of complaints directed at Sports Direct, who have since apologised for selling the offensive shirt.

This does beg the question, just what were Sports Direct thinking? They’ve certainly created some publicity for themselves online, but it’s probably not what they would have wanted.

Mr Daz merchandise

I recently set up some Mr Daz merchandise that you can buy from CaffeePress, and also ordered some myself to see what the quality was like. It has now arrived, so I can drink my coffee out of my very own Mr Daz mug and wear my Mr Daz T-shirt.

Nothing sad there.


The quality on the mug is excellent, as you can see, and it fits right in with my Tardis, collection of Home Delivery Network failed delivery cards and HTC Touch phone. I also ordered some badges (not really sure why).

The quality of the printing on the T-Shirt is also excellent, though I’m questioning the wisdom of buying a ‘fitted’ T-Shirt when I’m so woefully out of shape.


Using YouTube for SEO

One of the best websites to use for Internet marketing is Google’s own YouTube. By uploading videos to YouTube for your products, services or even videos that are relevant to your website you can promote your site to millions of users free of charge. Better yet, by using YouTube you can also achieve Google rankings for phrases that you would otherwise be unable to get.

For example, one of my Transformers websites uses a YouTube account to post videos from PR companies and videos I have taken myself, such as at the ‘Transformers Revenge of the Fallen’ press conference earlier this year. One of the videos uploaded to this channel was for the Transformers 2 video game, and was sent to me by Atari.

This video:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Now, that trailer has received over 17,000 views on YouTube, and in its description there is a link back to my website. It also ranks on the front page of Google for a search on ‘Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Video Game’, so anyone looking for the game will watch the video.


How has this been accomplished? This has been achieved using SEO.

This method can be replicated with practically anything. All you need to do is to create a compelling video and optimise it with the same SEO techniques you would use on your own website.

By doing this you can make YouTube work for you and increase the awareness of, and traffic to, your website.

Home theatre projector

I was watching the first round of the Carling Cup last night and the unthinkable happened, my TV started to go on the fritz (I say my TV, it’s not, my TV has been borrowed by someone else and this TV belongs to another person again) very confusing I know, but the fact remains that I’m down a working TV.

Now, I usually buy a new TV just before every World Cup, which would put my TV buying ritual into action some time next May. However, this may have to be brought forward somewhat.

Cop on the EdgeI have been thinking though; do I really need a TV, when a data projector might be better? We used a data projector when we screened our film Cop on the Edge in the cinema in Newport way back in 1998, and despite the technician at the college claiming that he didn’t have any projector lamps powerful enough to project the film onto the forty foot screen, it still worked and looked great.

With this in mind, and coupled with the fact that projectors are much cheaper now, could I not make do with a data projector rather than a TV?

I’m not sure my front room is big enough, but that’s never bothered me before (I have an arcade machine in there) and I’d need a pull down screen, but what a way to watch movies and sport.

I shall have to take a look at the latest Sony and Toshiba projectors, see what they’re able to do and how they compare with an LCD Sony TV.

Vermilion & Cinnabar in Manchester

22dfab24f02ae56a03d6f6d2c539599eThis week I went to the Vermilion & Cinnabar in Hulme, Manchester, for an early birthday meal. The meal was part of the Hi Life club and was in a private function room near the top of this very impressive, £4.5 million restaurant.

Before I go on, I must stress just how impressive the restaurant itself is. The building is a work of art and the décor inside is stunning (as you can see from the photos). The food was quite good too, if a little heavy on the rice (there seemed to be rice with every course).


Now, the problem with this event was the insistence on the evening being part of the ‘Hi Life’ deal, and the pretence that came along with that. Before the meal was served a French guy was wheeled out to explain his personal choices of wine to accompany the meal, and why each wine was selected. In typical French fashion he waffled on about how the crisp, full bodied flavour complimented the dish, and how the red was chosen to accompany the lamb.

We were suspicious when the waiter came round with the wine and he had his hand strategically placed over the label so you couldn’t see what it was. The waitress who came round minutes later wasn’t so careful. They were serving Blossom Hill.

cinnabar-upstairsRestaurant – £4.5 million
Wine – £2.99
Look on the ‘French’ man’s face when his wine choice was rumbled – priceless

Then the French guy came out again before the main course to explain his next choice of wine (and we clocked this time that he never mentioned the name of it, which you would expect a wine expert to do). The drunk woman opposite asked him in a broad Manc accent if all of the wines were from California.

He replied in the affirmative.

She then asked if they were all going to be Blossom Hill, looking very angry. The apologetic Frenchman stood his ground and confirmed that Blossom Hill was indeed his wine of choice for each course.

Why go to all that trouble building an incredible restaurant, only to serve the cheapest wine that Asda has to offer in a supposed high life members’ meal?

It was very funny though.