Wednesday, 28 November 2007

"Fine"ding Your Way

Originally uploaded by dramaqueenz

I, along with four other friends have just returned from a wonderful weekend in Prague. Such a beautiful city with so much to see!

The downside to our foreign visit was lack of information regarding directions, where to go or what to do.

I have recently undertaken some research on our website (which if it is your first visit could be referred to as a "foreign site"). If you first enter a website and cannot find what you are looking for, it can be quite frustrating. Apparently our Partner profiles are difficult to find - we are looking at remedying this. At the moment there is no search feature so old press releases are left gathering virtual dust!

But back to our trip

The weekend didn't start off too well when our Easyjet plane developed an electrical fault while we were all seated, ready and waiting for take off. We eventually arrived in Prague one hour later than planned and found that all the restaurants closed at 11pm! - we knew this because there were signs in the windows indicating a closing time!

The second day we found misleading currency exchange rates and very nearly ended up with an extremely poor exchange.

On the evening we purchased travel tickets that can be used for tram, bus and train. We knew through sites such as Virtual Tourist that you needed to have these stamped. We expected conductors to stamp the tickets on the different modes of transport.

But no, that's not how it works. There were no signs to tell us how to do this. So, we rounded a corner to be stopped by guards/tram police - whatever you want to call them. They were not in uniform but did show a badge. One of the men (quite rough looking) demanded to see our tickets (at first we thought they were beggars). We showed our tickets which were not stamped. The man indicated that we all would have to pay a 500Kc fine (around £15). We explained it was a simple mistake. He exclaimed (in Czech accent) "not my problem - your problem". He was quite aggressive, threatened to call the police and take our passports - we paid up!

So, perhaps Prague tourist information should consider displaying relevant information/signposts etc on all modes of transport.

The up side to visiting the Latimer Hinks website is that we will not fine you or threaten you with the police, we will simply take any constructive comments on board and amend our site to suit!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Stilletto Boot Camp - Pure Technology, just for the ladies!

Yesterday I attended a presentation on Pure Technology, part of the Stilletto Boot camps for women. The group was quite small and the format for the presentation was forum/discussion style - which worked really well. Ideas/suggestions were bounced from the panel as well as the attendees.
I must admit that at first i felt like a "fish out of water". Most attendees worked with film/media so I imagined them to be quite savvy and up to date. There was also a lovely lady who owned a B&B by Hadrians Wall - Holme House. But as the afternoon wore on, we all found we had something to say.

The expert panel consisted of:

Judith Peacock - Further Consultancy (technology, marketing, databases etcetc)

Joscelyn Upendran - de Burca (e-learning and business)

Zahra Zomorrodian - FNA Films (video production/film makers)

Jo - Ki-media (emails marketing, website optimisation etc etc)

Some items discussed:
  • How social networking is now taking over email as a marketing medium

  • Keywords/keyphrases and placement. Top tip - don't use "click here", give the link a name (which will be picked up by search engines)
  • What do you consider to be a good online experience
  • Youtube, marketing videos
  • Viral emails
  • Emails and the legal issues (which Joscelyn will respond to)
  • What is web2
  • Is it worth having a business presence on Second Life?
  • How to promote your blog
  • Bookmarking
Judith is going to summarise the afternoon's discussions and forward the information along with links. I may be able to let you have a look!
The session drew to a close and as I was leaving Judith and Joscelyn asked if Latimer Hinks would be interested in publicity for our blogs/digital presence. Apparently for a law firm in the UK we are quite forward thinking and progressive! I said we would be VERY happy to... so watch this space!
I am now going to join the CopeBusiness Forum and use this to share knowledge and further our social networking!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Nothing to do with Social Networking - Christmas gone Mad!

Last night, 13th NOVEMBER, I was driving home from work. I turned the corner into a little village called Toft Hill and much to my absolute amazement drove past a house on the main street fully lit up with Christmas decorations! (photo to follow shortly) The garden was overgrown with strange illuminous flashing cabling winding it's way up the garden path to the front door and up onto the roof ... if there way a chimney i'm positive the cabling was such a length that it would reach and travel down it, much like Santa! It's NOVEMBER, not DECEMBER!! Far too early!

To top it all, on my walk into work this morning an absolutely gigantic chritmas tree has been deposited right in the middle of the main high street of Darlington - I have taken a photo so you can see the enormity of it - for scale, see the guy in the wheelchair to the right.

I realise that town and city centres decorate their streets slightly earlier than we at home would (apart from the odd eccentric few) to create the "mood" for christmas shoppers but I do wonder how online businesses cope with the Christmas trade? We see plenty of offers/discounts to purchase but where is the ambience. Although the biggest bonus for shopping online has simply GOT to be - no queues!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Blogging - the risks

Charley With iBook
Originally uploaded by Hackintosh

People are landing in hot water with employers over blogs about their work.

Recent figures show that 39 percent of ‘bloggers’ admit that they have posted sensitive or damaging accounts of their employer, workplace or colleagues on a weblog, or on-line diary.

Shocking, you better believe it!

  • In 2005 bookseller Waterstone's was reported to have become the first employer in the UK to sack a member of staff because of comments he made about the company on his online diary, or blog. See here
  • Catherine Sandersons's "La Petite Englaise" internet diary/blog made headline news when Catherine, who worked for accountancy firm Dixon Wilson, was sacked when her Paris-based employer objected to her blog. She was later awarded £30,000 for unfair dismissal - and was given a book deal in the process! - in the end it all worked out well for Catherine.
  • A US airline attendant calling herself Queen of the Sky was fired over "inappropriate images" on her anonymous blog. She is currently filing a discrimination complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A new term has emerged as a result of this new phenomenon. According to, to be "dooced" means "losing your job for something you wrote in your online blog, journal, website, etc."

So, please consider the following advice from Latimer Hinks Solicitors and ensure that you have policies in place to deal with blogging issues.

Be Aware of Staff Internet Blogging - Nick Poole, partner at Darlington law firm Latimer Hinks, is warning employers to update their policies to cover internet blogging following a judgement made in a Paris employment tribunal that could have repercussions in the UK.

Businesses to be Aware of the Bloggers -As weblogs, or ‘blogs’, become increasingly popular, Nick Poole, employment law solicitor at Darlington law firm Latimer Hinks is warning the region’s employers to beware of the risks represented by these sites.

Also thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for - How to blog safely about work or anything else

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Networking Socially - in the Flesh!!

I've had a busy few evenings networking in a social environment, not behind a computer screen but in the flesh, so to speak.

Firstly, I attended the County Durham and Tees Valley Charity Awards which Latimer Hinks along with accontants Horwath Clark Whitehill, were sponsoring. It was an emotional evening for some and I was so pleased to see recognition for down to earth people who virtually singlehandedly have improved lives of those around them.

I spoke with Dorothy Bowman of Newton Aycliffe Junior Neighbourhood Watch, a lady of "just over" 80. When Dorothy saw that the children of Newton Aycliffe, a deprived area where more and more houses were being built with no thought of the children's needs were going to lose their meeting place - the Dandy Kart she and her husband came up with the idea of using a bus which they purchased and renovated to provide "The Kool Red Bus". Dorothy was previously a lorry driver so driving a bus did not pose a problem - remember this lady is over 80 years old!

Dorothy is determined to fight for the Council to give her some land so that she can build a permanent meeting place for the youngsters. She is an amazing woman, full of energy - she deserves a million awards - as do all of the winners and nominees for the Durham and Tees Valley Charity Awards.

Details of the winners

Secondly I attended Darlington Civic Theatre Gala Evening - the 100th Anniversary.

Latimer Hinks are corporate sponsors of the theatre and we share a long well established history in Darlington. Latimer Hinks Solicitors was born in 1872 and the Civic Theatre in 1907.

The Gala event was a great success (a sell out!) and thoroughly enjoyable. With guests such as Brian Conley, The Krankies, Zoe Birkett, Jane Macdonald, Journey South etc. Brian Conely was excellent and SO versatile! I was extremely surprised at how much i enjoyed the "variety type" performance.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Scoble's Social Media Starfish

What a wacky starfish!
This is a brilliant diagram to show the channels of social media.
Many thanks to Dbarefoot of Flickr