Welcome To The CantBarsed Blog

Thanks for stopping by. This is where I let off steam and talk about affiliate marketing, promotional codes, freebies, Apple stuff and anything else which motivates me to post (which judging by my track record isn't much)...

Monday, 29 October 2007

Cheeselets - More Like CheeseLESS!

We always look forward to cracking open our first tube of the new Cheeselets season and this year United Biscuits have taken the biscuit - literally, about half of them by our reckoning.

It's not all bad, the useless opening pull strip that always breaks off is gone (hurrah) and they've changed the flavour again - they taste different, a bit crispier, but still good.
Our kids pointed out they're 40% less fat... less salt... less everything because the biscuits are 40% gone!

And it's not just one tube, we checked several, and it's not because they've compacted down either, if anything there's fewer broken biscuits than normal. Quite frankly we're cheesed off!

Saturday, 27 October 2007

A4U Expo - Expose!

Congratulations to Matt and the gang on the best conference style event I have ever attended and for getting it near-perfect first time, that's a fantastic achievement.
In the spirit of constructive criticism, here are my personal observations:

Ticketing: I got a conference pass in the post but at the event the passes were all printed out again which seemed to be a waste of time, effort and paper - worse still my printout said "Agency" which marked me out as a conference leper before I started! I tore it off the bottom of my pass which then got me into hot water with one of the a4u staff (didn't recognise him).

Planning: I was planning to go to the after show party but main event finished at 5pm and I'd checked out of my hotel so had nowhere to go between 5pm and 7pm when the after show party started - which was too long to wait after a long day so I went home. I understand exhibitors had to pack up and get organised but next time somewhere warm visitors can hang out for a couple of hours to keep it seamless would be cool.

Music: I've mentioned this one for a few previous get2gethers. I love music but the volume of music in the after-show parties is way too loud. I know I'm getting on a bit but the volume got to a level where even face to face 1 to 1 converstations were impossible and the next morning my voice was shot - maybe that's a good thing I hear some of you say but I wasn't the only one to mention it.

Food & Drink: Generally, really well handled by the Excel centre (contract staff?). I liked the brown paper bags and paper packaging but a lot more could be done to improve wastefulness on their side. The Awards evening fish and chips was tasty but a real bun fight, with some people getting more than one and others waiting ages, that needs sorting if the same venue is used again.

A4U Awards: I enjoyed the David Brent lookandsoundalike (although he did go on a bit) and I'd like to offer my congratulations to the winners, especially Matt, Hero, Kieron, Bruce and Zak. From my perspective there were some distinctly odd results and daft categories but it was generally good fun. Again the noise level detracted and the stage being at ground level made it hard to see what was going on so, depending how important/prestigious the awards become, perhaps this should a more formal event held in the conference halls - I recently attended an-after show event at the Excel centre with 1000 attendees so it can be done.

The Exhition Hall: For me this was the really HUGE plus because it meant the network staff (at least some of them) are nailed to their stands. I finally got to met CJ staff for the first time (Yes, they are real live HUMAN BEINGS) and add more names to faces at all the networks - all prizes to the address in my profiles please guys :)
At previous a4u get2gethers I've been to everyone is in a bar with a drink in their hand and network staff tend to stick together which makes it a lot harder to break into their conversation.

I even joined a new network called alltogether digital run by James Little and Kenneth Cheung. Unlike most new networks, they have already got 2 merchants I want to work instead of the usual rubbish pseudo deals so respect and good wishes to them with that project.

The Sessions: These generally exceeded my expectations and are a great addition to the mix. They're also a welcome opportunity to sit down, nod off and learn stuff depending on the particular session. From the a4u forum gang Dixon, Jess and Lee did a great job, I missed Graham, Jason, Kieron, etc but with concurrently running sessions that was inevitable. Ciaran Norris was my favourite speaker, a natural public speaker, so upgrade him to the main stange and make sure you catch him next time. Perhaps an award for the best sessions could also be organised?

Merchants: It was great to see a few larger merchants with a stand. I had a really useful chat with Lesley on the Littlewoods stand which cleared up my mis-conceptions about how the Littlewoods and Littlewoods Direct and associated brands fit together. I also bumped into other merchants touring the floor. I learnt Elaine has a merchant program (Doh!) called Childrens Rooms on POR, I can't believe I missed it or that Elaine or Dave hadn't hassled me but I've signed up now so where's my codes Elaine? ;)

As the event was closing Frostie introduced me to the Euroffice duo, Jonathan and Vincent and they showed us their new site layout which look great and perfect for B2C customers - the old site converted well enough but seemed to have B2B focus so hopefully the new site will convert even better for me. I also had several good chats with Alyssa O'Mara from CardScan (part of Dymo group) who made the trip over from the US and is looking for affiliates with suitable B2B sites, you can check out their program which is running on CJ and Webgains.
I'd like to see more merchants taking stands rather than walking the halls so affiliates can find them more easily, perhaps smaller, cheaper stands in another hall, perhaps one day only, or even just informal merchant meeting points or merchant speed dating sessions would be a good addition to the mix?

Thanks to Matt, the gang and all the sponsors and I look forward to the 2008 event.

With discount codes being the hot potato ATM the a4u code site owners gang (except those that bottled it) held a mini summit meeting to air our views and now Frostie, Ray, Keith and myself are best mates - well sort of! :) Thanks also to Clarke for talking about POR's new system and Hero for her input explaining Webgains POV.

Finally, I'd like to thank all the usual a4u forum members for making the event even more enjoyable including Jess, Dixon, Keith/s, Paul, Julie, Elaine, Dave, Jason/s, James, Clarke, Jude, Zak E, Graham, Kieron, Malcolm, Nadeem, Pete, Kandevil, Mark, Bruce, Lee, Tom and put some faces to a few a4u members I hadn't met before - Hi to Kirsty and Duncan, Bruce, POR Graeme, Kenneth, Alyssa.
Apologies to anyone I've left out, especially one random guy in the loo - I was heading towards a kids urinal next to him when I noticed and exclaimed "That looks a bit small" - his reaction confirmed "low" would have been a better word to use!

Monday, 1 October 2007

Mac Undercover

Mac computer users should take a look at Undercover which effectively renders a stolen mac useless to a thief and there's even a chance it will help you get your Mac back or see what the thief looks like!

Once installed if your mac is ever stolen you visit the Undercover website and enter your unique ID number at which point they start looking for your mac.
As soon the the stolen mac connects to the internet the IP addresses and router address is logged which helps trace the physical location of your mac and, if your mac has an isight webcam, sends pictures of the thief every few minutes.

If you still don't get your mac back at least you have the satisfaction of knowing the thief won't enjoy using your mac for long. After half an hour Undercover simulates an intermittent hardware failure (even if the mac isn't online). If the thief decides to sell you mac or take it in for repair Undercover will track this and will shout and display a full-screen message alerting the reseller (or someone who bought the Mac from the thief) that the Mac has been stolen and should be returned along with Undercover's contact information and reward offer.

They seem to have thought of everything and the prices are really cheap:
* Single User license: $49
* Household license: $59
* Site license: $249
* Student license: $39
* Volume educational license: $8/Mac

I should mention I have no connection with Undercover apart from being a customer.

There's also iAlertU which is a free alternative to Undercover, it doesn't include the network tracking but is a more in-your-face deterrent. There's no reason why you couldn't use both.