Sarah Hartley

Archive for December, 2007

Deva is made in Cheshire

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THE recently established Chester blog-hub Deva Station is quickly becoming a useful source of blog information.
Set up as a response to being excluded from the Manchester Blog Awards because of it’s Cheshire geography, journalist Louise Bolotin is developing the site to lof local blogs and support the Chester Literature Festival activities.
She says: “I hope it will offer a comprehensive home for all the Chester blogs. I’ll be using the Deva Station to explore our city’s finest blogs, list them on the links and – hopefully, one day before too long – create the first Chester Blog Awards.”
All sounds very good although I’m still a bit puzzled about the name – and a bit shocked with what I found when I put that title into Google too!
Still, there’s already a good selection of links on the blog and I’ll bring you more news as it develops.

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December 30th, 2007 at 2:44 pm

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Social Networks are not just for the Queen

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The fact that the Queen is now on YouTube struck me as not only a real sign of times, but also an example of how social networking sites have come of age.
The idea that such a bastion of the establishment could be found in the same environment as “Lindsay Lohan’s dirty pictures” would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
But the online world has matured and even the most conservative bodies are now happy to credit users with the intelligence to select the content that interests them and dismiss nonsense, spam and all manner of unsavouriness.
In fact 2007 has been remarkable for the complete acceptance of these sites into daily life and the wholehearted way they have been embraced by the traditional media players.
Just look at the BBC, Sky, CNN et el headline service on Facebook or the participatory art project launched by the previously dusty Tate Gallery on Flickr.
Interestingly the Queen has already received 578,902 viewings of this year’s Christmas message on YouTube and will no doubt receive even more over the coming months.
But the traditionalists shouldn’t despair just yet – the 3pm broadcast was watched on television by six million people.
A level of audience that the Royal Channel could take some weeks to reach, but then will no doubt outstrip in the manner of the tortoise and the hare.

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December 28th, 2007 at 5:08 pm

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Action on broadband speeds

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The Ofcom Consumer Panel is today looking for action on the issue of broadband speeds.
As this blog reported earlier in the week, advertised “up to” speeds are often much quicker than the actual connection speeds which many householders end up with.
It is calling for a mandatory code of practice to make internet firms provide clearer information and says customers should have the right to switch to a different deal or opt out of their contracts penalty-free if their actual broadband speed is significantly lower than than advertised.
Ofcom Consumer Panel chair Colette Bowe has written to communications regulator Ofcom calling for a mandatory code of practice.
“This code would establish agreed processes to give the customer the best information during and after the sales process, and to give them flexibility to move freely to different packages that reflect the actual speeds with which their ISPs are able to provide them,” she said.
The Consumer Panel also wants the advertising of broadband speeds to be tightened up.
And about time too. In what other household purchase would we accept something far less than that advertised at the time of purchase? How about opening a half a dozen eggs and finding just two lurking there? It’s only because we’re dealing with something technical and relatively difficult to assess that this situation has been able to continue for so long.
You can test the speed of your broadband connection using the simple test on the page here.

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December 19th, 2007 at 12:01 am

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Is your broadband a fraudband?

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It seems that many of us still aren’t getting what we pay for when it comes to broadband, according to a survey by the BBC radio’s digital programme iPM .
The survey asked people to test their own computers using these simple steps and then post the results online.
Many people found that the speeds were a lot lower than those they were paying for – particularly with 8mb packages.
Robert of Withington was one of those who took part in the survey and his comment fairly typical: “Pretty poor really”.
The issue was raised back in September when a study by Computeractive magazine found that 62% of 3,000 readers who took part routinely got less than half of the top speed advertised by their provider.
At that time regulator Ofcom said it was aware of the issue and was “investigating” as well as working with the Advertising Standards Authority to ensure people were not misled by offers.
And in October, Which? got involved and resulted in the Ofcom Consumer Panel asking several top internet service providers (ISPs), including BT and Carphone Warehouse, to consider changing their sales practices.
However this new radio listener’s survey seems to confirm that nothing much has changed.
iPM’s George South said: “We got almost 600 responses which we’ve now crunched – and it appears a great deal of people paying for high-speed internet aren’t getting even half of the speed they signed up for.”
Putting pressure on Ofcom to act seems to be the only course of action for consumers to address this situation.
There are details of how to test your system, and complain, here.

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December 17th, 2007 at 12:21 pm

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A blog is for life, not just for Christmas

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December 15th, 2007 at 4:57 pm

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Literary blog launched

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A blog dedicated to the city’s literary world has been launched in Manchester.
The Manchester Lit List is the name of the newly launched Manchester Library blog which reports on literature events and news in Manchester Libraries.
The blog also features author profiles and other material such as links to blogs and sites of help to writers.
Organisers say, it’s early days yet, but they hope the blog will be a regular port of call for literature fans searching for Manchester info.

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December 10th, 2007 at 10:02 am

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Get some blogging help

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Aspiring bloggers are being offered some hands-on help with a blogging workshop in the city next month.
Top bloggers, Kate Feld of The Manchizzle and the Manchester Blog Awards, and Chis Horkan of Mancubist will be hosting the session on Saturday, January 19.
See here for more details.
The session is being held between 1 – 3 pm at MDDA, Portland Street but places are limited to ten people.
Book by calling the Manchester Literature Festival office on 0161 236 5725, or by emailing admin@manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk

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December 7th, 2007 at 4:54 pm

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Most viewed news this week

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Americans seem to have an incredulous interest in aspects of our education system. Over on the main M.E.N website, thousands of online users viewed our story about schools dropping cash incentives for pupils this week.
The M.E.N revealed that children at Buile Hill secondary in Salford were promised cash in return for achieving marks of grade C and above.
But the scheme was quietly dropped after one year - although no parents or pupils and few staff were told.
Many of the people who read that story and shared it with their online networks, said they thought the whole idea of incentives for exam results was unfair.
The story was viewed more than 23,000 times on the day it was published alone with most users accessing it via the sharing site Fark where it has been clicked 23,068 times and attracted 86 comments already.

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December 7th, 2007 at 11:36 am

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Telegram boys wanted

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In the days before email was the primary source of communication and the telephone was not only unmobile but also a rareity, getting messages out fell to the many Telegram Messenger boys based up and down the country.
Now former telegram boy Roger Green is hoping he can harness the power of the internet to bring those messengers togther again and share memories of their moment in history.
He’s set up a website as part of www.birminghamsandsclub.co.uk and has already started receiving messages from people who worked across Greater Manchester and the rest of the UK.
He said: “We record past memories of their years as Telegram Messenger Boys sent to us, and also feature photographs of the past reunions. There is also a message board for everyone to leave messages for one another and to reunite past work colleagues. We will also be constantly updating these pages to display reunions and activities being planned.
“We hope that former Telegram Messenger Boys from all ove Great Britain and beyond will enjoy the site, and that they feel free to contribute stories / articles, and any old photographs that can be sent on e-mail file attachment that they wish to be viewed on the site. We also accept any correspondence through the post, and will return all items after they have been scanned onto the website.
“Most of the Telegram Messenger Boys began work aged 14 or 15 and delivered telegrams on foot, by bike and then motorcycles in the days before telephones were widespread and In the war years the sight of a telegram boy sent shivers into the heart of women who had family members serving in the Armed Forces, It was part of the job to deliver telegrams notifying next of kin that a loved one had either gone missing in action or had been killed on active service.”
He can be contacted via the site or by snail mail to Roger Green, S.H.C., Birmingham Mail Centre, St Stephens Street, Aston, Birmingham. B6 4AA.

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December 2nd, 2007 at 4:00 pm

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