Barcelona photos from last week-end

Barcelona beach

I took the below pictures below last week-end in Barcelona. I went to see a Depeche Mode concert with my best friend Amandine and we all had a great time with Caroline, Agathe and Mehran.

Barcelona Beach House with view of boat through the window
Barcelona Beach House with view of boat through the window
Barcelona Port: Sunny Shadows
Barcelona Port: Sunny Shadows
Barcelona Beach: Ron the Sandman
Barcelona Beach: Ron the Sandman

If you like these you may want to check out the set of photos

Enjoy

Braun Triumph toothbrush coupon con in France

braun oral b triumph professional care 9900 coupon con

I bought a Braun electronic toothbrush several months ago and just decided to write about it because I now want to buy a shaver but because of what happened with the Braun toothbrush purchase I have decided that regardless of the reviews, the proof or any other type of argument that may indicate (which you’ll see is not the case) that I should get a Braun shaver I WILL NOT.

braun oral b triumph professional care 9900 coupon con
braun oral b triumph professional care 9900 coupon con

Why may you ask, be so stubborn. Well I purchased a Braun Triumph toothbrush from Cdiscount and was promised a partial refund by sending it back with a coupon and proof of purchase.
The morning I received the toothbrush by post I sent the coupon on with everything asked for:
- Code bar from the box
- Bill with date of purchase
- Coupon filled in with all the information.

Several weeks if not months later I get a letter from some company I have never heard of saying that because I took more than 5 days to send the coupon in after the purchase I was disqualified and would not get the money from Braun. Also to be noted there was no email to contact anybody, neither Braun where ever they are in France and just a snail mail address for this company that did a great job of looking through the elements I sent. They might have seen that I purchased it online, and that well, guess what, you can’t send via email so it takes time for me to get the box with the code bar needed to get the refund.
You should know BRAUN coupons are a con in France and they cheat you!

So I will not spend another cent on anything from Braun. I am not going to buy a Phillips Sonic toothbrush just to spite them since the Braun toothbrush works fine but obviously don’t buy one ;)

Philips Flexcare Toothbrush
Philips Flexcare Toothbrush

However as explained I am now looking for a shaver and well I started looking at the Philips shaver because unlike the Braun toothbrush I am unhappy with my Braun shaver. I have looked at the Philips site and reviews about the arctic shaver and I must say for a dude like myself it looks like a cool gadget and looks a lot sexier than the Braun shaver. The whole cleaning system on my Braun one is just not good. But obviously for the moment I can’t compare. but I soon will be able to because as you guessed from the beginning of my post there is no way in hell I’m buying another Braun product. And to make it funnier I couldn’t even link to the page about the equivalent Braun product because it is all in Flash and couldn’t get an image either although I could from the Philips site because they were clever enough to do it in HTML with Flash rather than a full Flash site!

Philips 1095 Arcitec Rotary Shaver
Philips 1095 Arcitec Rotary Shaver: now does that look sexy or what

And the time indicator had better be readable upside down like on the image or else I will not be happy :)

I was also impressed by the Philips site because you could check the manual out. I was wondering whether the shaver would charge in the cleaning system and was able to confirm by ready the first few pages of the manual. But also found out that what looks to be just a cool looking travel case actually charges the shaver at the same time. You can buy it on their site and register the product online which is pretty cool. I found that the video that runs through the functions etc was good, although I felt the voiceover in French was a bit annoying, but that could just be me…

Field of flowers

Just had a look over some photos I took when I went to Britanny a few weekends ago with Amandine. I came across some taken when we stopped in a field full of some vibrantly coloured flowers !

Field of flowers
Field of flowers
Field of flowers
Field of flowers: detail

Lovely :)

Longing for a really unique and luxury iPod again

ipodfamily.jpg

The Washington Post writes about the iPod and how with iTunes it holds nearly 70 percent of the market. When I bought my first (and only) iPod several years ago it was a luxury product. The iPod has kept key functions and design concepts while getting smaller thinner and more powerful.

ipodfamily.jpg

Even though the new iPods are without doubt the best designed portable music players on the market I feel that Apple has not provided as much innovation as I would have expected. The consistent attacks on developers providing software to transfer music from the iPod to your PC (yes computers do crash) and refusing to let iTunes transfer to anything else than an iPod is a real pain. I only own an iPod but I don’t like the way Apple is behaving at all !

ipod_both.jpgWhen you look at Macs, PowerPCs, iMacs etc there is a real innovative strength that is sometimes breathtaking in new models. With the iPod, there is far less innovative strength in my opinion. It must be said, with such an awesome initial design, it may well have rendered innovative ‘next steps’ far more difficult. But when you think that the iPod is now capable of showing videos why restrict users with such a tiny screen ?

Adding the ability to have the full length of the handheld as a screen would have been a nice touch. Hopefully Apple will be back from the drawing board soon with a new dazzling design that will again be a really unique and luxury item among portable media players.

WebWag : your personal page

webwag.jpg

A personal page service that allows you to choose what and where you add content, isn’t new, but when it just does that, then it quickly provides more than the others, with more freedom in the what (you add) area.

I recently finished work on a plug-in that provides personal page functions, so I appreciate the value of WebWag, it is very impressive. Both functional and usability aspects are good. This type of product is capable of easily expanding services and functions as well.

webwag

You can add pages that appear as tabs at the top of the page, rename the whole area, add, move delete the boxes that correspond to the different functions and content that appears. I didn’t find a way to edit the way the page looks (colours, font size, column width, page width). Also it could be me, but I couldn’t place search anywhere else but in the middle column.

The system is impressive however and I think it will only get better…

CD et DVD vierges

J’utilise pas mal de DVD et parfois des CD, j’ai même gravé mon premier DVD double couche avant hier. Tel un enfant devant un jouet j’ai lu Nero qui me disait qu’il gravait la première couche, puis un peu plus tard la deuxième couche (et ouais c’était du X2.4) !

Je me faisais avec cette première expérience de double couche une copie de SuSE 10.1. Mais le but ici est de vous parler de mon fournisseur. Je vous préviens je n’y gagne rien à vous en parler, ce n’est pas un échange de bons procédés avec la société en question. Au contraire c’est un échange de bons procédés avec vous. Car je veux vous expliquer comment je m’y prends.

Je passe par une société anglaise pour mes CD, DVDs et sacoches pour CD/DVD. C’est la même société qui me fournit (je me prends pour le roi d’Angleterre) depuis maintenant 3 ans. Au début, ce que j’aimais c’était leurs infos pour alerter sur la compatibilité du CD ou DVD avec tel ou tel graveur. Au fil du temps les graveurs se sont améliorés donc ces infos sont moins importantes.
Mais les clients peuvent laisser des commentaires. J’ai beaucoup aimé le coup de la sacoche quasiment donné. Un de leurs clients marque “c’est nul”, le service de support de la société ajoute “Pouvez donner un peu plus de détails pour permettre aux autres de mieux comprendre”, plus bas un autre marque “Si on la transporte beaucoup, la sacoche tombe en morceaux” C’est vrai que des sacoches pour abriter 400 CD ou DVD à 9 Euros, on peut imaginer, mais comme répond un autre client. “Moi je m’en sers pour ranger chez moi et c’est parfait”. La note donnée par les clients pour des produits moins bons est en dessous des 5/10, et c’est chose rare! Lorsque plusieurs personnes donnent des notes dont la moyenne finale est entre 9 et 10, vous avez certainement en face d’un produit hors pair…

Une commande vient de m’arriver. Il s’agit d’une commande groupée. Lorsque je passe par SVP je préviens les amis, on se met d’accord sur ce que dont a besoin, puis je regarde les offres ‘Bulk’. On peut par exemple commander un carton de 200 Verbatim (Taiyo Yuden) (16x) DVD-R pour £47.31 (environ 70 euros). Et ce n’est qu’un exemple parmi d’autres avec des marques comme Panasonic, TDK, RiDisc, DataSafe etc. J’ai même pris des TDK ‘ScratchProof’ qui sont, soi-disant, 10 fois plus résistants aux rayures et aux traces de doigts. Avec les DVD que je prête à mon père et qui me reviennent avec cette impression qu’on leur a donné un coup de Spontex, ce n’est pas une mauvaise idée !

Le port est d’environ 14 Euros (pour la France) donc il est intéressant de passer une ‘bonne’ commande chez eux (à plusieurs ?) et le port ne fait même plus mal. Je vous conseillerai aussi de prendre des CD ou DVD que vous connaissez, ou de marque, car par expérience ce n’est pas le milieu de gamme qui est le plus intéressant. Avec les moins cher vous devez vous attendre à avoir des ratés dans le lot mais avec les CD de marque comme Verbatim, Panasonic et TDX je n’ai pas encore eu de raté. Je ne compte pas le coup où l’orage m’a eu en pleine gravure. Forcément le DVD gravé était HS mais en les 2 qui ont suivis, c’était aussi des ratés.
Petite astuce, lorsque l’ordinateur est éteint brutalement en plein milieu d’une gravure, il faut désinstaller Nero, le réinstaller et tout redevient comme avant !
D’ailleurs renvoyer, comme on peut le faire avec SVP, lorsqu’il y a un problème, reviendrait cher comme avec toute commande par Internet.

Voilà, je vous le dis, pour les CD et DVD vierges je vous conseille SVP. A vous de voir maintenant !

GoDaddy for Domains

I don’t usually write about services that I use and often see people ranting about things rather than helping you and saying this is a good service. So, today I had a great experience with a US based company called GoDaddy. I needed to register three domain names, a variation on the same domain (with and without hyphens) and also wanted to be able to do what is now called private registration. This consists of using alias information for the whois record that without going for a more commercial explanation allows me to hide email and address information from the spammers that be!

Well, although I found that there a few extra pages in the registration process than I would have liked to see the process was fairly straight forward and easy to understand what was on offer. The final summary page with the ability to remove unwanted services that may have slipped in must be done with AJAX because it was very simple to use (without the page refreshing).
I then got an email about my domain name registration, another about the private registration service and a third from GoDaddy (himself ;))

Next step: logging in and checking the DNS data about the domain name. This is where I got an error message: no account like that could be found ! I tried copying it again as blank spaces sometimes slip in and are considered part of the account number. No, no luck.

Well I’m in France so I thought since I can call the US for free let’s give them a call. After choosing ‘domain name support’ I was asked to key in my account number. This time I got a message saying that the account number had not been recognised ! Anyway the call carried on and I was told it would be about 4 minutes wait. I thought just enough time to make a cup of tea. Anyway just over a minute later I got a GoDaddy support person welcoming me ! Good job and I hadn’t left to make the cup of tea, but a nice surprise.
I explained the issue and he asked me if I was sure about the password and to be honest I wasn’t actually.

I don’t know how you create your passwords. Hopefully you don’t use your children’s names or pets names or your own. The number of times when I set up computers for people and I ask them what password they want to use and they’ll say “Err what about: Fred?” And I say “And what about something a bit longer and with some numbers ?”

Anyway when you try to get clever you can end up forgetting the password like I had done. Also wasting time for the GoDaddy Support guys (and maybe girls ?!). Hey I just spoke to Daniel but there may be women other than the pretty ones wearing T-Shirts on the home page LOL !

Anyway the support guy was kind, helpful and even asked me if I could help me with anything else. Well you may think that is normal but over here in France it is just not normal. You’re often lucky if you get a smile in the supermarket. When my mother in England asked for 1000 tea bags at the local Asda supermarket, the person actually took her to the area in the supermarket and then got some guy to fetch a box to put them in. Here in France they’d say “Go down there it’s after the cereals”, don’t even dream about them showing you, let alone helping you out.

So anyway it was refreshing and a nice experience, on top of the fact that I was the one that created the problem in the first place.

And to top it all I got a great deal. Three domains privately registered for 21.60 dollars. A special offer since I would have paid $26.95 for the domain names plus $26.97 for the private registrations (since I bought three this amount was dropped) normally/separately. You’ll have to check if the deal is still on, I don’t know how long it will last !

Now that I have reset the password courtesy of Daniel the support guy I have also been able to login so all is well that ends well. There are a lot of options and functions… Wow !

Single 1 – Married 0

A fascinating article at the New York Times covers the trend that being single is gaining on being married. The article called “Facing Middle Age With No Degree, and No Wife” that spans four pages discusses the factors that have changed the demographics in the US; it used to be that men in their mid 40s were nearly all married.
The article tries to point to education as a key factor that leads men to be loosing their ‘must have’ allure for women. Women no longer need to rely upon men like they did in previous generations. This extract clarifies that idea however :

“It is a mistake to think of this as just happening to the underclass at the bottom,” said Christopher Jencks, a professor of sociology at Harvard. “It is also happening to people with high school diplomas or even some college. That is the group that has been most affected by the decline in real wages in the last 30 years.”

The new freedom that past generations of women have fought for, is often destabilising for both women and men. Education and upbringing is not always in sync with this equality and can lead to the rejection of the other. Women are far less inclined to sit, smile and be docile like was expected of them in previous generations. Men however faced with this new feminine touch sometimes prefer a single life, without the hassle of fighting for a place in the couple. Coping and adapting to their new freedom can be hard for both men and women. As the New York Times article explains women are often interested in a man that can offer better financial prospects :

“Men don’t marry because women like myself don’t need to rely on them,” said Shenia Rudolph, 42, a divorced mother from the Bronx.

This isn’t about disgruntled divorcees from previous generations that have given up on the idea of finding someone else, it’s a whole new ball game with each player trying to find a place for themselves. Finding a place for yourself in society is also a factor that leads to both men and women putting their careers first and the search for the significant other comes after.
In the comedy “The Devil wears Prada” Glen Close is portrayed as the Thatcher type woman that is as hard as nails, while sneak peaks at her family life try to strip the iron lady image to show a more fragile reality (a bit too simplistic though). On the other hand her assistant rises gloriously to ‘her’ challenge only to find that she has lost her soul in the process (again the film is ‘nice’ but the script here was also far too easy).
Imagine Me and You” ia an English film with Piper Perabo that I really enjoyed. It compares to a Richard Curtis film (4 Weddings…) but I felt it was more ‘real’ and sensitive while trying to touch on the difficulties couples face today…

Back in real life though, where everything isn’t always perfect, it’s nice to be around normal people. I’m talking about normal people here, as opposed to men or women that can’t communicate properly and blow their tops as soon as life isn’t going exactly the way they want. Where everyone around them gets the wrong end of the stick when they’re feeling down, or they’ve had a bad day, or they just woke up, or you don’t agree with them, or… hey, you get the picture; every other day basically ! My advice when faced with this type, cut them loose and enjoy your life !

Men that don’t change and adapt to this ‘new deal’ are likely to drive women away, just like women that take the equality game too far will drive the men away. It’s completely hypocritical to, on the one hand, sing the benefits of gallantry, expect a man to do all the DIY chores, while also expecting him to do the washing up and cooking in the name of the equality of sexes. It works both ways, women should start looking at doing more DIY in the house if they are really honest about the equality between men and women. In a recent relationship I was told that it was normal for me to do cooking, washing-up and cleaning but that putting a picture up on the wall was a man’s job, it was DIY !

“Changing women’s expectations about what married life should be like has put more tension into these relationships,” Mr. Jencks said. “Men who have graduated from college have been more responsive and ready to accommodate those changes than those who haven’t.”

A good friend of mine’s wife recently explained to me that she couldn’t understand why couples put so much pressure on each another. The “high expectations they put on each other just weighs the couple down and makes them resentful of one another when they are unfulfilled. The couple and the relationship need to breathe and too much pressure is suffocating.”

No smoking

Last Saturday during a dinner with friends we started talking about the latest ‘Enjeux, Les Echos’ magazine. One of the articles covers the trend in the US whereby certain companies are refusing to hire people that smoke. There are also companies that are doing all they can to get workers to participate in sports activities.
Anyway, the subject of smoking… Aaah, I love that one…

Before going any further I must admit, I am not only against smoking, but I do everything I can to stop people from smoking in my presence. This behaviour in France, where smoking is kind of a tradition is often considered selfish.
Yes, believe it or not, smokers in France 9 times out of 10 get away with making people who don’t want to participate in secondary smoking look as if they are the bad guys. A ‘je ne sais quoi’ of “you are depriving me of the freedom to smoke where I want”, even if it means getting you to smoke their cigarettes, like it or not.

The well known “Well I don’t complain when you…”, “You’ve got bad habits that I put up with…”, “There are 5 of us that smoke and only 2 of you that don’t…” often come up in the conversation.
Responding when the debate starts off at such a low level and off the point is pretty useless…

If you’re really lucky you’ll be with people that previously smoked, secretly enjoying being able to breathe in the smoke of others ! So when you complain about the smoking they feel a bit like dear in the headlights, wondering whether people will realise their secret about enjoying secondary smoking, playing on the “it’s their right to smoke” supporting act !

It’s true in France there are an enormous amount of people that smoke and my impression is that far more girls and women smoke than boys and men. A friend who is a teacher in Ireland, on holiday over here in France last year was telling me how the kids that he brought over to France on exchange actually came back shocked by how many young kids where smoking.

In France people often quote the sentence “La liberté des uns s’arrête là où commence celle des autres” : Your freedom ends where the other person’s freedom begins. I also use the concept, this simplistic though it may be, to understand different situations. Smoking never seems to get past it though. Smoke doesn’t just stop in a bubble that surrounds the smoker; it’s free to ride like the wind, wherever it wants…

Smoking is less of a solitary habit, often it’s group induced.
People share their smoke with those around them. If you’re in the restaurant and feel like enjoying the subtleties of the food you are eating (smokers’ taste buds are dead to these subtleties), you can be sure at least one table will have a smoker that is willing to share his smoke with you. Age isn’t a problem either, they’ll share their smoke with you even if your first teeth haven’t appeared !

Smoking isn’t just bad for us humans though, one of best friends recently asked me to have a look at a computer that died on him. After taking it to bits we found out that the previous owner had both not cleaned it and smoked. The combination of dust and smoke had created a near solid component in certain areas that had rendered most heat reduction systems like fans and the copper radiators completely useless. Resulting in the death of the poor computer…

It can get worse though; you can actually have a smoker close by that will provide the whole house with a fragrance that will remain for years to come…

But whether you’re in France or coming to France, don’t abide by the rules that the smokers are helplessly trying to keep intact. Blow on the cinders of change so that the heat is on the smokers to change. Don’t let selfish habits make you feel you’re the one that should give in. At the end of the day, it’s your life and health that are at risk…

Outlook refusing to start Word

Well this morning I was set to write to Mike to say that it was a pleasure working on the translation of his great article at ‘A List Apart’ and Word refused to start :

Microsoft Word is set to be your e-mail editor. However, Word is unavailable, not installed, or is not the same version as Outlook. The Outlook e-mail editor will be used instead.

Google provided me with some links to Microsoft support and suggested re-installing Office ! Then I realised that a) Suse is just such a nicer experience all round, b) Microsoft often seems to take the long road to all solutions and c) my memory is getting bad since I had already come across this issue.

So I changed my Google query slightly and found my joy ?!
It’s weird since I had also just downloaded and installed Nero 7 to try it out and after the thing crashed on me multiple times and left me with a half burned backup DVD (i.e. useless), I uninstalled it !

So when you get the above message you can either re-install Word as suggested by MS or just run this line of code in DOS :

Start > Run > Open (and type in the field the following code) : Regsvr32.exe %Windir%\System32\Ole32.dll

which saved me maybe an hour or more of uninstalling and reinstalling Office !