Monday, 30 August 2010

Why was there no book with our new computer?

It simply didn't need one?

I have to write about this because I am so excited I feel ready to burst - "enthusiasm is leaking out of my every pore and lying two feet deep on the floor".

For those that don’t know me I have been involved with computers in some way every day for forty years, Our timber building business has changed over the last couple of years and our computer network first installed as a mail order system at Bracken House in 1995 had not totally kept pace. The first step of replacing our workshop systems had been completed some weeks ago and it was now time to bring our home office up to date.

My idea was to purchase a good laptop for Noella and organise our business and personal data in such a way that some of the office space was redundant and could be converted into a nursery for our developing grandchildren to stay.

The Dell laptop chosen by Noella is” fuchsia pink”! And according to the salesman at PC World Chester was a “very good spec” (dual core 500 g’s of everything, total connectivity, built in web cam, audio visual db’s, blue dentures the lot, in fact there was a tea making button and on voice command from the lounge it would transmit anything in breathtaking 3d realism to any device or surface available!!!).

Well you can imagine - as a long, long sufferer having spent 20% of my waking lifetime re-booting windows in total frustration I took this all with a pinch of salt and prepared myself for more of the same.

What a change and what a pleasant surprise / shock / astonishing experience I have had.
I prepared a plan, allocated the time, took off the box seal and looked for the instruction manual usually written in 700 languages of unusable gobbledygook – “the damn book was missing”.
Instead of returning to PC World to protest I did what I had told myself not to do (started without it).

Here is my experience and why I am so excited:

On lifting the lid I spotted a silver button – central over the keyboard and pressed it of course. The Dell laptop sprung to life, asked for me to be patient and answer a few questions. These were simple questions and it gave responses to my answers in simple speak. It reassured me that all was well as it connected automatically to our network and the internet in fact it connected itself to just about every damn thing on the planet each time asking for my permission and apologising when it needed my input to make sure that our data was secure etc.

Over the next few hours “it set itself up”, organising all our last fifteen years of data, photographs, music, business programs, etc. it apologised for making me wait but was visibly working at blistering pace with each request keeping me reassured and truly amazed.

It spotted our son on line in Surrey and put us in contact with video, and sound - it was like being there with the family instead of 300 miles away. We all sat amazed as the smelly vision box (an optional extra) output the delicious aroma of cooking in their kitchen.

On closing the lid it went to snooze but didn’t stop working because on re-opening it had protected our data against malicious viruses. Updated itself with all software upgrades and scanned 125,000 documents and images indexing them in a way that simple searching would find anything and deliver it anywhere virtually instantaneously. It kindly explained that things could be better organised but in reality you could leave everything in a disorganised pile on the hard disk and still recall something from 12 years ago in a couple of seconds.

I sat just now staring at the screen with incredulity and wrote this note:

How far this technology has come – truly astounding!
Straight out of the box The Dell “Fuchsia Pink” laptop combined with windows 7 is a life changing package, well done Dell, well done PC World and well done Microsoft not forgetting intel and Google desktop search. My faith is restored, my sanity saved and our clients will be better served from our home office!

With this computer there was no book and I now understand why “it simply didn’t need one”.

Richard Grace and

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Family Garden Studio

We just finished this project in a small Stockport garden. An unusual combination of bike store and family garden room. Designed and built by ourselves for a specific purpose and now fulfilling it. There are two areas 4m * 3.5m studio with trifold doors and covered entry deck area + 2m * 4.4m bike store. The store is convertible to a bedroom shower area should this be required at a later date. It is on a different level from the studio to suit the small well landscaped garden (landscape modifications by us).

The trifold doors purchased from B&Q are excellent (if you know which checkout to go through with them). Fitting is easy and the quality of these pre-finished ones is very good. You can see here how they open to give excellent access to the Garden.

On site the old lady next door made us a good few brews and we helped her by removing rubbish from her garden (a plastic shed and her old bike). It was a pleasure to see how well the neighbours and someone from as far away as Wirral turned up to help her by mowing the lawn etc. etc. Genuine help and support in this neighbourhood is alive and long may it go on. Well done Stockport!

I am looking at her old bike in the rubbish bay of our workshop - it seems a bit sad she won't ride it again!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

A bit of frustration with our communications (Update)

Today I received a letter on HOUSE OF COMMONS notepaper fro Stephen Moseley MP saying he has written to Ian Livingston Chief Executive of BT Group Plc asking him to look into our case. Jeremy Hunt MP Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Sport and the Olympics has also been asked to comment.

I will update when further info comes through.

Our BT broadband at the workshop is now working fine improving our communications with customers and helping us to do business. The only thing that was a bit frustrating is the difficulty in configuring email through this system to display the from address as It seems that BT has built in to their package difficulty in avoiding the BT brand name. I was however impressed by the way their technician took remote control of my laptop and guided me through the many steps required to achieve this..

I was left with the impresion that:

1. This is a further attempt on monopolistic practice (I might be wong here)
2. The technician was used to my request and knew it was difficult but necessary for businesses to maintain there image + use the system for sending and receiving email from multiple locations.
3. The technician was a true expert at this.

Please don't get the impression I have it in for BT but they did break my contract and leave me stranded without communications and both Noella and I are proud of our 16 year history of great customer service in our small business.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Log Cabin (in need of restoration)

Last weekend Noella and I visited our grandchildren in the South and stayed at my old training school (now a hotel). I couldn't resist taking a walk around the grounds to see the log cabin we used as a changing room some 35 years ago. What a shock!

This once beutiful log cabin built from 120mm round logs has been allowed to start rotting due to lack of repairs to the roof. A lesson I suppose for shedworkers to make sure your roof is maintained. This cabin would cost more than £30,000 today (it was not built by us of course). The roof was covered in ordinary shed felt and has decayed under the trees over a perion of 30+ years.

The whacky A Frame on the same site once featured in architectural magazines has long since followed a similar path to complete decay. An interestingly designed tall triangle rising to 5 metres in height with two floors. (not suitable at all for the average garden)

Next week I will post pictures and information on our current project a 6m Garden Studio with storage. Weather remains good for outdoor building. Our workshop telephone and broadband network is working now after the long battle with BT and Openreach.

More on log cabin visit and A frame at

About Me

My photo
Richard is an experienced business consultant specialising in garden structures design and planning + The UK's leading expert in using Pinterest for business marketing web traffic generation at lowest cost.