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February 26, 2005

My new book... About Time

Very exciting this: the publisher of my forthcoming book has details on their website and the option to pre-order.

I say 'my book' as I am editor and wrote the introduction, but it features scintillating chapters from some of the world's leading thinkers including Will Hutton, Baroness Warnock, Jonathon Porritt, Geoff Mulgan, David Boyle, Ghillian Prance, Jay Griffiths and Martin Rees.

When they think about time, it is worth listening, so may I recommend you pop over to Greenleaf publishing to pre-order?

As the blurb says:

For readers of books such as No Logo and Longitude, this book provides a thought-provoking twist, bringing together time and sustainability in a refreshing, provocative and accessible way.

February 26, 2005 in About Time book | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 25, 2005

Wry quote of the day

"For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three"
Alice Kahn

February 25, 2005 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 22, 2005

Where there's a Will...

...there is generally some good linkery and provoking comment:Potlatch: Will Davies' blog. He's been a bit more prolific of late.

In particular I commend the sentence in his damning of 10x10:

10x10 would do for journalism what Powerpoint has done for public speaking.

Will also muses on mobile telephony, celebrity and philosophy, though quite what Ms Hilton would make of it, is anyone's guess.

Finally, I commend to you on a more serious note, his post about the difference between policy and politics and Mysociety'sTom Steinberg's comment (beneath my rather facetious one):

So politics is about much more than picking policies - it is about all this intangible emotional stuff that career politicians are so good and, and which confuses and upsets us wonks... [P]olitics, despite my love of it, remains as bafflingly closed a book to me as any theory of quantum mechanics.

February 22, 2005 in Observations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That's you that is

The Demos blog links to this delightful del.icio.us hack: extisp.icio.us by Kevan Davis.

It maps out your del.icio.us tags in a pleasingly visual fashion.

extisp.icio.us - for A Gentleman's Commonplace's tags.

February 22, 2005 in Observations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 18, 2005


I've just posted a few thoughts on a copyright and public domain seminar I went to at the ippr yesterday at altfunction

February 18, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Oven blues

Warning: minor rant.

My oven stopped working in the middle of me cooking a beautiful piece of roast beef (with roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, the works). Four weeks ago.

I know the beef was beautiful because my girlfriend lives round the corner from me and in somewhat comic fashion we drove the extremely rare joint round to her's to finish it off.

The next day I called MilleniumElectrical (sic). I should have made note of the fact that they cannot spell 'millennium' but they seemed very reasonable on the phone: get the parts you are likely to need yourself, they said, so that we don't need to make two visits. It's cheaper for you, they said.

I agreed and then started a telephone Odyssey around the service systems of Electrolux UK, ServiceForce and various contractors. Some time later it was clear I would have to order and could not simply pick up a thermostat and element from a local store. The said items were ordered and were expected within a few working days.

The invoice arrived, duly noting a thermostat and an element.

Then the box arrived. With a cutlery holder for a dishwasher.

I rang them. They apologised and agreed to send the right items.

A week later a small package arrived with a thermostat and a note saying they were out of elements.

Two weeks on the element arrived. I called MilleniumElectical - I'm in Thursday morning, could you come and fix my oven? No problem.

Yesterday I rang them: it's one o'clock. I have to go out, where is the engineer?

He's overrunning and should have called you. He'll make you his first call tomorrow.

This morning I waited an hour. I had to go to work and he didn't appear. Had Tony phoned to say he was running late, had an emergency to fix or even just a hangover I might have been pissed off but mildly accepting. Instead, I was just angry. I rang to find out where he was but got no reply.


The point? Rants don't always have points, but there are two:
a) They lost a customer. Bad news for them. They lose maybe £50-100 now but possibly several hundred or thousand pounds in future. They didn't call to let me know what was going on. I had to do the calling. Customer service is not just about being reactive: good customer service is proactive. If you can't make the appointment, you ring in advance and keep the customer in the know

b) This is more important. I am not happy with MilleniumElectrical. I tell you (some of whom live in South London) and you avoid them too - so they lose some more potential customers. Moreover, because I link to them, with any luck, when someone types in some of the terms 'oven electrical engineer south London millennium millenium electrical poor service' they will get my opinion of the company's poor service. Is this fair? Yup. They are not responsible for the screw-up with the parts, but their poor service means I am justified to warn others that they might get poor service too.

The sooner such service companies, however small, get this and realise the power of the internet to share such information, the sooner they'll improve their service.

There rant over.

February 18, 2005 in Observations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 17, 2005

Whatever became of the Schleswig-Holstein problem?

The 'Schleswig-Holstein Problem' was famously one of the intractable diplomatic concerns of the nineteenth century, a phrase redolent of Crimea, Bismarck, the Khyber Pass, the 'Great Game' and other concerns of the Victorian diplomat.

British Prime Minister Viscount Palmerston famously claimed that only three people understood it: Prince Albert (who was dead), a German professor (who had gone mad) and Palmerston himself (and he'd forgotten it).

Now, it seems that Schleswig-Holstein is back on the political agenda. Link: Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | Simon Tisdall: Danes look to master Schleswig again.

February 17, 2005 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 16, 2005

Cookin' With Google

Nice hack this. Type in your ingredients, select type of cuisine and before you know it a veritable smorgasbord of recipes appears.

Link: Cookin' With Google.

February 16, 2005 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 14, 2005

I Ate My iPod Shuffle

erasing.org: an Ogden Nash for the 21st century?

No need to make a big kerfuffle.
But yes, I ate my iPod shuffle.
The websites warned me not to, sure.
But sometimes one must ask: Wherefore?
Its sleek design was so damn sweet,
It just looked good enough to eat.

erasing.org / I Ate iPod Shuffle

February 14, 2005 in Humour | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 11, 2005

New blog: altfunction

At last, time to unveil a sibling for A Gentleman's Commonplace: altfunction - a blog exploring corporate responsibility, technology, media and creativity.

Everything that doesn't fit there will still appear here, though you'll need to check that your bookmarks are for http://firstdraft.blogs.com/gentlemanscommonplace, as very shortly http://firstdraft.blogs.com will default to altfunction

Go on, have a look.

*Update: Thanks Jane - link amended*

February 11, 2005 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack