Category Archive: Musings

All You Need is Love

heartsBad customer care is one thing that can really annoy me. I’m sure all of us have come across it – and most of the time there is no need.

It switches people off, it can be, for the customer incredibly frustrating. And don’t you just love those people that speak from a script – whether you have a problem, or whether they are selling you something. All you want to do is have an intelligent conversation and have an answer or solution to your question. And it is a two way street.

Good customer care means people will be loyal. Being polite and helpful makes a difference. You will be remembered. People will tell their friends and family and in general chat how helpful you have been. Word of mouth recommendations can be so important to any business.

I’ve always had a rule when dealing with customers or clients. Don’t say no. Offer advice and direction. Even if you can’t provide a particular service – just being helpful and communicative can make all the difference, and at times make someone’s day when they are are having a bad one.

And even if you are complaining – a two way discussion in a fair and polite manner, no matter how annoyed you are, can make all the difference. A corporate complaints department will get grief all the time. Being nice about your grievances can make all the difference. And say thank you. Just two little words.

Myself and a group of people have been in conversation with a major communications firm for some time. If you communicate on a two way level there can be benefits for both sides, improving the firm’s service, engaging with making improvements and gaining benefits for helping them. All good stuff.

You can moan, shout and stamp your feet. But the best way of getting things done is to talk. Communicate.

All you need is love. Da da da da daaaaa……

Mick Karn RIP

Sad news from a couple of days ago, the news that Mick Karn had passed away. While the media were commenting on Gerry Rafferty (and Baker Street is indeed a classic), they overlooked the news on Karn.

Japan were truly seminal for their time, the peers which most new romantics ended up commenting on or being influenced by. Their first gigs were in ’74, when Karn was just 15. Listen to “Exorcising Ghosts” a greatest hits compilation released in 1984 to see why. I never saw them live, they split before I started going to gigs, and although they “reformed” in a manner, they never really reached their previous class. Karn went onto do so much more, including Dali’s Car with Pete Murphy.

As I type this I’m listening to “Methods of Dance”. Class. Sad loss of talent that maybe was never truly appreciated….

Keep Music Live….

I’ve been going to live gigs for more years than I could mention. I’ve seen pretty much everyone – from the mainstream to alternative, indie, goth, rock, big name acts, tiny acts….

I’ve seen hundred of bands.
And over the years, pretty much every venues in Birmingham and beyond….

I have an opinion on live gigs. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert – but I’ve seen so many, I have a view. And now I review for Brum Live.

guitarist-in-smoke2

For me it’s the experience of watching a live band – those wow! instances – where you go – that was awesome! I can remember the great experiences – and the not so good. I went to Monsters of Rock (Donnington), now Download. I was only a kid, it was probably the first time I’d been to an open air gig. I wasn’t massively into rock at the time – I was an indie / goth chick. We’d gone with a mate, cos she was into the headliners – Bon Jovi. It was cheap (yes in those days it really was) – it was different – I hadn’t been there before – and my mate was begging – so we went.

The day before it had been hot and sunny. That day it was torrential thunderstorms. We weren’t prepared – and there was no cover. It was the mid eighties, and there was just one stage, and very few stalls. We brought bin bags for something like £1 (crazy prices) to wear to attempt to keep us dry. It was mud pies everywhere. And the only dry place was a hanger, where the loos were. And flying around the hanger were bats! (Only at a rock gig!). I remember sitting on the track, four of us in a row. Freezing cold. Clearly a great picture, which kinda summed up the day – a photographer took pictures of us.

It was mid afternoon, and we sat there listening to one of the lower line-up acts, about fifth on the line-up. I can remember the song – it was cool. The song was ‘One.’ The band were Metallica….. Twenty years on, I returned, so see them play once again.

I hope that a little bit of my opinion, will help you decide whether to go and see the bands I review. Of course, everyone will have a view on what they saw. But these days the sad news is that many gigs by named acts are expensive. At times hugely expensive. You are looking at around £30 for a ticket, booking fee PER ticket, credit card charges, postal charges. And that’s before you get to the gig – some venues have exorbitant parking charges (the o2 in London Docklands charges £17.50 to park – madness when CLOSER to the venue there is a Rail Station car park at around £3 to park all day!) – others charge a small fortune it you fancy a drink or food. u2 stated recession busting tickets (average price £70!), Take That tickets sold from £50 – £75.

My current benchmark has to be what Metallica (back to them then) charged, to play in the round at the NEC (now LG). I stood 10 foot away from James Hetfield. They played for 2 and half hours. And then stayed on the stage after the gig to chat to fans. Whether you are a Metallica fan or not – they are one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Ticket price £32.00. For standing. There was no area in front of us – no “Golden Circle’.  (When I was there a mate texted me to see if I wanted to see a reformed Spandau Ballet. Ticket price £70. With a set of retro hits. The answer – NO!)

I understand that venues and bands have to make money. It’s a business at the end of the day. But the country’s broke. Times are tough. Don’t price live music out the market, through booking fees and other additional  costs….

Why people love (to hate) Apple

Apple. People love them. Or hate them.

apple_basketI remember seeing the famous 1984 advert to launch the Mac. The same year, I’d done computers at school as an ‘O’ level ( failed dismally) which entailed writing lines of text on a BBC computer to make it read my name across the screen. In addition, bizarrely, I was deemed to be too intelligent to learn to type! (and what do I use everyday – that’ll be a keyboard then!)

Roll on a couple of years and I was studying graphic design. In 1987 I used my first Mac. There was just one in the department. I’d been trained to put all those publications that we all see and use everyday – by hand!

This was different. On this little box you could type text. You could create perfect boxes. It was tiny – it had a black and white screen. Wow!

A few years later, after being palmed of with a PC with a 4mb hard drive to run 3 CDs of the famously rubbish and unwieldy Corel Draw, I got a Mac. A beige Powermac 7100. It was amazing. I could actually design. However, there was one or two limitations. You only run one piece of software at a time. Photoshop would take an age to process (off to make a cup then!)

And I’ve been through various stages of Macs – grey G3, blue G3, quicksilver G4, Mac Pro, G3 iMacs, current iMacs, various Mac laptops.

And each one has got better and better and faster and faster. And when you need to buy a new Mac you have a choice of three, with all the internal processors, cards, drives etc. To do the job you need to. No shopping around for components and hoping they’ll all work.

For me a Mac is a practical tool. It has little wow factor. I don’t really care what it looks like – I need it to deliver for me. And it does. Today I can design real time, at incredible speed.

But those of us who have used Macs know a few…..

  • Never buy the first model – there’s invariably a glitch. The second version is invariable fixed and working.
  • Apple sometimes go mad. Remember the Cube. As fast as a large G3 desktop, with tiny internal fans, there was scratches on the plastic case, part of the manufacturing process. It didn’t take off. And the PC/Mac. That didn’t last either.
  • Apple are innovative. They’ve continually pushed the boundaries, and okay, on occasions it doesn’t necessarily work. But their passion to drive forward interaction, pushing the boundaries not only of hardware, but software infrastructure too.
  • Once you’ve used a Mac you’ll never use a PC by choice again.
  • They don’t take fourteen hours to boot up.
  • They are beautifully created and designed.
  • They last – I’ve a 10 year old G3 iMac. It’s a tad slow – but it works better than most new PCs.

Apple have always been ‘out there’. They take risks, and develop concepts that only Apple would think of doing. They may not have the best MP3 player, but the iPod changed the world.

Phone’s were made by phone companies, not IT companies. And then came the iPhone. And it changed the way people thought about their phone and the entire industry is playing catchup.

And I’m typing this up on an iPad. And yes, I’ve broken my first rule of never buy the first model.  It’s cool, but limited. The next model will be awesome. And I’m in awe of the potential of how this little gizmo will (has) change(d) the world again. For many it looks like a big iPhone. For me, after all these years it bring an exciting and truly inspiring future.

People may love to hate Apple. But they inspire change. And we wouldn’t be in the same world without them.

 

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