Jay’s Notebook Archives

Lose concepts and vague ideas, those fleeting moments other people have a notepad for.

Here’s what Amazon sell as “new” these days

Remember how I was so thrilled about that new Blue Yeti microphone in my previous post, and how this thing sold out so quickly? Well it arrived… and I’m less than pleased with the service I’ve received from online giant Amazon.

What they’ve sent me as the correct item, but it was not a new item. It showed heavy signs of usage. Let me show you some pictures below, anon about that hilarious chat I had with their customer services agent.

Grab a coffee and read a funny story of how Amazon may have lost their edge in Customer Satisfaction.

Read moreHere’s what Amazon sell as “new” these days

How to use an iPhone on AT&T GoPhone – 2nd Edition

Since I travelled to the US last, AT&T have made some changes to the way you can use mobile data on your GoPhone plan. As of April 2012 you can no longer add data packages to the $2 per day plan. What a shame!

You’ll now have to go on a monthly plan to use data (which you can cancel anytime without commitment), everything else remains and works with my previous instructions.

AT&T still do not officially support the use of iPhone on GoPhone plans. The closet thing is a GoPhone Smartphone Plan which comes with a $65 per month commitment… a little harsh if all you need is to not get lost in a foreign country and then tweet about it.

Lucky for us there’s a much cheaper way to do this – so without further ado here’s a detailed “how to get your iPhone working” guide for all those who are spending a few weeks in the US and don’t want to pay £6 per 1MB roaming charges.

Read moreHow to use an iPhone on AT&T GoPhone – 2nd Edition

I’m doing NaNoWriMo 2012

There’s an annual National Story Writing Contest called NaNoWriMo. It happens every year in November and participants have exactly 30 days to write furiously to come up with a 50.000 word novel.

The idea is not to finish a masterpiece in this time, but rather to establish a daily routine in which the goal is to “do writing” rather than procrastinate, edit, try to perfect or think yourself out of a good idea. There are even local groups that come together and write in silence, but also to encourage each other to pull through to the magic 50k.

Many creatives have often remarked that there is no special spark that needs to happen for anything creative to happen, it’s rather about “sitting down and doing it” and not about “thinking about it”.

You know me, I’m up for a challenge – and it dawned on me that with such a cool writing tool as Storyist on my hands, plenty of forthcoming time ahead of me, and an amazing story to tell, NaNoWriMo is just what I need in the forthcoming twilight season I’d like to call Stateside.

Read moreI’m doing NaNoWriMo 2012

New Logo for 2012

Due to a fluke my logo disappeared from this site. I think it happened because I upgraded a plugin which inserted it via a HTML statement – sadly this plugin now has more functionality, however lost my logo in the upgrade process. It’s amazing how organized I am with other people’s work, but my own …

Read moreNew Logo for 2012

Dear Amazon Kindle Support

Today Amazon have released a new version of their Kindle for iOS App (3.0.1). This must be a direct response to some feedback I have sent over after the last update (3.0 for Retina and Amazon Cloud Integration). The previous update didn’t show new content after I had purchased it.

I love my Kindle, and I love my content. And I love the Kindle App on all my other devices: I can read on anything I happen to have with me: Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Laptop. That rocks!

Here’s a slightly annoying email thread I had with Amazon’s low level support who clearly didn’t understand the issue I was bringing up – from one developer to another.

Read moreDear Amazon Kindle Support

How to use an iPhone 4S on AT&T GoPhone

I’ve recently bought an iPhone 4S in the UK, knowing that I’ll mainly be using it on my AT&T GoPhone prepay plan while I’m in the US.

A quick web search on if and how this is possible showed various reports of varying clarity – so I thought I’d set the record straight and tell you that

  1. it WORKS, and
  2. you don’t need a jailbroken iPhone
  3. you WILL be able to use 3G data

Let me show how it all works.

There is an updated version of this article here.

Read moreHow to use an iPhone 4S on AT&T GoPhone

Apple gave me a brand new iPad today – NICE!

I’ve been witness to Apple’s amazing customer service today: My iPad had a minor screen problem, I bought it in a different country and didn’t have my receipt with me – and they’ve replaced it with a brand new one!

Cudos to all those involved and the mastermind behind creating a customer experience that’s second to none.

Read moreApple gave me a brand new iPad today – NICE!

Wacom Intuos 4 = Happiness

A couple of weeks ago I ordered us some proper Wacom Intuos 4 tablets – a small one and a wireless medium one. It’s love at first touch 😉

I’ve had a first generation Wacom Bamboo before and thought it would come in handy for touch up work in photo retouching and some other pen related activities, and even though it worked I never quite warmed to it. That was in 2008.

Back then I even invested in Manga Studio EX4 which had just come out thinking that my drawing skills would improve when I rtied the two together. Unfortunately the software is so unintuitive and the tablet was so basic that I soon lost interest in further explorations.

With the Intuos 4 that has all changed: it’s like drawing on a piece of paper with incredibly accurate feedback. It even recognises the angle of the pen to the tablet and changes the brush size and stroke accordingly. Whoa!

Read moreWacom Intuos 4 = Happiness

Twitter for Beginners

In a surprise move, my wife Julia has just joined Twitter. Welcome, @Julia_V1!

When I was at that point a couple of years ago I remember thinking “why oh why would I even consider joining this… er… movement?” I admit it’s hard to explain what makes it interesting. Twitter needs to be experienced to be appreciated.

Here’s a little how-to guide about the language and conventions used on Twitter, I thought this may be useful for other newbies too.

Grab a coffee while I tell you everything I know about the (apparently) hottest social network in the blogosphere.

Read moreTwitter for Beginners

London Riots Business Idea

With Anarchy breaking out in London over the last few days, I had a great business idea: sell remote controls for TVs that have been looted! We can also sell chargers for laptops that went walking from PC World & Co. We’ll create an interface where customers can pop on the serial number of the …

Read moreLondon Riots Business Idea

Two weeks without glasses

I went for an eye exam last week at Vision Excess in Wood Green. Turns out my prescription was too strong so I needed a new pair. In fact, I wanted to keep the frame and just have the lenses replaced.

This leaves me with my old glasses (which were too string before I got the ones that are now also too strong) so it’s royally screwing with my head.

Unless I just don’t wear glasses for a while – which is what I’m doing, and I gotta tellya: I’m enjoying the side effects!

Read moreTwo weeks without glasses

My Yahoo! Mail got hacked last night

It’s been less than a week since I’ve upgraded to the new Yahoo! Beta Mail and now everyone in my address book has been sent a spam link – allegedly by me.

This of course is a major ball ache.

However, it looks like there’s nothing in my sent items to collaborate the story – so I wonder how anyone could hack in? What’s more is that I’m one of countless people this has happened to – so many of my friends have had plague this recently.

Read moreMy Yahoo! Mail got hacked last night

Amazon Kindle: Magic Device from an Alternate Reality

Ninja is unpacking my new Kindle

I bought an Amazon Kindle yesterday – and it arrived today! There may have been an element of gadgettery addiction involved, but there certainly was another reason for me: with our move to the New World coming up, it doesn’t feel right to buy large books on software development when space and weight in that container will be at a premium.

I always thought of the Kindle as something like a pocket book replacement for when you need to kill time on the tube. I’m not reading anywhere enough Agatha Christie novels to make the Kindle a viable purchase.

On second thought though I’ve discovered that you can buy all these huge geeky dictionary like books on it too. I’m talking about those 1000 page epics about PHP and MySQL etc. You can buy the Kindle editions from Amazon cheaper than the printed versions, they don’t use up precious space on your shelf or on my tiny desk and I can bring them with me anywhere I go.

Sounds good, huh? With battery life of up to one month (cough!) and my impending purchase of The Definitve Guide to Apache Mod Rewrite I thought I’m going to treat myself. Let me share my first Kindle experiences with you in this article.

Read moreAmazon Kindle: Magic Device from an Alternate Reality

Tax Stickers: How to create Sequential Labels for my VAT returns

Note to myself:

Every three months I forget how on earth I get Word and Excel to talk to each other. It then takes several hours of internet research, trial and error and LOTS of stress to figure this out. Enough is enough!

Sit back, make yoruself a cup of tea and relax. We’ll get through this again. Here’s how I need to do this:

  1. Read moreTax Stickers: How to create Sequential Labels for my VAT returns

Back with a Vengeance: The Downtime is over!

Many of you will have noticed that this site has been down for the last few days weeks. Not good I know!

A nasty hacker attack was responsible and I was just too busy getting everybody else’s projects back up and running that this site lacked behind somewhat.

Anyway, a spontaneous day off is the perfect time to have my head filled with code and rebuilds – the result is here before you. We’re back up and running, better than ever at that! And boy have I got some stories to tell you.

Read moreBack with a Vengeance: The Downtime is over!

Did you know…

… that it takes

  • 15.500 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef?
  • 2.700 litres of water to produce a t-shirt?
  • 1.300 litres to produce 1kg of wheat?

WHOA! I know – it’s shocking to hear.

A new report by the Royal Academy of Engineering found that by 2030, we need 50% more food and and energy to feed the world due to a global population of 8bn people, along with an extra 30% of water.

Good luck finding that!

Read moreDid you know…

Miami Beach Huts are finally online

After nearly a year, I finally found the time to get back to work on the Miami Beach Huts project.

Over the last weekend I’ve uploaded all our output to a shiny new website called http://www.miamibechhuts.com featuring a shiny new WordPress Theme. Each Beach Hut we shot is featured, with (often too many) supplemental images.

Finally!

I couldn’t believe how much time has passed since I’ve last updated the site. Life just got busy I guess and there was just no room for Beach Huts. But they’re back now, and swisher than ever might I add: all pictures are colour corrected and we can get to work on the book we always wanted to make. Once that’s done, we’ll look into exhibitions over here and abroad.

Read moreMiami Beach Huts are finally online

My neighbour threw away my telly

My "new used" telly

So I discovered this excellent Panasonic 15” flat screen CRT telly on top of my wardrobe. I hadn’t used it in a few years and had originally bought it for video editing as a third monitor on my desk.

Julia and I decided it would make a nice addition in our house in Birmingham, and should we ever get round to renting it out it would be great in one of the bedrooms. We postponed going up quite a few times though, so I took the TV out of my flat and put it in front of my door. There’s a landing where I put stuff from time to time.

The weeks pass, as they do, and on Tuesday something rather bizarre has happened: my upstairs neighbour took it upon himself to decide that my telly would be classed as RUBBISH… He took it downstairs and put it on the side of our house.

I live in Haringey, so it must have taken about 30 seconds until someone grabbed it. Now it’s gone forever, with only a remote on my desk to show for it.

I was literally gone for one hour while all this happened, because I remember clearly seeing the TV when I left the flat – and it was gone when I came back. Only one question springs to mind: WTF?

Read moreMy neighbour threw away my telly

Going Limited: I’m changing my trading status from Sole Trader to Limited Company

Pinkstone Pictures, Ltd - live long and prosper

After 10 years of trading with Pinkstone Pictures I’m converting the business into a Limited Company. I’ve been putting this off for years, but tax implications give me the nudge to “get on with it.

Let me explain all the pros and cons, why I’m doing it and what’s changing in my paper trails with HMRC for tax and VAT returns.

I’ll update this article as I go along with this adventurous journey 😉

Read moreGoing Limited: I’m changing my trading status from Sole Trader to Limited Company

This Month in My Life

Melvin and me at MTV

I hadn’t seen my good friend Dave Lee in a while and thought I’d connect with him via email today. When I was finished typing, I realised that it would make an excellent update on this site as well – so let’s have a look at “What’s happening in Jay’s Life” 🙂

With many of my friends, colleagues and Internet acquaintances getting into blogging, I find it hard to keep track of who’s writing an update and when. With Twitter and Facebook it’s so convenient to scan through the headlines if and when I have the time – hence I’m currently looking for a system that lets me check out my friends blogs from a single interface.

Read moreThis Month in My Life

The scary truth about Google’s Chrome Propaganda

If you’ve recently passed through Oxford Circus Station, you will have noticed only ONE advert on all billboards at the platform: Google Chrome, and how you desperately need it in your life. In fact, this ad is currently plastered all over the UK, and one must ask the all too obvious question:

Why advertise for a FREE product that won’t make any money?

Read moreThe scary truth about Google’s Chrome Propaganda

That Friday Feeling

OK let’s see here, what’s going on in my life right now:

  • Broadcast Magazine are threatening legal action against me over my non-profit project Broadcast News
  • Speaking of which, ever since they called me last Friday the site keeps crashing twice a day
  • My Betacam SP machine got damaged on its way from London to Florida, needless to say my client is less than happy and demands a full refund
  • The penultimate Premier League Day is lurking on the horizon tomorrow
  • I’ve not done ANY Christmas shopping, nor am I anywhere near “that Christmas spirit” I keep hearing so much about
  • And the days keep getting shorter for another 3 whole weeks

Impressive indeed that I’m not completely depressed in a pub by now, and in fact find the energy to devise a new project (HARRY – my new Xtranormal animation series). I even work 4 days a week on top of all that!

Read moreThat Friday Feeling

Suffering from The Weekend Blues

I’ve been working 4 out of 5 weekends since the start of the Premier League Season, and beginning to feel what it does to my life: no time for my relationship, no time for my website projects, little time for photography, and I resent the same old problems every time I do a shift. This in turn makes me bitter and sarcastic, and the way I talk to my colleagues is beginning to cross the line.

This is not my employer’s fault of course, I have only myself to blame for agreeing to so much work. It’s the old Freelancer’s Attitude of “take it while it’s there” – but I really feel I need a break from it all. Even though the work we do over 24 solid hours at The Football Factory every weekend is quite exciting at times, I feel I need to do less of a good thing.

Read moreSuffering from The Weekend Blues

I was on TV the other day…

I few momths ago I did some vox pops for BBC 3’s new show “Don’t Get Screwed”. I had completely forgotten about this, had it not been for several colleagues who spotted me. Looks like my TV career is finally taking off… is it time to get an agent yet?! 😉