Category Archives: Featured Site

Five amazing websites from Lookatbowen.com

Sadly this will be the last weekly top 5 list until Twenty10 as we are on holiday as of Wednesday evening. This weeks website theme is photo, painting and flashy websites.

FocalPop – It’s simple. Photo seekers tell us what they want. Photographers show us their best shots. Seekers buy the photo they like best. – A really clever idea.


PetaPixel – is a blog about photography geared towards tech-savvy digital photographers. Our goal is inform, educate, and inspire in all things related to photography.

Peter Bowen –  is an accomplished graphic designer and professional watercolour artist. His unique style of painting architectural subjects with humorous situations has earned him an international reputation during the last 25 years with much of his work in private collections in Canada, the United States and Great Britain.

I stumbled upon this site by chance after Kerry Wright of wrightaboutnow.com asked me a question about a painting. It wasn’t one of Peter’s, but I am glad I found his site. It’s been extremely interesting reading his posts and seeing his paintings. Having lived in England and travelled the country and visited the sights, Peter captures the true essence of the English coast, towns and villages.

No, he is not my brother (although has the same name, and strangely has visited the same places where my brother was stationed when he worked for Cable & Wireless. His ship was birthed in the harbour in Portland). He and I actually visited this very lighthouse on one very miserable cold windy day.

Andrew Zuckerman: Bird – For a flash site, this bird website is one of the best I’ve seen. I can only say go and visit it. You will not be disappointed. It’s incredible. There are even sounds for most of the birds and videos. So much detail (highly recommended).

African Fish Eagle by Andrew Zuckerman

Some other sites by Andrew Zuckerman (Wisdom, Creature, Highfalls).

Flash Thunderflash thunder – Simply a place for inspirational websites all with that extra something special – whether it be ground breaking navigation, the latest trends, great looking design, or just plain awesomeness…

Basically a very cool site listing a load of flash based websites.

Awesome websites I have stumbled upon this week!

This is probably not the best time to start something new, considering I will be going on holiday shortly, but hey! one has to start somewhere.

I do a fair bit of web surfing with the stumbleupon toolbar and often find awesome websites, which I bookmark in http://delicious/lookatbowen or add to my Google bookmarks or add the websites RSS feed to my Netvibes page and follow the news and updates from there. I did a post recently on Netvibes – check it out!

Anyway, I am going to put my top 5 websites in a post every week now against the category ‘Awihsutw!’ which stands for ‘Awesome websites I have stumbled upon this week!’ <original category hey!>

Here are this weeks top 5:

  1. Veryicon.com – I’ve been looking for PNG icons for a custom google map I am working on and this site has the most amazing collection of icons. There are thousands of icons to choose. You would be hard pressed not to find the icon you are looking for!
  1. One guy, three girls – is about a guy called Jason who is an IT project manager by day, a husband and father of 2 girls by night, and a wannabe violin soloist and photographer in between.   His home is in the friendly city of Perth in Western Australia.  His blog contains little stories about his life – living with 3 females, going out, travel, my hobbies like making music on the violin, photography, swing dancing.
  2. Momentary Awe – is a photography blog – This guy has the most amazing photographs. Below is an example of what I am talking about.
  3. eHow | How To Do Just About Anything – as the name suggests there are tons of posts, articles, video, text solutions on just about anything. For example if you have a Mac and want to know how to RAR a file just click the link and it will tell you. In this day and age there is no excuse to not knowing how to do something.
  4. Dumb Little Man – Tips for life – because everyone needs a litte advice from time to time. The site often does a top 5 or top 10 list. It’s aimed at all walks of life and I often send a list around the office. Here are some examples from their site:
    1. Twelve Surprising Uses for Vicks VapoRub
    2. How to Discover Your Life’s Purpose – 7 Questions to Ask
    3. Six Ways to Find Quiet During a Busy Day
    4. 8 Ways to Keep in Shape After You Get Married
    5. Ditch Productivity For A Day: 12 Great Sites To Kill Time & Have Fun

Bowen uses Netvibes Wasabi edition.

netvibes-wasabi-editionThere are a lot of tools or web applications that can make your life easier online and the one I find most useful is NETVIBES.

It is a personal web portal containing a mulitude of options (RSS/Atom feed reader, local weather forecasts, a calendar supporting iCal, bookmarks, notes, to-do lists, multiple searches, support for POP3, IMAP4 email as well as several webmail providers including Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and AOL Mail, Box.net web storage, Delicious, Meebo, Flickr photos, podcast support with a built in audio player, and several others).

I don’t use all of the above options, but I do use Netvibes as my RSS reader, which allows me to scan and view hundreds of website at one time.

Recently Netvibes invited me try out their new Beta version called Wasabi. It introduces a new streamlined look that includes a mosaic view, a list view and the old tabbed view. It is a lot faster as well.

Old Tab View: This is what it looked like before the change.

Old Tab View (with newpaper style news or quick summary).


New All Feed View: This is really clever as it shows you the latest news across all websites.

New Expanded View – Here one can effectively load the website within Netvibes.

New Mosaic View: When you click on a mosaic it opens up in expanded view or a mini website within Netvibes.


Each mosaic has tiny mouse-over options on it. If you look at the 3rd mosaic below (with my mouse hand) you can see a forward pointing arrow (clicking on it will allow one to share the article), the clock means (Mark as ‘Read Later’), the double arrow if clicked on (Opens the website in a new tab or browser window) and the square if clicked on marks the mosaic as read. Once ‘read’ or ‘marked as read’ the mosaic turn semi-transparent like the fourth mosaic.


Hovering your mouse over the mosaic reveals the full heading:

Adding a feed is childs play, one reallysimple clicks on the Green Add Content button at the top left hand corner of the page and a screen opens up with various choices. Netvibes recommends feeds for you or one can define your own feed. Most good websites, blogs, news sites, photo sharing sites have RSS feeds, simply type in the address of the website in the space and Netvibes will tell you if one exists or not.

or add a feed by browsing the various categories on offer:

You can see more screenshots of my Netvibes in my gallery.

I just happened to twit about this very topic and guess who replied to me with thanks?

Netvibes-CEO
Netvibes-CEO saying thanks
Netvibes-Twitter


Google Wave is difficult to understand.

Google Wave GuideSo like the few tens of thousand people who have tried Google Wave, I am struggling to see what benefit it will have for me in the immediate future?

I am keen to give it a try out and to find out more about it, so I did a few searches online and stumbledupon this guide called “The complete guide to Google Wave” <how original?> by Gina Trapani & Adam Pash. The application isn’t even available to the masses yet and someone has gone and written a guide book on it and a PDF which is selling for $6’s. <nice & good luck to them>

Google Wave is a new web-based collaboration tool that’s notoriously difficult to understand. This guide will help. Here you’ll learn how to use Google Wave to get things done with your group. Because Wave is such a new product that’s evolving quickly, this guidebook is a work in progress that will update in concert with Wave as it grows and changes.

Those words coming from the two editors of the website. If it’s so bloody difficult to understand why do they think people are going to want to use it, let alone part with 6 bucks to learn something that is difficult [superemotions file=”icon_question.gif” title=”Question Mark”] (perhaps the very reason why I want to learn about it because it’s difficult and querky).

Anyway, it’s a very good read if you are struggling to see what Google Wave can do, and it has certainly helped me better understand it. Whether I will use it like it’s intended purpose, only time will tell.

Then I discovered that Gina Trapani is the editor of one of my all time favorite websites called Lifehackers.com. So, not some fly by the night author. Gina certainly knows what she is talking about!

10

So come on friends and family, let me know if you want an invitation. I have 10 invites left (9 if Jeff sends me his email address). As mentioned in the previous post, family and friends first and if there are no takers, then I will offer them to the world.

Bowen is Google Waving to family and friends.

I have 16 invites to Google Wave on offer to family and friends. Please let me know (via email, facebook, skype, msn, twitter, txt) if you would like an invite. If you do not know what Google Wave is, then click on the link or images for an explanation!

If you don’t know me or don’t have my email address, then quite simply don’t waste your time posting a comment saying you want a Google Wave from me.

google wave invites

Play.com – competitive prices, awesome service.

I’ve been supporting Play.com for quite a while because their prices are very competitive, often the best online and their service is second to none and even more so when things go wrong.

One such example happened recently after I purchased a pair of Nokia Bluetooth headphones (BH-905) from them. The headphones arrived in a timely fashion and I listened to them a couple of times but noticed a problem. I contacted Play.com on the third day by phone and explained the problem and the support guy was very helpful and said “not to worry” and explained what I needed to do to return the goods back to them. I followed all the instructions and sent them back via special delivery.

A day or two later I received an email from them which told me my postage had been reimbursed. That was a nice touch. A few days later I had my second pair of headphones and they have been working perfectly ever since.

Related Links:

TFL vs Jonathan MacDonald and his video camera!

I just finished reading this shocking story of an elderly man who had his arm caught in a closing door on the tube at Holborn tube station. The shocking part is not the fact that his arm was trapped, but the subsequent abuse he got from a Transport For London employee working on the platform at the time.

Part of the incident was caught on video, and the first half of what happened is written below and are the words of  Johnathan MacDonald.

Watch the video when you are done!

Today, just after 230pm, I saw an elderly man with his arm trapped in the closing door of a faulty train at Holborn Station.

We all thought the train was heading further east but actually, for reasons we shall never know, the train was terminating at Holborn and we were ushered out onto the platform by two (shouting) staff in Underground uniforms.

The elderly man was slow to get off in the mad rush, hence the entrapment.

A few people around called to staff to open the door again so he could be released.

About 30 seconds later the doors opened again and he removed his arm.

I watched as he calmly relayed his experience to the staff member (who was called Ian by the way).

Ian didn’t think it was a problem – in fact, he was furious that the guy had mentioned it at all, especially as the guy was standing close to the track.

After a while, Ian started shouting at the guy to “stand back there is a fucking train approaching”.

The elderly guy quietly questioned why Ian had to swear (as did several other passengers).

Ian literally screamed in this guys face (and I quote): “because there is a fucking train approaching and I need to make sure nobody is over the fucking yellow line”.

The elderly guy stood his ground – admittedly the wrong side of the yellow line (which was hard to see as there were hundreds of stranded people on the platform).

Ian then told the guy that he wasn’t allowed to get on the next train and had to “come upstairs to speak to the police”.

That was when I pulled out my video camera.

The below clip is taken immediately after Ian’s initial outburst and you can hear him repeat the police part too.

All seems fine until the incoming train arrives and the elderly guy tries to get on it – although watch how twitchy Ian is during the train arrival..

You will hear Ian telling him not to get on and then threatening a halted service until he gets off again.

Listen to what Ian says. Watch the reaction of the other passengers.

But then – right at the end of the clip (at exactly 50 seconds), you will hear Ian exclaim (again, I quote): “sling him under a train”.

I’m not sure this is cool. I felt compelled to blog it.

This TFL person (Ian) has been suspended however how many other horrible employees are working on such platforms around the city?

Finally Jonathan MacDonald did an extremely clever thing afterwards! He made a complaint on the TFL website and listed his blog of the ordeal in the complaint box (Genius) and he told the PRESS, and there is nothing like a good story that so often would be swept under the carpet and never given the time or day.

Hats off to Jonathan!

Google Fast Flip.

Google seem to have a knack of producing software or tools that are so very useful, and Fast Flip is yet another web application that works really well. Google describe it as follows:

Google Fast Flip lets users discover and share news articles. It combines qualities of print and the Web, with the ability to “flip” through pages online as quickly as flipping through a magazine. It also enables users to follow friends and topics, discover new content and create their own custom magazines around searches.

Google Fast Flip

How does it work?
Google capture images of the articles on their partners’ websites and then display them in an easy-to-read way. The stories are grouped by categories, such as Entertainment, Business, Opinion, Politics and Most Viewed. Readers can flip through stories quickly by simply pressing the left- and right-arrow keys until they find one that catches their interest. Clicking on the story takes them directly to the publisher’s website.

How are the Topics selected? Can I choose my own?
The Topics are generated automatically by rising stories in the news. Users can also search for any subjects they want and basically create their own topics, almost like a custom magazine, on the fly.

How are stories recommended in the Recommended section?
The stories in this section are recommended by users of Google Fast Flip in direct and indirect ways. We take cues from how often they read stories, e-mail stories and register a public vote for stories by clicking on the “Like” button on each article.

Can I recommend stories that I like to other people?
Google Fast Flip allows readers to vote on an article to tell the world they liked it. Clicking on the “Like” button on a story page lodges a public vote for that story, which is one of the factors in whether Fast Flip includes stories the “Recommended” section. At the bottom of the home page, Fast Flip users who are signed in to their Google Account can see which stories friends in their Gmail contact list have “liked.”

Source: Google Fast Flip

searchmeUp until recently there was a very similar web application called searchme:, but unfortunately they were seeking over $100 million dollars to stay afloat.  CEO Randy Adams knew when they started the company that to compete with the likes of Microsoft, Google and Yahoo, it was going to take at least $100 million, half to build the back end across thousands of servers and half to get distribution (maybe more with Microsoft spending $100 million on Bing advertising alone). What they didn’t plan on was the terrible downturn in the economy which made it impossible to raise another $50 million to get distribution (mainly through toolbar deals). So they were fucked by ED!

Insurance – we recommend Keith Simister.

Keith Simister Personal Insurance Services

Insurance, it’s one of those hard to justify services one pays for life. If you are lucky or unlucky enough you may never have to make a claim. Normally making a claim means something bad has happened (your car got smashed by some idiot or your house was broken into or some kids threw a stone through your front window or worse case scenario your partner decides to die on you). Someday it will all be worthwhile but I suppose in the short term you just hand over your money to the insurance company and hope you are covered.

Over the past 9 years that we have been living in the UK we have done all our household, home and car insurance through Keith Simister. They are an independent Intermediary as their logo suggests and basically what that means for us, is that they have given us sound advice and good insurance policies over the years. They are based in Manchester, which is kind of strange considering we have lived in London and surrounding areas, and not gone with a local insurance broker, but we have noticed that you get a better service outside of London. This was true for our first mortgage, which we got through a company in Newcastle, our solicitors were from Leeds, and this is certainly true for our insurance.

We like Keith Simister because one can phone him up and have a chat.  He is not your average Joe in the park, who is just out to take your money and you never hear from him again. He is friendly and always looking out for a good deal for us. We get the usual paperwork on time and it’s clearly marked out and we know exactly what is going on.

Which is why I am blogging about Keith Simister.

If you are looking for insurance in commercial vehicles, private cars, household, commercial business, liabilities, indemnities, shops, offices, hotels & nursing homes at a good price with a trustworthy company, then give Keith Simister a call on Tel: 0161 724 6723 or drop them an email: ksimister@ksimister.co.uk or visit their website www.simister.co.uk

We  give them a high recommendation. :-)

Get Flocked.

I stumbled upon a new web browser (as if there aren’t enough of them already). It’s called Flock browser and is based on the Mozilla browser. It quite unique in that it pulls all of your favorite people, places and content together into a convenient view and delivers a more personal experience of the web.

I will give it a go for a couple of days and see how I get on with it. I am not really into all the social websites (Facebook, Flickr, Youtube etc), but it has a Mozilla feel to it, so worth a try out!

Flock Features

Flock Features

Catoon Caricatures by Singapore Artists.

I stumbled upon a really cool website called Cartoons Caricatures and as the name implies it’s a site about cartoons drawn by various Singapore artists.

It is a WordPress blog and their latest cartoons have a F1 theme, which is fitting since they are hosting the first ever F1 night race this weekend. Take a look. The whole site is really cool. A lot of talent for sure.

Excellent Service from Bluehost.com

I had a wee problem with my gallery recently which is embedded in my wordpress website using the WPG2 plugin. It’s quite a huge gallery with over 3500 photos. After a recent upgrade I noticed I was getting blank pages in my gallery whenever one clicked through the albums or clicked on the thumbnail in the sidebar. I’ve tried fixing the problem by adding various lines to my .htacess file in the root of my website, but nothing has helped…. until this morning that is, when I contacted the ‘one to one’ help line at Bluehost.com

I explained the problem and in no time at all the technician had made some changes and my gallery is working like it should be. It’s a lot quicker than it was and it looks really good (if I have to say so myself). I’ve been with Bluehost.com for a couple of years now, and it’s because their service and support is fantastic.