Category Archives: Featured Site

giffgaff.com not quite a better deal and misleading.

giffgaff – the mobile network run by you”, according to their website. It’s a great concept whereby you can earn cash when you  bring others to giffgaff. The idea is appealing especially if you own an unlocked mobile phone and don’t want to be tied to a contract and/or use more data/texts than actual mobile calls. They offer some cool packages which are very visible on their website under the name “goodybags“. (see below – images from the giffgaff.com website).

So naturally this is something that I would consider, as I am “more” a data/text user than a phone caller.

So I signed up for the FREE sim. The sim card arrived in a timely fashion in the post in a very simple piece of paper folded in a way to look like an envelope as to not waste paper. (very green indeed, very clever). Once unfolded there was a small credit card size piece of plastic holding the sim card. It was wrapped in a cardboard sheath that showed off their logo and tag-line on the front and on the back the same price schemes for the different goodybags. So far so good.

I went to the giffgaff.com website and clicked on the Activate SIM button and was prompted for sim card code and various personal details and then it showed the following screen, which has intrigued me since this is the FIRST TIME that it tells you what you can do:

1) What would you like to buy? (I want to buy a giffgaff £10 goodybag).

  • Buy credit (why would I want to do that if the £10 goodybag already contains 100 minutes)?
    or
  • Buy credit & goodybag (I don’t want credit when the £10 goodybag already contains credit for 100 minutes).

Which brings me back to my subject that giffgaff is misleading us. No where on the site does it say you have to purchase credit before you take on a goodybag.

Even “This bit’s important…” doesn’t state that clearly enough.

edited 07/06/2010: After some clarification in my comment area from other people, I am happy to strike out the paragraph below because I have misunderstood giffgaff on what they are offering and giffgaff themselves have confirmed the clarity of the process is not very clear and will make the necessary changes to resolve this.

In a nutshell I could have purchased “credit only”, e.g. £10 and with that money purchase a £10 goodybag. If I managed to use the 100 minutes up then I would have to top up by buying more credit.

Activating with a goodybag would make more sense as there are less processes to follow. Let us wait and see if giffgaff make the process clearer.

The whole concept is a good deal if you have “only the goodybag” as shown on their website and on the packaging of the SIM card, but a rip off if one has to add “a top-up” ON TOP of the goodybag. I say “rip off” because the only saving grace between the package I am on now and giffgaff is the fact that I am tied into a contract for a year, other than that my current package with T-Mobile gives me 500 minutes, 600 text and unlimited Internet (1GB limit as per acceptable use policy) and all for £15/month with the option to bolt on extras per month, which is a better deal than giffgaff are offering.

edited 07/06/2010: I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Perhaps I have totally misunderstood giffgaff. I have posted a similar question on twitter to @giffgaff and you are welcome to comment on my post or in twitter: @lookatbowen

note: screenshots were taken using my own screen grabbing software from the giffgaff.com website and are used as reference purposes only.

An awesome South Africa soccer world cup 2010 calendar.

Have you seen the flash based South Africa world cup 2010 calendar doing the rounds at the moment?

For the football fanatic it is a dream come true as you can see every possibility in one simple and quick location. Just move your mouse over the different links and you can schedules for each games, cities and stadiums where the games will be played, the national teams and all the games they will be playing, the groups and stages. Look a little closer and you will see arrows on each of the sectors and if you click on these it will give even more information.  A very clever, well thought out website. Most likely going to be very popular over the world cup.

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.

Continue reading Bowen uses Netvibes Wasabi edition.

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!

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.

Mahalo – Human-Powered Search Engine.

I stumbled upon Mahalo.com this evening, and what a refreshing search engine it is? It has a very modern Web 2.0 feel about it. It kind of draws you in and I found myself spending almost an hour clicking through the various links etc. It’s a breath of fresh air and so different to Google’s dull looking result page. It’s funny how we take things for granted.

I did a search for Cat Allergy and got a guide, a disclaimer and some fast facts and even the top seven links, articles, and campaigns. Impressive to say the least.

"Cat Allergy" are  the words I searched and here is result page. (why not click the link and see what I mean).