Sunday, December 24, 2006

Intelligent Radio

Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but some of the English language radio stations here on the Costa del Sol are a little bit "Up with the Partridge", if you know what I mean.

The advent of mp3 files and gizmos like the ipod, should mean however that we need no longer be told what to listen to by blokes who look, and talk, like our Dads and have an unhealthy obsession with Shania Twain.

No - free yourselves. Here is Millsbomb's Christmas Present to you all: intelligent radio at

What is it? Its a group of music and technology types who have spent the last 6 years like true geeks, analysing thousands of songs and artists:

Over the past 6 years, we've carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists - ranging from popular to obscure - and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as we endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world.

"To what end?", you may ask. Well for example I can create a radio station, and tell them I like U2 for instance. They will then build me a collection of tunes based on songs that I might like given my initial preference.

From well known to obscure artists, my personal radio station becomes a musical pick and mix that I can further refine, introducing me to new sounds in the process. They also have a series of podcasts explaining musical topics such as harmonies and drumming for example.

And like all the best things on the net its free, of course. (Hint: if you sign up you need to enter a US zip code for licensing reasons - just put in anything).

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Costa del Crimeline

Crimestoppers have set up a hotline to help track down fugitives who leg it to sunny Spain. Hurray.

Read about it here:

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Spanish Property Makeover

You know those crappy TV programmes where someone's living room/garden/wife/dog gets a complete image overhaul? Yes. Well I've got a pitch for any daring producer for a similar series, but with an epic scope.

Lets do Spanish Property Makeover. I'm not just talking about some old duffers from Wigan who want to tart up a bar in Torremolinos, though. No. The target for this makeover show is the Spanish property industry as a whole. Ambitious, I hear you say.

Let's face it, if anyone was due an image boost, its the Spanish property industry. And a shiny new smile and tuck for the saggy bits isn't even close to enough. Not even an industrial strength boob job will do. I mean look at the recent criticisms levelled at our old sweetheart:

She's gotten ugly - take a look at Marina d'Or, a new monster development on the Spanish coast. Comparisons with the worst of the former Soviet bloc are harsh but fair.

She steals all our money - its not just Marbella, it seems as though every local authority has some type of building scandal on its doorstep. Backhanders, illegal developments, demolitions, corrupt agents/lawyers, need I go on?

We don't love her anymore - this article lists tells us why many Brits are turning their back on their former love. Corruption, rowdiness, crime and neglect are the main reasons. Not attractive qualities in any relationship, let alone one that started as a holiday romance.

She's got competition - all of a sudden our heads are being turned by younger, more attractive markets, full of vigour and promise. Morocco, Turkey and phwoarrh! Brazil, to name but a few.

Even the neighbours are talking - its rare that the USA looks outside its borders for news (unless they are invading you), but here's the Washington Post with a thing or two to say. The choicest quote relates to Russia's Vladimir Putin, that paragon of virtue:

At a dinner with European leaders in October, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to a question about human rights by snapping back that Spain, with its "corruption," had nothing to teach Russia.

I mean come on. If Mr "How much Polonium do you like on your Sushi?" can feel superior something is wrong.

So come on Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen, or Trinny, or Susannah, or even that one from the garden show with no bra - give our girl the makeover that she so desperately needs. And make us all fancy her again. Please.


Zudeo, is that the name of a Phil Collins' song?

No its the jazzy new high def (isn't everything now) file sharing application from the people who made bit torrent possible.

You had me at bit torrent. What's that again, exactly?

They enable you to download large files such as videos, films, tv shows and teasers etc. from the net. Imagine Youtube on steroids.

Just go to and get the app then browse and download high quality vids.

BBC content is soon to be published online using zudeo. Oh, and its also probably quite good for downloading porn.

No jacket required.

Chinese Whispers

A source tells me that Viva Estates are planning to return to 5% listing and their previous staff commission structure.

Plus several Viva staff were spotted at OPP live - sourcing new projects outside of Spain perhaps?

Viva la revolucion!

Millsbomb's Gongs

Its that time of year when all I see on TV are those 2006 review or awards shows.

And I really like them.

A bit like those list programs on Channel 4 ("The top 100 left handed comedians" etc..)

Love 'em.

So anyway allow me to inaugurate (look it up) Millsbomb's Gongs - random awards for stuff I liked on the web in 2006.

Best Spanish portal/information site: through nothing other than sheer weight of content. Kudos too to for inventive marketing hooks, like their free SMS service and film & DVD guide.

Best looking Spanish property website: - despite their ups and downs this year Viva still have the best branding and look by far. And not just with their website. They are still the daddies when it comes to brand.

Most useful Spanish property website: - Martin Dell is almost religious about functionality when you talk to him, and it shows in his site. Redesigned this year with a snappy new web 2.0 look, the site remains the most comprehensive snapshot of the resales market here in Spain.

Best worldwide site: - their focus is worldwide emerging markets, but unlike many of their competitors they mangage their wealth of content well. Plus applause for their Internet Marketing, which sees them top 10 for many juicy terms.

Best newcomer: - Launched earlier this year, the site has a professional, broadcast feel of quality about it, plus they floated my boat with their use of podcasts. Honorable mention: offers a fairly juicy number of podcasts here.

Best forum site: - Run by journalist, Mark Stucklin, the focus can be on the more negative aspects, but the community feel is strong with sound advice. Honorable mention: - readable blog, with some neat video presentations.

***Not property related:

Best SEO/Internet Marketing site: - Amid the myriad of SEO sites out there this one has least noise, most news.

Most fun to waste time on site: - Addictive games for when you just can't be arsed with work. Seen me through many a bored hour.

What do you think? Found a site you think should be on this list? Add a comment and let me know.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Its Friday!

Hey its Friday, so here's some Internet tat:

  • Fantastic pictures of a sandstorm in the Iraqi desert
  • Just finished the Christmas edition of the Hiperprop Newsletter
  • Where's Wally (well, Where's Waldo, its American)
  • Great Free Web Games at
  • "55 Million blogs, some of them have to be good" - find a good blog to read at Technorati

    (incidentally if you are a bit of an avid blog reader, try using Google Reader to help you keep track of your faves).


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Armchair Speculator

Think you have what it takes to be a property tycoon? Well see if you have the skills to pay the bills with this property speculator game, Mansion Impossible.

Its addictive.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Doom and Gloom for 2007?

How is the Spanish property market going to fare in 2007? Two apparently contrasting views dropped in my inbox this morning:

Mark Stucklin (Sunday Times journo) forsees a bumpy landing for 2007:

It's no secret that demand is down, and you don't have to be a Nobel prize
winning economist to work out that increasing supply now is unhelpful, to put it
mildly. I expect a market shakeout in 2007 (already underway in some places),
and some bitter medicine for all the corruption and speculation that has
blighted the market.

Martin Dell (owner of finds a slightly more positive spin in an article in his newsletter:

The 2 Million Club
2 million Britons own property abroad. 500,000 own
property in Spain. Over 150,000 Brits purchased second homes overseas in 2005.
100,000 are planning to move abroad within the next 6 months. Britons invested
£12 billion in Spanish property in 2004/05. This is predicted to reach £21
billion by 2009. 75,000 properties were purchased, at an average price of
£160,000, and one in three want to retire to Spain.

To be fair both outlooks are valid. Spain maintains its attraction for a large chunk of the UK population, as Martin's stats (and the new terminal at Malaga) testify. And whilst we will no doubt see some Darwinian style "natural selection" in the real estate agent pond next year, Mark concedes that the medium to long term future for the market is still pretty much undimmed.

Anyway, get educated and read some good quality newsletters: News News

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fishwives! Yet more idle gossip

FishwivesAnother rumour, another big Spanish real estate company. Apparently staff are not getting paid and offices seem to be shrinking.

If true, this would be the third of the bigger companies to experience difficulties. Interealty went tits up last year and Viva's recent dramatic policy shift was, presumably, brought about by a lack of coins in the piggy bank.

The market in Southern Spain has undoubtedly slowed significantly, and large companies have large overheads, so its not surprising if we see a degree of "rationalization". In my opinion ( for what its worth), companies that have done OK during this downturn, appear to belong to one or more of three types:

  • those that have stayed focused on their core market, refused the temptation to expand and kept overheads low.
  • those that have, conversely, embraced emerging markets (although watch out for a glut of resales in the near future).
  • those that have understood and exploited new media, ie the internet, where the cost per lead can still be incredibly low compared to traditional media, exhibitions and the like.
Invariably smaller firms find it easier to be flexible and adapt to changes in direction, plus any downsizing is fairly low profile and does not generally attract much comment. So take these observations as anecdotal, and remember that these are just my opinions.

13 things that do not make sense

I love lists like this!

13 things that do not make sense (from New Scientist)

McCarthy: relocating to UK

My colleague sends me this quote from OPP regarding Chris McCarthy's decision to step down:

Viva Estates, Chris McCarthy

Chris McCarthy, managing director of Viva Estates is to take a board position at Viva Estates while Richard Jackson will assume responsibilities as Chairman and Managing Director.

Stepping back from day to day management of the company he part owns, McCarthy explained the reasons for his departure in a communiqué to all VIVA staff on 27th November. Commenting on his decision Chris said: “Both the company and its management have developed during my eight years as MD and Viva is now extremely well placed to carry through the next expansion phase. As a major shareholder I remain hugely committed to the company and will make any effort that is required from me to assist Richard. Now is the right time for me to step back, take a seat in the boardroom, enable a smooth transition and enjoy 2007 for what the coast has to offer”.

Elaborating on plans to move to the UK in mid 2008 with his wife Mandy, McCarthy told the OPP that he planned to find more time to enjoy his last year on the coast after 20 years of non stop work. “It is true to say that I have been working non stop for 20 years and in the past 2 years have only had 3 weeks holiday, so this is my time to take some time off and enjoy playing golf and having a nice time here on the coast, where we will keep our home but from where we intend to spend more time next year in the UK because of our kids GCSEs and the like.”

He confirmed that he had not left the company, but had passed the reins over to his partner while staying on the board. Richard Jackson said: “Both as a friend and a business colleague I have tremendous respect for the way that Chris has selflessly led the company and developed our business to where it is today. We all owe Chris a huge debt of gratitude and I am delighted we will be able to call on his experience in the boardroom.”

What is interesting, is that no-one is mentioning the 2/3% policy. If they are keeping it why not reaffirm this? Anyway good luck to Chris McCarthy, he has definitely earned a holiday!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Search Engine Land - a shiny new site/blog from the guy who set up, Danny Sullivan.

Who he? Danny gave a keynote speech at Pubcon Vegas, and has been involved in search for years. Until a recent spat with the owners, he ran both and the highly successful SES series of conferences.

It seems as though Danny has pulled with him a decent number of the contributors from SEW, so expect a good read. For you keen SEO groupies, Danny also has a regular podcast at