Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why I love Google #496

A significant proportion of geeks like to knock the big boys like Google and Microsoft as evil, faceless, corporate giants who are only interested in taking over the world through invidious, creeping technologies.

For example its hard now to go on the web and not use a Google product. Their latest version of the very convenient toolbar offers a great new feature for dopey web designers like me. If a user cannot access a page on your website, the causes of which can vary widely, the toolbar throws up a helpful menu page giving you options rather than the usual 404 error page. Clever. Helpful.


Just another example of Google's engineers producing something that is so convenient it will start to become another everyday part of the web. The road to world domination is not evil genius, but ingenious design.

Google explain it in full on their blog.

Etch a Sketch


Nostalgia time! Remember the frustration this thing used to cause?

I think I eventually smashed mine open to see what the "magic" was all about.

Anyway for those of you who want to relive that annoying 2D world: http://www.etchy.org/

Or if you want to see a pro at work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYM__s3R5q0

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Viva Estates Closes?

A pre-Christmas flurry of real estate office closures appears to have taken place on the Costa del Sol with the most high profile fall being that of Viva Estates. The once ubiquitous agent has now apparently closed all its offices apart from its large Expo hall.

Perhaps Viva in some sleeker, lightweight new clothes, will make a re-appearance in the near future? Dynamic management and a cracking website count in their favour if nothing else.

Also rumoured to have closed large offices are Andalucian Dream Homes and high-end Marbella agent Kristina Szeckley.

Efficient rationalisation or death rattle?

Either way a large number of sales staff are now knocking on the doors of Wemploy and co. Not the best start to the festive season.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Lists

I think I mentioned previously that I'm a fan of those list shows you see on Channel 4. Here, an American chap raves on about why he likes lists, and why we all should.



My favourite quote?

"If William Shakespeare used PowerPoint, he could have saved a lotta time."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Spotify - getting you through the day

3 interesting things to tell you about today.

  • Spotify - by far the best thing I have discovered in ages. I say discovered, but actually a friend told me about it (hat tip to John Broad). What is it then? Ermm, like Itunes, but free. Its a vast repository of online music you can listen to free, on demand, anytime. The interface is stylish and intuitive (very apple). The only drawbacks? Well you cannot download the tune for consumption elsewhere MP3/CD etc, and the system is in BETA and is only accepting a limited number of users at the moment. But sign up (or badger someone for an invite) and buy some good speakers for your PC.
  • Strange American lady says whatever you want her to. Am I wrong to find this slightly arousing?
  • The most addictive game. Ever. I mean ever. Beat my highscore of 31.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The times they are a-changing

Hello, blog. Like an inattentive, philandering husband, I have ignored you, but now I return to the fold. So much to tell, so much to share.

Some news

I am changing my work situation shortly (going solo), and am hoping to devote a little more time to this site as well as a few others, inbetween becoming a full time sex tourist. I'm also hoping to rant about the Spanish property market, put up some more tat I find on the net and generally vent my spleen.

Bear with me (plus I've got some great photos)...

Millsbomb

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Spanish Property Weather Report


More doom and gloom if you are an estate agent on the Costa del Sol. Half of those who set up in the last 4 years are reportedly struggling to keep their doors open.

Whilst some agents are going under or finding new jobs, some are "re-structuring". Large developers are reporting fairly whopping losses too.

However you dress it up the market has undergone a distinct slowdown and most agents are downsizing or cost-cutting in one way or another.

Some would argue that there are fewer buyers than previous years. What there definitely is, everyone will agree, is a surplus of (often overpriced) product. And a surplus of agents trying to sell it. With fewer transactions there will inevitably be fewer agents in the near future.

So where's the good news?

Well if you're a buyer, then brilliant. You can expect agents to be tripping over themselves to welcome you into their shops. Hungry agents will nearly always cut their commissions with a bit of gentle nudging. Plus a good proportion of vendors will be desperate to sell, and will often accept significant drops in price.

Battery Shocker!

Can you believe that some batteries are made up of... guess what... other smaller batteries?

No neither could I. Whilst I suppose it sort of makes sense, its sort of a cheat, isn't it? Also as the geek in this video points out the smaller batteries retail for way more than the cost of the larger containing battery.



12 Volt Battery Hack! You'll Be Surprised... - video powered by Metacafe


Ahh, I can still remember licking the top of a 9V battery (having been dared to do so) and shrieking in surprise.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Google Sky, Google Beer

Does Google own everything?

I search the web using Google Search. I send my emails using Google Mail. I track stats on my website using Google Analytics. I get traffic to my sites using Google Advertising. I read blogs and other news using Google Reader. I watch videos on YouTube (the defacto replacement for Google Video). I write this blog using Google Blogging software (blogspot). I search my computer using Google desktop.

Anyway you get the idea.

It seems as though their goal - "to organise the world's information" - is not just some naff corporate mission statement but a simple declaration of fact. Increasingly, it seems, anyone searching for information will at some point use a piece of Google kit. You can't blame them. Time after time they produce the most effective and useful tools. And for free.

I know I should feel some kind of creeping concern about Google's growing grasp on the world's information. Knowledge is, after all, power. There are legitimate criticisms of the Google juggernaut, particularly the Chinese censorship issue.

But you know what. I just don't care.

I may be short sighted saying this. But I just love the way Google do things. Their offerings consistently knock the spots off their competitors, and, again, did I mention, they are (nearly) always free, with no clutter and they just work.

They could own the heavens and I wouldn't care. As long as they organised them better than that guy with the white beard. Which brings me to (oh! seamless link, Millsy!) Google Sky. A plug in (or layer) for Google Earth which allows you to flip the view round and gaze out into the Milky Way.

In the same way that Google Earth uses clever composite imagery from planes, satellites and what not, so Google Sky uses images from Hubble et al to produce glorious views of the night sky. You'll need to download the latest version of Google Earth to enjoy this new feature, by the way.

Brilliant. Just another example of why they are trouncing other big boys like Microsoft and Yahoo. Personally I'm waiting for them to bring out Google Beer - free of course, and with no nasty hangovers. Apparently I'm not the only one dreaming of this day! C'mon Cutts.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Geek 3some


I have had my head in my PC for a while which made me realise that I haven't done much geeky posting recently. Well let's remedy that.

I long since realised that the dedicated geek can hunt down pretty much a free everything. Here are 3 top picks that have come to my attention recently:

  • Spiceworks is something I could have used in my last job. Its a 100% free (so we already like it) application aimed at network administrators. But basically anyone who has to look after more than a handful of computers in their working day will like this. Helpdesk, inventory, troubleshooting and reporting - it promises the lot. I'm quite impressed.
  • Telerik Rad Editor - now I have fallen in love with this these last few days. Its a bit specialist, in that its for programmers using Microsoft's .net platform. But my gum its clever. It is essentially a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) HTML editor that programmers can implement. That means once your geeks have set it up, your employees can write (and publish) articles and other content for your website with no more technical skill than is required to use Microsoft Word. Brilliant, even uploading pictures and files is simple. This is the sort of thing every business owner should get their in house geeks to put in place (and put the likes of me out of work in the long term).
  • Ubuntu - don't pay for Windows XP or Vista. Get Ubuntu. Its a free operating system that has recently become more mainstream (Dell are now shipping laptops with this preinstalled). I must confess this is a pet project of mine as I am halfway through setting myself up an Ubuntu machine - but it has fans like Matt Cutts amongst others. So geeks with (plenty of) spare time, impress your boss by slashing his software costs!
Anyway, geeks, enjoy those, and the rest of you, more daft videos next post.

Monday, August 13, 2007

James Blunt on Sesame Street

This is great, James Blunt has lost his favourite shape (can you guess what it is?).

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Word Power

Before you say it, I know, I've not been giving you much blog love. By way of an apology have a look at this. It's fascinating:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Human Tetris

Daft. Funny. Japanese game show turns contestants into a human Tetris game...

Acapella Version of Come On Eileen

The clue's in the title:



Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Thousand Words...

I love a good photo. 

By that I don't mean when you didn't chop granny's head off in those pics from Majorca. 

No. I mean those fantastic pictures you see in high end newspapers and magazines. The sort of pictures that stay in your memory for a little while longer than you might expect. 

Some of the best images from the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Herb Ritz and Richard Avedon are on display in this great website

It is divided into fashion, sports, journalism etc. Click on the links at the bottom to select a new category.
  

Friday, July 06, 2007

John Smeaton: One Man against Al-Quaeda

Meet John Smeaton, a baggage handler at Glasgow airport and part time superhero. John was responsible for helping subdue or "banjo" (his words) one of the terrorists following the abortive attack on Glasgow Airport.

"Come to Glasgow and we'll set about you"

Basically he kicked the guy in the nuts. Well and truly. Since then, and deservedly so, John has become something of a hero. Al-Quaeda foolishly assumed that the Scots would be a soft target. Clearly Osama has never spent a Saturday night on the piss in Glasgow.



Read more here and here about this latterday Braveheart.

Spanish Property Podcast

Mark Stucklin, he of the Sunday Times & SpanishPropertyInsight.com, writes:

The Spanish property market’s obituary may have been written prematurely, but
much of the news coming from the market is far from reassuring.


Certainly agents on the Costa del Sol have had busier times. For the best part of 10 years prices rose, buyers came and houses sold. Whilst the predicted crash has failed to materialise, times are certainly leaner, with some agents either closing their doors, focusing on rentals, or looking to overseas markets.

Darwin. Natural Selection. Survival of the fittest. The market will find some kind of balance and every other shopfront will not be an estate agents. For a more educated stab at the future of the Spanish market, listen to these three knowledgable gas bags. (Its a Podcast, buy some speakers you pikey).

Microwave Tomfoolery


Remember those 1970's safety films? They were usually about looking both ways crossing the road, not smoking in bed, and not getting into strange Ford Cortinas.


Well maybe there should be one about Microwave oven safety. For example did you know that water can superheat and 'explode' if microwaved under certain conditions?


Well step forward one brave expert who has decided to test various substances in his mum's microwave:

By the way my favourites are the Xmas lights (yes, really) and the eggs.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Addictive Games Alert

I apologise to your boss/spouse/significant other [delete as appropriate] in advance:

Wii Arcade - tons of addictive and rather cool-looking games here. Not from the Nintendo people, but all good fun. My fave? Bunker. You just kill everything.

Bloxorz - enjoyable, good looking puzzle game.

Crossword with a difference, no clues!

DrawPlay - help your little man get to the flag, by drawing his path with your mouse. It's better than it sounds, honest. And there's a funky soundtrack.

Doing it for the kids

Look at these creative young engineers/vandals.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Britain's Got Wind

Paul Potts - the opera singing mobile phone salesman who won Britain's Got Talent - is now making a splash stateside. But fortunately for them, they won't see his first attempt at impressing the judges:


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Social Events and Social Sites


Went to the wedding of a very old chum last weekend and had a great old time. Managed to lose the nice silk tie I bought at Malaga Airport, and instead found myself rushing round the local TK Max for any old nylon nasty.

Also, I still don't own a digital camera, so all the pics I took were on my mobile phone. "Mills, you pikey, buy a proper camera" etc...

Also I think I was one of the few single people there, as the smug marrieds kept pointing me towards anything with a few teeth and a pulse.

Anyhoo, my insecurities and general social faux pas aside, it was a fantastic couple of days. I received a rather nice set of stirling silver collar stiffeners (yes, really!) for being an usher.

Now, I have a phone full of pictures, whats the best way to share them? And flickr sprang to mind. Its great.

Nice suit chunks, so whats flickr then?

Its a photo sharing website, first and foremost. But its also one of those modern web 2.0 type sites where you comment, create groups and the whole social web thingy. But basically the 2 best things I have found is that:


  • You can download a widget to your pc which allows you to upload one or more pics at the click of your mouse.

  • You have a permanent online repository of all your pics. You can link to them from your blog and/or send the url to anyone you want to share the pics with.
All rather clever. I even found some fun flickr based sites such as:


  • Flickr tag browser - a funky search app that lets you search all the pics uploaded and suggests related keywords. Try finding those photos of Britney without her knickers on for example.

  • flickrvision - a semi voyeuristic worlwide insight into what people are uploading real time.
Have fun, but really, I don't want to see any pictures of your cats.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Go on Safari

Hey... I am writing this post using Safari.

What's that then fatty?

Well, Safari is a browser (like Internet Explorer and Firefox) but has only been available to Mac owners. Up until now that is. It is made by the Apple people and they have just made it available for Windows users for the first time.

What piqued my curiosity was their bold claim that Safari renders HTML and javascript way faster than the more popular browsers. "Blazing Performance" their website claims:
The fastest web browser on any platform, Safari loads pages up to 2 times faster
than Internet Explorer 7 and up to 1.6 times faster than Firefox 2.

So, you're saying I can download my naughty websites even faster?

Hmmm, they say that, but I am yet to be convinced. Whilst I like how it makes web pages look, I am not sure that it renders them any faster. Anyway, have a go yourself - it looks quite funky (like most Apple stuff).

http://www.apple.com/safari/

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Manga Meets Matt Groening

Ever imagined the Simpsons and Futurama as Japanese Manga cartoons? Someone has:



Oddly unsettling isn't it?

Steven Wright

No, not the BBC Radio DJ, with his Sunday Love Longs crap, but the oddly funny American comedian who says things like:

It doesn't matter what temperature the room is -- it's always room temperature.


I intend to live forever. So far, so good.


If you were going to shoot a mime, would you use a silencer?


And my favourite:

Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?


Read his musings over at http://twitter.com/stevenwright

When I'm drunk...

... I like to take photos of other people wearing my glasses - apparently:











I only realised this recently when I noticed all these specky gits on my phone camera.

Its bordering on a fetish really, isn't it? The power of alcohol. Spot which is me?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Batgirl Spotted In Valencia


Apologies, dear reader for my absence of late, but I have been on a mind bending, liver busting fortnight's holiday.

It all began with 2 good friends who came to visit and ended with a 4 day, 16 man stag-athon featuring a particularly unconvincing Batgirl. In rural Spain. The locals were suitably unimpressed.


The real joy was discovering Valencia on the second night (no comedy drag superheroes in tow this night). In between ordering 16 Jack Daniels & cokes, I realised what a cool city this is. Fantastic architecture melding with trendy cafe life, plus some superb places to eat (as well as drink). There was a thumping concert on in the bullring when we arrived, and the following day we shook off our hangovers to go and watch the World Touring Car Championships at the motor racing circuit.


Great Stuff. Anyway Millsbomb is slowly getting back to normal, so expect the usual tat shortly.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Madeleine McCann


Madeleine McCann, as you all must be aware by now, was abducted from Praia Da Luz in Portugal some 10 days ago. She will be 4 years old today.

One avenue that the authorities are investigating is that Maddie may have been taken across the Portuguese border into Spain. There has already been a widespread awareness campaign by groups of expats in various areas of Spain and Gibraltar.

You can help by posting a picture of Maddie in your local shops, bars, restaurants, wherever.
Unfortunately at the time of writing this their website appears to be flooded with requests for info, so the link is temporarily unavailable.
Update: The Liverpool Echo has a poster available for printing/emailing here.

If you think you have any information, no matter how insignificant, please call the Portuguese investigation team on +351 218 641 000.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Mother's Journey

I stumbled across this today, it is the 2007 Pulitzer photography winner. The series of photos are entitled A Mother's Journey. I don't normally post stuff like this, but I just found it utterly compelling.

http://www.sacbee.com/static/newsroom/swf/april07/mother/

Monday, May 07, 2007

Time Lapse

This is quite beautiful, its made by a chap called Ollie Larkin.

Whacky Races

The next time someone complains about the driving in Spain, show them this, its from a busy junction somewhere in India.


Friday, May 04, 2007

Helping Hands

One of the nice things that people tend to forget about the internet is that, despite it being the hugest commercial platform, it remains at heart all about communication and co-operation. Honest.

I was reminded of that these past few weeks when our server was struck by the digital equivalent of herpes. Try as I might I could not get rid of the virus, nasties kept re-appearing much to my displeasure.

This clearly put me a particularly pleasant mood all week from which my co-workers benefitted:

"Google It", "Fix your own f***ing printer", "Read what it says on the screen, you muppet" etc...

Well now you find me in lighter mood, skipping on my way to work and stopping to smell the flowers. The reason for my cheerier disposition? I managed to cure the bug on the server.

I would like you to think that I am a capabable, multi skilled IT kinda guy and that I did this on my own with just my vast intellect and good looks as my tools. But the truth is there are fantastically knowledgeable people out there in internetland who are beyond generous with their time and supremely patient with webmonkeys like me.

One such place (where I found myself begging for help) is the forum over at CastleCops.com. There I received direct help and instruction from several security experts as well as the odd experienced user. In particular I would like to say a big thank you to Negster who gave me some top advice and showed me some great new geeky tools to use, such as SecCheck.

These people love dirty machines! So if you have a security or virus problem thats driving you nuts, pay them a visit. I'm glad I did. And so are my co-workers.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Spanish Property - My Investment Strategy

Every newspaper I pick up at the moment seems to have articles with headlines like The Sun Sets On Spanish Property or Has The Bubble Burst?

Basically the media are in a frenzy over the fact that a Spanish construction company's share price has dropped by 5%. The Telegraph is predicting a collapse, then an implosion:


Britons thinking about buying property abroad were told yesterday that the
predicted collapse of the Spanish housing market would create a golden opportunity to pick up a bargain.

But there was little comfort for the many who have already bought homes in Spain. More than 250,000 properties along the Costa del Sol and the Costa Blanca are British owned.

"The housing market in Spain is about to implode," economists at Lombard Street Research warned yesterday


Read the article

Loving this language. Are we all going to be squashed?

Chill Out

For buyers like myself these scare stories are great. Vendors reduce prices, many buyers are frightened away from the market. Supply - Demand. Bargain. In theory anyway.

Whilst there is an oversupply of housing product in Southern Spain, and much of it is overpriced, the demand is still present and constant for good value, good quality housing. Yes, buyers are more picky, they have more choice! But there are still plenty of them flowing over from the UK looking for a holiday home or a place to live.

No one has bought for a quick investment return in Spain for years, the market has matured beyond that point now. Go see Morocco, Turkey or Brazil for those "buy to flip" returns. Spain is a place to buy if your investment strategy is all about enjoying long summers, cold beers and not caring much about share prices.

Etoo - Crimeshare Chameleon?

ETOO, a company with a rather chequered past in the timeshare resale business are under the spotlight again.

The Daily Mirror tracked them down operating under a new offshore setup called the International Timeshare Resale Association.


So we phoned the Association with some simple questions. Simple Question
One: Is ETOO a member of the Association?


The strangely suspicious spokesman
was more interested in finding out who was calling.



Timeshare scams are so 80's aren't they?

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Charity Begins At Someone Else's Home


Millsbomb would like to say a big thank you to Mark and Sorrell Lewis who invited me to their house last Saturday for one of the best evenings I have had since moving to the Costa del Sol.

The evening was a charity casino night in aid of Motor Neurone Disease, and was a great success. Not only did a large number of us get riotously drunk, playing roulette, blackjack and poker but Mark, Sorrell and their friends managed to raise knocking on a thousand Euros for the MND Association. Brilliant.

I particularly enjoyed getting fleeced whilst learning the rules to Texas Hold 'Em, then discovering I had won some riding lessons on a Shetland pony in the charity raffle. Now, thats a night out.

Bon Voyage

Jason Godwin tells me he is relocating to Majorca.

Jason is the man behind Infocasa - far and away the most popular and accomplished of the various real estate applications in use here in southern Spain.

Millsbomb would like to wish him well and hope that we catch up for a pint during one of his next monthly commutes.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Beating them off with a sh**ty stick

Millsbomb is a happy boy today - just taken ownership of my Fiat Fanny Magnet -


Got to go shopping for my Alan Partridge leather driving gloves...

Freaky Dragon Eyes (no, not you darling)

Optical illusion par excellence:


Games a go go

Enjoy:

http://gameburn.org/

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Modesty

Someone once wrote:

It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help


Shame no-one told Darragh.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

My virus hell (and how to avoid it)

Well I have had more fun weeks at work than this one. Our company web server was hit by a particularly nasty virus.

Again, apologies for my lack of bloggery, but frankly I was becoming a confirmed luddite by the end of yesterday, and decided our new IT strategy was going to involve slate and chalk: the new paperless office.

Lessons learnt

On the plus side it has reminded me how little attention all of us give to security on our PCs until something nasty happens. So here are my common sense steps to reducing your chance of something nasty crawling up your cable.

  • Keep your operating system up to date. For most of us this means Windows (2000, XP, or Vista). Make sure you download all the critical security updates, or even better set your updates to automatically download. This is where I fell down - I had not installed the latest service pack for our server. So bitchslap the web monkey.
  • Get some antivirus software. Mcafee, Symantec, Trend Micro all provide great solutions for a very low cost. If you don't want to shell out at all there are some very good free AV programs Make sure your AV software has some sort of real time protection as well as running a full scan every week or so.
  • Make sure you have a firewall. A firewall is a piece of software that only allows traffic to and from your PC that you have authorised. Windows has a good built in firewall -use it. There are also good (and free) firewall solutions available such as Zone Alarm.
  • Periodically check for spyware. Spyware is the stuff that creates unwanted pop ups, changes your homepage and all other manner of annoying stuff. It is important to check from time to time and remove any from your PC. Try Spybot S&D, Adaware.

At the time of writing our server is still infected, and I am still pulling my hair out - so take a tip from me - prevention is better than cure.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Marbella Belles = Oxygen Thieves

I've not been giving you a lot of blog love recently, sorry about that but my friend decided to open his own business (more on that later) and spare time has been somewhat shorter than usual.

Grovelling apology out of the way, I just had to show you this, which was dug up by Paul over in the Pebbles forums. These lot make Jade Goodie look cultured...


Friday, March 30, 2007

In Spain no-one can hear you scream

Yep its Friday, yep its tat time.


Thats all for now, I'm visiting a friend in Calahonda who has just purchased 2 barrels of beer for his outdoor bar... the fool...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spanish Airport Info

If you are an expat like me or own a place in Spain and spend more time than you would like to at or between airports, then you ought to meet Gary Ingram. He runs a great site called Spanish Airport Guide and is more helpful than your average trolley dolly.

Gary has researched all the airlines, their destinations, the cheapest car hire and transfers at pretty much every airport in Spain. He currently runs a message board where he answers any questions and posts travel tips like how to save money on flights, for example.

In fact his message board has become so popular, he is looking at turning it into a forum, so he can answer more of your questions. Isn't he good?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Some weekend tat



Is it just me or this turning into some video blog/You-tube lovefest?

What happened to the funny/interesting links and the Spanish Property info? Well here's some dopey links to waste half an hour and frankly I know f**k all about Spanish property anyway.
Millsbomb is going to the Irish Bar, La Cala for the next 48 hours. Signing off.

"C'mon Fatty"

Next time you're at La Cañada or Parque Miramar, try some urban sprinting:


Urban Sprinting - The funniest videos clips are here

Fish and Chips

Shark Eating Octopus. Wierd! (thanks Costas)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ricky Gervais on Comic Relief

For anyone who missed it here's the best bit of last week's Comic Relief-

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

IN reverts to 7.5%

The Inmo-network, the MLS that was born from the Viva/IN brouhaha, has decided to revert to listing shared properties at 7.5% (up from 5%).

Also worth noting is Viva Estate's new venture into overseas markets, planetviva.com.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Sign Language 101

I think its time we all learnt some sign language

Lesson 1:



Lesson 2:

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Spanish property market review & forecast

For anyone considering buying (or selling) in Spain, read Mark Stucklin's great report on the current state of the Spanish property market.

Comparing stats and garnering opinions he points to a buyers market where vendors need to adjust their price expectations and where a clear oversupply of product will further the current price stagnation.

No huge crash though:

Based on the Spanish government’s figures, it looks like the Spanish
property market is on course for a soft landing, in which property prices will
rise in line with general inflation.

Rather than me misquote him, read the full report here. It is well worth it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The gift that keeps on giving...

My best mate is getting married, and next week is his engagement party. Now I am the worst present buyer in the world. I once bought a (now) ex girlfriend a breadbin. You see.

So I am a crap present buyer, but fear not I think I have found the original gift idea:



Anyway it will be an interesting party.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What exactly is Web 2.0?

You may hear the term Web 2.0 bandied about by nerdy types like myself. What exactly do we mean by Web 2.0? Did I miss Web 1.0?

Rather than me waffle on watch this great video made by a professor of anthropology. It be good.


Friday, March 02, 2007

The Power of Makeup

Hello, apologies for my lack of posting this last week or so, been working on some stuff. But I saw this and thought I had to share:

Ever gone to bed with a beauty queen and woken up with a ten pinter? It might not only be the alcohol thats to blame: Marvel at The Power of Make Up

Oh and try to stop watching this, I can't:







Monday, February 26, 2007

Moneycorp open a new office in Puerto Banus

The glamour, the celebrities, the free bar...

Many thanks to Mark Lewis for the invite to his company's swanky new office opening in Puerto Banus. A good time was had by all, and I even got a bag of freebies!

Plus the girl from Absolute Magazine appears to have photoshopped out my beer belly, bless her: http://www.absolutemagazine.com/faces.php?faces=party&pos=0&p=13moneycorp_pil4239.jpg

Just so you all know, I will attend the opening of a paper bag, as long as there's free booze/gifts etc...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Yet More Friday Tat

I'm already anticipating my Friday beers, so here's some timewasters for those among you who share the Millsbomb (lack of) work ethic. Last one to the Irish Bar is buying...

Hasta Lunes!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Eye On Spain Agent & Developer Survey

Remember I mentioned a while ago that Justin over at eyeonspain.com was conducting an agent and developer survey.

Well have a look at his results, with around 700 respondants, it should make for interesting reading.

If you're a misunderstood/maligned agent have a rant over on his forum: http://www.eyeonspain.com/forums/threads.aspx?&dev=FB42

But I wouldn't expect too much in the way of sympathy...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Aifos Booby Prize

Fantastic story reported by Mark Stucklin here.

Apparently the disgraced former mayor of Marbella, Marisol Yague, had breast and bum cosmetic surgery which...

wait for it...

was paid for by dirty money from controversial developer Aifos.

Headline competition:
A free nip and tuck for the winner, a free Aifos brochure for the loser.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Spanish Property Lessons

Not going to be a huge amount of posts this week, since I managed to crash my car at the weekend and am trying to sort out insurance etc...

But this is worth a read: its a thread from a UK investment discussion site entitled Spanish Property Lessons. It is a funny read. The guy offers his advice (gained through experience) on buying in Spain.

It includes little gems like this:

When an agent in Spain mentions the phrase “off-plan” to you, look over your shoulder and spit.


Fairly polemic in tone, he has an equally low opinion of real estate agents, lawyers and the off plan property industry in general.

If you thought that the agents in the UK are un-trustworthy, then just
checkout the ones operating in CDS. There, you will find the biggest
collection of wide-boys, barrow-boys and thugs outside of Romford.


Whilst many will agree with his comments - particularly those affected by the innumerable property scandals across the Costas - it is important to remember that the vast majority of foreign buyers in Spain have a positive experience.

I, for example, don't find myself counting the silverware when my estate agent friends have been round to dinner, since, most of them are decent blokes who want to do a good job: i.e find a client the right house at the right price.

Also, I am writing this post from my lumpy settee in an off plan purchase my parents made about 4 years ago. Which (along with everyone else in the urbanisation) has made them a very nice profit, thank you very much.

I even know a decent lawyer!

So beware of those who vent their spleens, the negative emphasis serves more to alleviate their own frustration, I suspect, rather than offer the benefit of experience to others.

No, Spain is not utopia: shysters and scrotes feed on the unprepared and the ill-advised here just like anywhere else.

But at least there's 300 days' sunshine a year.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Rubbish

Hello!

Its Friday, and I'm back from a brief trip to the UK to watch a rather disappointing England lose to Spain at Old Trafford. So to cheer us up, here's some Friday tat:

Have a good weekend. I'll be in the Irish Bar, La Cala, cheering on England against Italy in the 6 Nations. Let's hope they do better than our footballers.

Friday, February 02, 2007

If you ever need a graphic designer...

Love this guy's website. Its one of the most original I have seen in ages.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

BBC Real Story: Pain in Spain

Just watched the BBC 1 programme Real Story, with a report entitled "Pain in Spain" (how do they think them up?).

It detailed some of the all too familiar horror stories that many expats seem to experience after following their dream of moving to Spain.

Illegally built homes, for example: residents on a development built near the popular town of Albox, are pulling their hair out, since - surprise, surprise - the project never had permission from the town hall. Therefore they enjoy no street lighting, no roads, no mains water and the ever present threat of demolition. Not exactly a stress free retirement.

The majority of the residents are UK expats and most used the lawyer that the developer Procoal recommended. So no conflict of interest there then.

The Beeb hack dutifully tracked down the Procoal MD at his offices for a showdown. They couldn't have been in and out faster if the office had a revolving door. A piss poor impression of Roger Cooke and an Adios later they were back on the street.

By the way Procoal are still advertising, so you have been warned!

Healthcare was also on the agenda: retired couples found that they were not entitled to coverage under the Spanish state health service until the age of 65. The rub is, that the UK will not afford them healthcare after 2 years of residency abroad. So that leaves a lot of retirees, stuck between a rock and a hard place, having to cough up for private healthcare. Ouch!

Complaints were also aired about the lack of out-patient and social care. Whilst commonplace services in the UK, Spain sees these more as responsibilities of the family. "But my sons live in Australia" complained one old guy.

Whilst I wouldn't wish the above problems on my worst enemy (OK, maybe my worst enemy) - I am constantly astounded by the incredible lack of judgement people show when making some of the most profound, expensive and life changing decisions.

Where is the healthy dose of skepticism Brits usually reserve for any slick suited salesman?

Where is the fastidious research that normally precedes a weekend in Filey, let alone a lifetime in a foreign clime?

Good sense appears to be wined, dined then royally shafted by an unoriginal mix of naivety and seductive marketing.

I hope this programme (along with the endless similar press stories) shakes those contemplating a move abroad out of their reverie, and forces them to really do their homework.

But then what do I know? I landed here with about 25 quid and wide eyed optimism. So shut up Millsbomb.

Read more here. And if you missed it, keep an eye out on BBC News 24 for a repeat.

Millsbomb you idle get

Had an appropriate knuckle rapping from Mal Jones regarding my utter lack of follow up on anything I promise to do. Harsh but fair.

Prompted me to get right on and..

oh wait, erm..

found this really good game...

Speed Card Game

Can you see the trouble with me? As my ex-girlfriend pointed out - no committment. Or did she say staying power? Ah well.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Rental Profitability Calculator

This is quite neat. Its a calculator to work out the rental profitability on your property.

You put in a bunch of figures and it tells you how many weeks of the year you need to rent your place to cover the mortgage and other costs.

http://www.espanabreaks.com/villa_profit_checker.php

Kudos to the guy who thought this up.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Online Telly


Sshhh, don't tell Jack but I found this chestnut of dubious legality: tv-links.co.uk

It links to loads of my fave telly programs, whole series in fact, which you can watch via streaming video. Free of charge.

Missed an episode of 24? Or my favourite CSI Las Vegas?

Watch them all here, there's chuffing loads.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Agent Survey

Like a Spanish Esther Rantzen, Justin at eyeonSpain.com has had the bright idea for a consumer survey of Spanish agents and vendors. He wants your opinions (but no rude shaped vegetables) at: http://www.eyeonspain.com/questionnaire-rating.aspx

The idea, presumably, is to poll results and get a top 10 (or even better a worst 10!), to help inform new buyers about the outsanding moral fibre - or otherwise - of their prospective agent or developer.

Any bets on where Aifos will be in this poll?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Chris McCarthy buys back Viva Estates

With more twists and turns than an Eldorado christmas special, Chris McCarthy, the ousted former MD of Viva Estates, has apparently bought back controlling shares in the company, thus putting him back at the helm.

The company had recently been seeking investment, following a fairly shaky period which has seen them adopt then abandon a 2/3% commission rate, switch staff from commission to salary and toy with the idea of selling products in emerging markets.

The big question is, can McCarthy turn round the ailing company? Answers on a postcard to Marcus Tandy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Reasons to be cheerful Part 1

Just been mulling over the start of a new year in that am-dram entertainment we call the Spanish property market.

Maybe its the unseasonal sunshine that is affecting my outlook but I'm sure there's a slightly more positive vibe going on.

Is the January sunshine dispelling the doom and gloom of 2006? Or am I still drunk from New Year? My air of optimism stems from a quick glance about at the web:

1) Justin from eyeonspain.com reckons 2007 will be a great year for buyers

2)These Valencia agents appear to be seeing significant growth in their area

3)Then there's this:
Holiday Home Buyers Return To Spain
Capital growth in Spain has fallen from 12% earlier in the year to 10.8% currently and is likely to continue slowing into 2007, after which it will probably stabilise. British holiday home buyers will continue to support the market, which is also underpinned by strong demand from Spanish locals for their own holiday homes, as well high levels of tourism.

(from 50connect.co.uk)

4) And read this. Investment experts Assetz and Sunday Times journalist Mark Stucklin both seem to be in agreement that we can expect a price check, but that the overall outlook is stable and positive.

Reasons to be cheerful then? Well, on the whole yes. There may be some vendors who are in for a rude awakening when it comes round to valuation time, but Spain still retains its charm for the British buyers it would seem.

And besides, I'm househunting this year and I'm definitely not after a unique fixer upper in Romania. Viva España.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Use Gmail to store your files

Here's a demon clever little thing: GSpace

Whats that then? For those of you with a gmail account it allows you to select files from your PC and upload them for safe keeping to your gmail account. As well as being secure storage, this has the added advantage of making the files available to you from any machine with an internet connection.

It is an add-on for Firefox (a much better browser than IE!). For those who haven't tried this browser yet, give it a go. Its got tabbed browsing and millions of useful add ons like this one.

So there you go.