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: