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Whether your school is holding an Easter egg hunt for the pupils, or your local Pre-School / Nursery or Infant class is making Easter birds nests or other Easter themed crafts, then I’ve had a tasty idea.

Mini chocolate eggs, which are available in mixed foil colours and bulk bags.

The Chocolate Trading Company has a mouth-watering selection of mini chocolate eggs, just right for your Easter egg hunt or other Easter themed event.

And if you’re holding an Easter competition, then their gift wrapped bags of Easter novelties – Bunnies & ChicksChocolate Bunny lollys or their selection of premium dark and milk chocolate Easter eggs all make superb, fun gift present ideas for children of all ages.

Having previously been a helper at a local village Pre-School, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to source the right items at the right price without having to commit yourself to 1000’s of eggs in one order. Once again, the Chocolate Trading Company have made it extremely easy to order minimal quantities of their mini-eggs and other novelties. You can even order some items without gift packaging – why pay for what you don’t need?

And with their bags of mixed colour foil covered eggs, it’s easy to put together a great, colourful collection of delicious Easter eggs, without the hassle of having to order large quantities of each colour, to mix yourself.

Of course, if you are looking for larger quantities, then you’ll find you can order single foil colours in bags of 100 and 635 eggs!

So take my advice and take the hassle out of sourcing Easter eggs and other chocolate novelties for your Easter themed School or social event and visit the Chocolate Trading Company’s website for loads of Easter egg and other scrumptious gift ideas.

Note: All links are non-affiliate – I just hope you find them useful.

March 22, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Purple 13 is on Pin Interest

http://pinterest.com/purplethirteen/

There!

March 22, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

This whole Northern Lights thing…

Hi

Someone recently commented that I hadn’t posted anything for a few weeks – thankfully, nothing broken (ha-ha) but seriously, life is ticking along and it’s nearly February.

Or put another way, this time last month was Christmas Eve!

Anyway, this whole ‘Northern Lights’ thing – you know, them being visible from the UK rather than just the outer rims of the Arctic.

Is it only me that thinks it all sounds a bit like ‘the day of the triffids’?

Avert your eyes now!

And this blast of solar radiation heading our way…. Isn’t that what happened to the Fantastic Four?

I don’t wanna be a rock.

January 24, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A locked rear door will fail your car’s MOT

I thought it was worth sharing that if, like me, you had a broken door lock (in this case a Skoda Octavia with a locked rear passenger door), then make sure it works before taking your car for an MOT as a ‘permanently’ locked shut door will fail the MOT – even if it’s a back door.

The problem was that the door had locked shut on its deadlock some months ago, so I couldn’t get to the inside door panel screws to remove it and access the locking mechanism.

Luckily, my friends at Smalley Service Station came to the rescue – managed to unlock the door and secure a repair.

Now that it opens (and locks before you get any ideas), I can make a full repair of the central locking at my leisure.

Just the small matter of the £150 for a new solenoid…..

Well, I never used that door anyway.

January 12, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Headlamp bulb replacement on an 02 Ford Galaxy 2.3 Zetec.

I had to replace a dipped beam headlamp bulb on Mandy’s Ford Galaxy (2.3 Zetec on 02 plate) last weekend for her.

Silly me, without removing the old one first, I headed for the local auto spares shop in Buxton. When I got there, I was informed by the very helpful man behind the counter, that they had 2 bulbs listed.

One was £7 odd whilst the other, a gas discharge type was around £60.

I chose the cheaper version (I’m a cheapskate and prayed it was the cheaper option fitted, plus that was the only one they had in stock!). They don’t carry the more expensive gas discharge ones since most customers tended to find them cheaper on ebay, the nice man informed me.

So to fitting it. It was the Driver’s side bulb that had gone. First thing I noticed when I lifted the bonnet was that there was no obvious ‘rear of headlamp cluster’ assembly – all was covered by a multitude of plastic panels. Looked like it was going to be a major job.

Fear not. A ‘hidden’ panel – hidden because a thin film of engine dirt had obscured the imprint within the plastic – slides upwards and removes to give you access to the rear of the headlamp cluster. A tight metal catch undoes from the top, to allow the protective cap to be removed, giving access to the rear of the bulbs. The plastic cover really needs to be removed completely and it’s a bit tight for space so deep breath and patience – especially if you’re not good at solving those ‘which piece goes where’ type of puzzles.

That plastic cap locates on two ‘spikes’ within the headlamp surround at the bottom – you’ll need to check when re-fitting that it’s located in these properly, otherwise the spring clip at the top won’t hold and you’ll loose the cover whilst driving.

Remove the wiring connector from the back of the bulb you’re replacing and then release the spring clip holding the bulb in place. It pushes in and either up or down to un-locate from it’s little metal retaining hook.

Fitting the new bulb is a reverse of the above. Make sure you get the initial bulb retainer clip secure – it’s one of those jobs for small hands (which i don’t have) and most of it will be done by feel as you can’t really see anything – not on a grey, dull November day.

Apparently, the near-side bulb is trickier because of the proximity of the battery cover. Let’s just hope that one lasts a bit longer then shall we?

December 16, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Why I queued for the iPhone 4 (not iPhone4S)

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It was a bright morning last June – the new iPhone 4 had launched a few days earlier and getting a lift in with my boss – himself an apple ‘devotee’, we were discussing when each of us was going to get the new iPhone.

 

As we had a habit of going in particularly early, we agreed we’d round up our old iPhone3 (in his case 3gs) boxes and phones in case the opportunity presented itself and the O2 shops in Derby got some more stock in.

 

So 7.30am, driving through Derby, he suddenly swung the wheel round and headed for the town centre car park.

 

When we got to the O2 store, a small queue of around 50 people was already there. We took one look and decided to leave it until later.

 

There was a certain fever – checking website updates for more stock arriving etc – receiving text alerts and generally watching the local chatter on twitter for a whiff of any stock suddenly being available.

 

One good thing about being ‘in on it’ with the boss is that when he announced later that morning that he was fed up with waiting and was going to try the shop again, I got invited along.

 

So we queued – around 20 of us (much to the amusement of passing shoppers) and then the doors re-opened and an O2 staff member came out to announce they’d only got limited amounts (around 25 phones) and he would presently come out with numbered cards to save anyone wasting a wait.

 

So we queued, we chatted with other Apple devotees, a rumour started that the other O2 shop had stock and had opened doors – my boss went to check it out whilst I kept our queue places (and those ‘golden tickets’ should they be allocated).

 

He eventually came back to report if the other shop had opened, it had quickly shut again. We waited.

 

Some 2 hours later, the doors opened and they started taking in people from the front of the queue – two at a time. Since it took around 20 mins to process two customers, we realised we weren’t going to be going anywhere fast – but at least we had our numbered slips so we were assured to get a new phone that day.

 

Of course, eventually it was our turn to be ushered into the ‘hallowed turf’, where we were given a demo of the phones new features…(grrrr just give me the phone), and then it was ‘flash your cash’ and sign your life away (well to O2 anyway).

 

We left, clutching out little O2 string handled, iPhone 4 paper bags, and wearing smiles as big as the Rock of Gibraltar.

 

Back to work 3 hours later, and of course the first thing we did was set up our new shiny iPhones for use.

 

It’s amusing to read todays (Friday 14th Oct) accounts of people who also queued for the latest phone from Apple – the iPhone 4s – and also the ‘rants’ of people who, much like those shoppers we encountered, are amused that anyone would queue for a mere phone.

 

Having been there and done it (so to speak), I can say it was an experience for sure. An almost war like mentality of gentlemanly conduct as we quietly queued that morning, no pushing in, no impatience, just good humour and bon ami abound.

 

And why not queue for a particular phone / gadget? Plenty of people – far greater numbers in fact – queue for music concert tickets every day or the premiere of new films. Not to mention the numbers that travel around the UK (or the globe) for sporting events. Are they all nerdy or odd? I think not.

 

So why aren’t i queueing this time? Well, it was tempting – very tempting – but with my phone contract due renewal in a months time (earliest upgrade point), I’m going to wait until then, providing all those disgruntled blackberry users haven’t snaffled up all the available stocks of iPhone  4s. i think even I can wait a month and there are other benefits in letting others destruct test a new model before you purchase – plenty of time to iron out any kinks etc.

 

No, I can wait (repeat to one’s self 100 times), but the wait will be worth it…. I can wait (repeat 100 times)….

 

photo credit: herry lawford

October 26, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Replacing the indicator relay on a Skoda Octavia 1.9TDI Elegance (on a ’53 plate).

Replacing the indicator relay on a Skoda Octavia 1.9TDI Elegance (on a ’53 plate).

 

Tools required: Small flat bladed screwdriver

Time required: 5 minutes

Parts required: Replacement flasher relay unit / hazard warning switch (it’s all one unit!)

 

When the indicators on my Skoda Octavia (1.9 TDI ’53 plate) started beating erratically – sometimes a double click, sometimes (and more often then not) a single burst before falling silent, I realised it my be time to replace the flasher / indicator relay.

 

Usually, you’d expect to find the relay within one of the fuse boxes along with the headlamp relays etc, but on the Skoda (and several VW models), the relay for the indicators is actually ‘behind’ the hazard warning switch in the centre of the dash.

 

When I say behind the hazard warning switch – what I mean is it’s actually part of the switch – all one assembly, so you have, to in fact, replace the whole hazard warning switch! Ouch!

 

Actually, the cost from my local Skoda dealer in Spondon, Derbyshire – Clock Garage – click here (non-affiliate link) – was £32.00 inc vat. I did try a few auto spares type shops but they don’t stock the actual manufacturer switch. If you know different, leave a comment below.

 

So to actually fit the new indicator/flasher relay / switch, you need a fairly small flat blade screwdriver.

 

Sitting in the car’s front passenger seat, gently prise the small rectangular ‘Octavia’ branded plastic surround away from the hazard warning switch. Start in the bottom LH corner and gently pop out the four locating lugs – two on the LH side and two on the RH side (quite near the corners).

 

With the switch fascia removed, you can again, gently prise out the exposed switch block. Pull the switch right out (there’s enough wiring loom to do this) and pull off the connecting wire block at the rear of the switch.

 

The switch will only fit one way so don’t worry too much about remembering the orientation of the socket to the switch back. Do make sure the loom with the connector can’t disappear back down the exposed switch hole in the dashboard!

 

Connect  the new switch and re-fit the switch to the dashboard. Make sure the switch locates snuggly all around the surround – it’s easy because of the angle of the dash to think you’ve pushed it all the way home when in fact the top of the switch isn’t quite flush. Use the flat end of the screwdriver to gently push the corners of the switch block back. It’s a bit tight for fingers.

 

You might want to try the switch works so put the keys in the ignition and try both directions and hazard functions. You should get a satisfying regular ‘heart beat’ from the unit and the indicator lights should work accordingly.

 

If all’s good, then re-fit the ‘Octavia’ fascia plate by pushing all four corners back into place.

 

That’s it. Job done.

 

A reminder that your car will fail its MOT if the indicators / hazard warning lights are not functioning correctly.

 

Image gallery:

1) the connector from the back of the hazard switch showing unique location points.

2) The replacement indicator relay including hazard warning switch head.

3) The ‘Octavia’ fascia plate (removed) showing the location of it’s locating lugs.

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October 20, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Why brands don’t fare better on Twitter – could it be fear?

Inspired by a post by Chris Brogan, which I actually picked up on via Google+, who looked at a few corporate twitter accounts and basically ripped the hell out of them for doing it so badly (building a brand on twitter), it occurred to me that as a company / small business / sole-trader tweeting from a ‘business’ account, things can soon go horribly wrong. Especially when the technology is ‘new’ to you.

 

If it’s all about getting the mix right, then you’re not alone as Chris illustrates.

 

Have you / are you suffering from any of the following misconceptions / fears or forebodings when using Twitter?

 

If you tweet pure links to various pages / products on your website, that’s good isn’t it because you’re pointing your followers to particular instances of your companies brilliance. If they’re not interested, surely they won’t bother clicking?

 

if you’re too chatty, then you might come across as someone unreliable to do business with.

 

if you reply to everyone, then you’re either desperate for friends or you have too much time on your hands – e.g lack of business gives another reason not to use you from a follower / prospective customers point of view.

 

Profanity, sexist/racist/religious/political humour or general opinion tweets should be avoided because you’ll offend a follower / potential customer.

 

You have to be careful who you follow, lest you follow a competitor and your followers buy from them instead.

 

You have to constantly monitor for your name being mentioned, so you can see when someone’s moaning about  you or your product. Not that you can do anything about it of course.

 

If your avatar is a product, then you have to constantly change your avatar because otherwise followers will associate you with just one product.

 

Nobody’s interested in where you went for a meal or what you watched on telly last night and as you’re always working, nothing exciting worth tweeting ever happens to you.

 

After all the work and hours you put into your twitter account – carefully considered avatar, custom background, building a following, you’ll never get any business from it anyway so why bother customising?

 

All followers must be customers. If not then why did they follow you in the first place?

 

Albeit irrational, which of the above are you most afraid of?

 

It’s normal to experience a little trepidation when embarking on a new ‘project’, and nobody (not even Chris Brogan et al) expects you to get it right straightaway. Somethings like Twitter take a little while to get into the groove with.

 

Frequency, style and content will all come with time. I’ve written several ‘guides to using twitter’ myself, but there’s plenty of information and guidance (like Chris’s post). Go find!

 

I’ve built up some fantastic contacts and although we’ve never met, some good friends as well. As for customers, well one day that may come to. The fact that you give your potential customers a preferred way (for them) to engage you / your brand is surely what it’s all about?

October 4, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Smeg Dishwasher on / off button replacement – a how-to guide

 

You’ll now see the mains switch has 4 separate wire terminals going to the back of it.

 

Draw yourself a little diagram of which wire goes where and remove them by pulling the connector (not the wire) off the back of the switch.

 

To remove the switch itself, I found it best to use the thin blade of a small electronics screwdriver. Looking at the new switch for a minute, you’ll notice the little ‘barbed’ clip that holds the switch into the plastic mounting on the door panel.

 

I carefully slotted the screwdriver down the gap between the switch and the door mount and gently prised upwards. This removed the switch.

 

Re-attach the wire connectors to the new switch, and re-attach to the door mount. Check the on/off button pushes and clicks.

 

Carefully re-feed the wiring loom back into the door as you re-locate the door panel – don’t forget to fit that plastic cover first!

 

Then re-attach the door panel securely, plug the dishwasher in at the mains and hey-presto – it should work.

 

Well that’s the theory.

 

Unfortunately, it didn’t work on this occasion so i quickly went to the Internet for an answer.

 

The best I could find out is, having ruled out the power switch, that it is either the printed circuit board (PCB) that controls the power distribution and is actually located underneath that white plastic cover we removed to access the power switch.

 

You can visually check the pcb for burn marks – a visual clue it’s blown although there’s no guarantee.

 

The other cause could be the pump itself.

 

Either way, I deemed it un-economical to continue the repair. ESpares prices for a new power pcb (there’s a second pcb controls the functions) were around the £100 mark whilst a new pump could be as much as £170. And as it’s difficult to determine which part needs replacing, it’s not worth taking the risk.

 

The power with was only £7.25 so it was worth ruling out and could well have fixed the problem.

 

No drama without a crisis.

 

It’s worth reporting that initially, having used ESpares before and being impressed with their customer service, I experienced some trouble getting the switch delivered.

 

The item was in stock and showed as available for next day delivery so I paid the next day delivery premium of £6.99. This was the Thursday.

 

The item didn’t arrive until the following Monday so I emailed ESpares to enquire about a refund on the next day delivery cost.

 

After emailing Tuesday and Wednesday without reply, I tweeted a general query on response times to complaints.

 

ESpares, to their credit came straight back to me on Twitter and after a small exchange of details, speedily agreed and refunded my delivery premium. To apologise for the delay, they also sent me a £5 voucher off my next order.

 

Now that’s service.

 

Please note – all the eSpares links in this post are non-affiliate. They’re just provided to help you track down the right parts yourself.

 

On/Off Push Button Switch Assembly (ES970161)

 

This is Smeg spares reference: 816450164

September 19, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Uh-Oh! Our Smeg Dishwasher’s control panel just went power-less

I’ve already affected a repair to the Smeg dishwasher when it’s door catch broke in January.

Now it’s control panel has gone dark – forums point to the problem being with the dishwashers power switch.

Apparently, all that heat can break up the insulation around the back of the switch contacts, causing them to short.

A new switch is on order so I’ll attempt the repair this weekend and I’ll blog a full how-to / how I got on later next week.

Wish me luck and if you’re Smeg dishwasher’s suffered a similar fate, then I may have some useful news for you.

Ta.

Jonathan.

September 8, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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