Web sites

I think it is just about essential for businesses to have a proper web site. Yes, fine, they can have Facebook pages or whatever, but a serious company should have a formal site that provides useful information for any customer wanting to use its services or products.

A restaurant, for example, should have pictures, a sample menu, contact details and opening times, possibly an on-line booking system (this always sways me, given a choice of two, one with and one without), possibly comments from customers (though the only ones are likely to be good and perhaps not 100% representative). The site should reflect the nature of the restaurant and, if there are rules, eg jacket required, it should say so.

Whatever the business is, the information should be accurate and sufficiently detailed. The contact information will have a telephone number and an e-mail address, and if you send them an e-mail, they should respond in a timely manner.

A formal web site does not have to be boring. It should reflect the nature of the business, it should appeal to potential customers. But, at the same time, some care is needed in the presentation. Black writing on a black background is not good, hidden items, broken links, missing pictures etc and spelling mistakes will put potential customers off. Information should be easy to find. Given all the competition about these days, making it hard for a potential customer to get information is not a good plan.

I was disheartened recently to find a pretty well known rock group had announced a tour for 2018, so went to their web site to see if they were coming my way, which is London. This is their official site. Last updated 2009. Really.

Things like a shop or a forum can be a plus, but need someone who will commit to managing it/them. Of course, a shop especially can be a money earner. For musicians, for example, some kind of unique product will sell. I have several signed discs in my collection. On line chat or help can be good (personally I hate ringing companies and being on hold for hours), but the people on the other end need to actually know things and be helpful.

This just seems logical to me. It’s called being business-like, professional. Web sites don’t have to be huge. I have a few sites and one has nearly two hundred pages. It has generated exactly £0 in the 17 years it has been run, but that is not its purpose. As a repository of knowledge on a certain subject, it is pretty exhaustive, either from what I have included or through links to other sites. There is another site I do for someone that is barely five pages and generates thousands each year. It serves its purpose totally and has no gimmicks, mistakes or waffle. People who visit it find what they need and at least one reliable method for getting more help and purchasing the product.

John Young

I was born in 1954 and my formative years were in the 1960s. I always find it hard to explain to people what it was like then, but it was an exciting time, a time for change and advancement.

My big interest was space, and I am sure I just about remember Sputnik. I definitely remember coming home from school and my mum telling me about Yuri Gagarin, an under-sung hero in the history of the world.

I knew all about the America astronauts, all the missions and craft, and I followed it carefully. JFK made a commitment to landing a man on the Moon before the decade was  out, and returning him safely to Earth. If he had said that now, he would have been all over the press for excluding women.

Most people’s “favourite” astronaut was probably John Glenn. The most famous, possibly one of the most famous people who have ever lived, was Neil Armstrong. There are very few of the originals still alive. Glenn died recently and my favourite, John Young died the other day at a good age.

He was, I would say, a character. Famously, on one flight he smuggled a corned beef sandwich onto the craft. He was the only person in the entire history of the World to fly to the Moon twice and land once. You can read more about him here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Young_(astronaut)

If you can catch the wonderful film In The Shadow Of The Moon, Young’s contribution shows that he was still as enthusiastic as ever about space, always looking to the future.

He would be sad, I am sure, that we no longer have the capability to go to the Moon.

Bus stops

If you are a visitor to London, one of the very best ways to get around, if you are not in a hurry, is by bus. But apparently, London buses are a bit confusing, so here are a few bits of basic advice:

  • not all red London buses are red. Many carry advertising and can be different colours
  • all buses have a route code, usually an number (eg 91) sometimes with a letter (eg W7). Do not confuse the regular buses with coaches (eg to airports) or tour buses
  • many bus routes operate 24 hours a day, every day except Christmas Day. Not all routes operate 24 hours. Night buses are labelled with an N (eg N91). It is possible that a night bus does not go on the exact same route as the regular service – often they can have different or extended routes. Some night buses run only at weekends.
  • not all buses stop at all stops. Look at the bus sign – it should indicate exactly what buses stop where. Most shelters have maps listing destinations, suitable buses and a map showing where they can be caught.
  • bus maps are available for free at tube information desks. Do not pay for a map
  • bus stops are of two types

compulsory, meaning, the bus stops there regardless

request, meaning you have to indicate to the driver you want it to stop. You do this by flagging the driver with your arm (not last minute though) if you are at the stop, or by pressing the bell once if you are on the bus. Our experience is that compulsory stops are often not honoured, so we advise you to treat every stop as request. The indicator inside the bus will show if it is stopping.

  • expect traffic delays
  • cash is not accepted. Pay by Oyster (or etc) when you get on, not off
  • there are no transfers
  • expect buses to be packed at rush hour
  • many bus shelters have an indicator showing next bus times. These are usually accurate, but not always. There are many very good free travel apps that work in London and will help. We use CityMapper but there are many others.
  • do not attempt to enter or leave a bus except at a proper bus stop, and do not annoy drivers by banging on the door after the bus has left the stop

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone. It’s 2018.

So, what do we have to look forward to this year?

Winter Olympics seem to be the first major even of the year. The venue is South Korea. I always think I should enjoy winter sports more than I do. I remember as a child I liked watching bobsleigh, but things like ice skating leave me cold. There are some tough events where they go for long distances and then shoot things. There’s some football event, too.

There’s a Royal wedding coming up too. Prince Henry (aka Harry) marries Meghan sometime in May. They are saying that pubs will be open longer for people to celebrate. I don’t get that. What’s it do to with us when he’s getting married, except, I suppose, that we subjects actually pay for it. Oh, and yet another royal baby is due.

2018 will see the British Government sort out all the problems relating to Brexit. President Trump will visit the UK and will be universally hailed as the greatest president who has ever lived.

There will be some famous deaths. There will be terrorist attacks. There will be at least one major disaster where hundreds of people get killed.

Hmm. How long is it to Christmas?

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