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Archive for the ‘Rantings’ Category

The Snow v The Servers v The Trains

Posted by guesto on February 3, 2009

I have to slightly disagree with Jemima Kiss’s opinion that Fortunately, the internet is entirely snow resistant, as she commented on how the internet allows us to work from home. That’s true, but the weather did lead to the crashing of the two sites I most wanted to read yesterday, namely TFL and NationalRail.

Yes, in an ironic show of solidarity with the transport systems they represent, both these sites completely shut down on Monday morning as commuters tried to find information about whether or not they could get to work. Perhaps this is understandable, as Hitwise reports that National Rail got 3 times it’s normal traffic, and TFL 5 times it’s normal.

Traffic to TFL and National Rail on snow day

I can imagine the conversation with the techies on this one – 5 times normal traffic is way beyond their burstable limits and it is unreasonable to expect the site should be able to cope with such a spurious event. There is probably a techy or account manager somewhere that suggested that the site should be equipped to cope with that much of a freak traffic day, but that suggestion would have become a cost estimate, which would have found it’s way to the budget holder’s desk, who would have said “no way”.

So perhaps it is reasonable to apply the same empathy to the transport systems themselves? After all, 5 inches of snow is 5 times the norm for London. And whatever the final recorded amount was, I heard it was the most for 18 years. So applying server logic to the actual transport system, would we want public money poured into providing “redundant capacity” in unused train tracks, snow ploughs and snow chains for buses? I very much doubt it. The press would have a field day with that too!

But don’t worry, I’m not completely excusing the transport authorities, who really should try harder. After all, as Haroon Siddique summarises, it’s not like nobody knew it was coming.

But instead I’ll refrain from ranting about what happens on one day out of 6,570 days, I’ll rant about what happens on way too many normal days of the week:

Dear First Capital Connect,

I understand why it can be an operational challenge to run more trains than you already do per hour through central London. But there is NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER for only running 4 carriage trains at peak times. Have you ever tried to get a northbound train from Farringdon during evening rush hour when only 4 cars turn up? I’m beyond worrying about getting a seat, I just worry about fitting on it at all! We commuters (that pay your wages with our fares) get squeezed on like cattle, tempers fray and you wonder why people see fit to take it out on you?

4 Carriages = 1 timetabled slot = 1 driver
8 Carriages = 1 timetabled slot = 1 driver

That’s like double the efficiency in terms of passengers per slot and better economy of scale. Is there something that stops it being that simple that I don’t know about? Please tell me.

Alternatively, could we have an option to only pay half our rail fare if you only provide half the passenger capacity?

And don’t even get me started on your plans to raise prices AGAIN despite the worst recession in a generation.

If First Capital Connect were my client…

…I would love to see how they like me servicing them the way they service me.

  • At their busiest hour I would switch off half their servers without reason or apology
  • I would wait until they had serious financial problems then raise my prices beyond double the rate of inflation
  • I would make redundant half my workforce that allow them to pay for my services, make them wait in long queues, then hit them with penalty fares for not paying
  • I would do all this, then put up posters around my office threatening them with legal action if they complain too aggressively.

Now, I would not exactly be the world’s most successful agency if I were to do that now would I? I imagine they and other clients would go and do business elsewhere.

UNLESS of course I were to somehow have a completely unchallenged monopoly over the entire sector in their area, then I COULD behave in exactly that way and they’d have to accept it!

Hmmm, I wonder if the government will grant ME a monopoly like they did the train companies. That sounds like great business!


Posted in Insights & Opinions, Rantings | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Twitter gets the spammer treatment

Posted by guesto on February 2, 2009

Having decided that Twitter is now mainstream, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to have received my first twitter-based spam today. If even mainstream brands and daytime presenters are enjoying the reach of Twitter, it’s inevitable that spammers will rolling up their pikey sleeves and flexing their dirty little fingers too.

It came in the form of a “spammerscum is now following you on Twitter” email. Naturally one clicks through to see who could possibly be interested in my drivvel, only to find a photo of a suspiciously good looking girl and a single tweet offering the chance to earn $2,000 a week working from home. I won’t include a link – lets not give them the publicity they want.

It made me think how they intend to broadcast through twitter. As they are following me, they only get to darken my inbox once if I decide to check who is following me. Thankfully they don’t get into my own updates feed, unless they @message me, which would be very time consuming.

I guess that initial single view of their page and URL is all they want really. And as there is little to stop them registering new profiles, they can just keep doing that as much as they like. Hmm, this could get messy.

Oh spammers, why do you have to go and ruin everything? Does it really ever work? Honestly?

It’ll be interesting to see what twitter do about it. It’s not exactly been built with as much protection as something like Facebook has. So they’ll probably have to start investing in upgrades to put in extra security measures and stop the few spoiling it for the rest.

Looking at that one loser’s profile, it shows that they are following 457 people, and only have 5 followers themselves, presumably them too. Perhaps a watching-to-watched ratio that unbalanced in the watching direction could trigger a spammer alert to Twitter moderation? After all, nobody can read 457 people’s updates.

So is this to be Twitter’s downfall? Is it to be a victim of it’s own success? Or are they deliberately operating a policy of allowing it for as long as possible? It certainly does fuel the success to keep it easy to signup, allow traffic (and PR) to grow.

Posted in Digital, Insights & Opinions, Rantings | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Setanta score own-goal over England v Croatia Highlights

Posted by guesto on September 12, 2008

Before this week, I was warm to the idea of Setanta. Little guy takes on the near-monopolistic beast that is Sky in an bid to add some competition to the market. Good on you for having a go. But now I find myself incredulous over how they have screwed-up over the England V Croatia highlights, missing a massive opportunity to boost their business, and pissing-off England fans right across the country.

I’ll assume you know the story – Setanta buys exclusive rights to air England v Croatia match, big whup – nobody that bothered, game poves to be an absolute belter, with Arsenal’s Theo Walcott scoring a hatrick and England winning 4-1, Setanta get all greedy over selling the highlights to other channels, so people like me that can’t watch Setanta (not even the pubs in Kentish Town have it) don’t get to see the game at all, even after the event. Everyone let down.

This is annoying enough, but what really winds me up is this statement on their website:

“Setanta always wanted as many football fans as possible to be able to watch tonight’s Croatia v England World Cup qualifying match. We always intended to make highlights available, and were disappointed that we were unable to reach agreement with any of the terrestrial broadcasters. This was not due to any lack of willingness on our part: we have been able to strike highlights deals in Wales and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, none of the terrestrial broadcasters who expressed an interest in the England game offered us a fair market price.

“We are delighted that we have been able to find a solution to this problem with our own free-to-air highlights programmes. A lot of people had to move quickly to make this happen and I would like to thank them for their efforts. We hope football fans enjoy tonight’s games.”

I mean, don’t kick me in the balls and call it a blow-job. Don’t try and tell me that you have the interests of England fans at heart here, and definately don’t think that you have taken the moral high-ground there.

THIS is how I as a consumer read and understand your statement:

“We wanted to make us much money as possible from England’s success, and we tried as hard as we could to get as much money as we can. When the terrestial channels didn’t fall for our ploy, we decided to blatantly disregard the people of England by not selling it at all, cutting off our noses and spiting our own faces in the process.

We are ignorant enough to think that showing highlights once, for free on our still-niche channel is an acceptable gesture to the fans, and we are disorganised enough to do it in a way that nobody will have the chance to know that it is available or watch it. We hope that everyone appreciates our complete lack of understanding of the media landscape in 2008.”

Yes I’m ranting, but I am aggravated not just as a consumer, but also as a marketer that is flabbergasted at how badly they have missed an open-goal of an opportunity that could have made their season. Here is what I think they should have done:

  1. Decline to sell the rights to the highlights to other channels, I agree with that.
  2. Put the goals free-to-view streaming in high quality on the website as the only place to watch them. Make it a good experience, make the quality excellent and allow users to watch it as many times as they like and send to their friends
  3. Put clickable pre-roll and post-roll adverts on the clips that promote Setanta subscription packages and allow the customer to click-through and order if they want to buy
  4. Mobilise your media sales team to contact all your best sponsors and sell banner-advert space on the web page at an extreme premium, as the best and only place that the 60m residents of England can watch the clip. The revenue would be more that than you have ever made from a webpage
  5. PR-the-arse off the fact that you are declining rights-sales and making the content free for fans. What nice guys you are.

That’s a win-win: Fans get their football, Setanta get increased brand equity, subscriptions and immediate revenue from online advertising. I think that strategy would be especially successful in the long run, because England fans being England fans will now get all over-excited about our prospects and be keen to watch the next matches. Warmed to your brand by your giving away the highlights free when we wanted them, we might then sign-up for your subscription package – in massive numbers.

Instead, I feel even more dismayed that you have obviously invested extra effort in monitoring YouTube and other sites to get clips taken down that fans have shared. Its as if you just stubbornly don’t want anyone to watch it and you don’t care what that says about you as a brand. I found them anyway, of course – you can’t stop these things – but I had to watch them in crap quality on some awful Korean (or something) website covered in abbrassive ads and pop-ups. I now hate Setanta for making me do that.

Everyone hates Setanta

Everyone hates Setanta

I would have thought that Setanta would have been a bit more sensitive about this issue, after all, everyone is well-aware that you are an Irish company, and many die-hard football fans don’t think you should be allowed to show our football at all. That’s not my opinion, but this sort of behaviour will probably have some questioning whether Setanta are doing all this just as some gay Irish plan to spite the English?

Posted in Digital, Rantings | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Field Day 2008 – Amazing Foals, Awful Organisation

Posted by guesto on August 10, 2008

Went to Field Day in Victoria Park, London yesterday. Foals headlined and were amazing, really tight and energetic – looking forward to seeing them again at Brixton later in the year.

Foals on stage at Field Day

Foals on stage at Field Day

The weather did it’s best to ruin the day, alternating between drizzling pouring it down for the whole day. But the prize for ruining everyone’s fun must go not to the weather, but to the idiot organisers who managed to completely screw-up the toilets by way of poor planning and farcical management on the day.

This picture gives you an idea of how long the queues were, but what you can’t quite see is that when the queue reaches the toilet area itself, it goes through a zig-zag layout as if it were a queuw at Alton Towers. Even with that in place, the line literally reached from one side of the festival to the other. I felt sorry for the girls that had no choice but to stand in it.

Queue for the toilets

Queue for the toilets

I’ve been to a good 10-12 festivals of various sizes in my time, and I’ve never seen it managed so badly. They had nowhere near enough toilets for the number of people there, they had urinals lumped in with the cubicles so that queues formed where they didn’t need to, there was not enough signage and not enough marshals trying to help people find the right queue, instead of having arguments with paying customers that were rightly outraged at the situation.

At one point, I saw through the fence that only about a third of the urinals were in use, with the rest of them standing empty. Yet the useless marshals had everyone queueing in one giant line for no reason. When I suggested that they have a seperate queue for urinals to speed things up the marshal told me to just get in the queue but push through it! They actually made all the guys get into the zig zag and push through all the girls to get to the front, instead of just letting them through a side gate. Unbelievable.

Anyway. Aside from that, the day was pretty good. Foals were the highlight but I also enjoyed all the bands I saw, which were Howling Bells, White Lies, James Holden, Lightspeed Champion and Foals in that order. Photos are on my Flickr at

Posted in Music, Rantings | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

“First” Class

Posted by guesto on December 17, 2007

The warm and welcoming tone we come to expect from First Capital Connect.

Welcome/fuck off sign on First Captial Connect train

Welcome indeed

Posted in Rantings | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Currently Loving: The Rifles

Posted by guesto on April 13, 2007

I’ve always said that illegal downloading of music doesn’t stop me buying music, it just stops me buying CRAP music. It saves me from that remorse you get when you take a punt on an album only find it is complete gash. Yes “Hot Hot Heat”, I mean you!

But if I like what I hear I go out and buy it anyway. One such example? The Rifles. Loving their album at the mo. So much so I just bought 4 tickets to go and see them at the Shepards Bush Empire in October. The album “No Love Lost” will be bought tomorrow.

Rifles - No Love Lost

Moral of the story? If you make good music, file sharing will work in your favour. Make crap music and it will end you!

Anyway, ranting aside, here is a vid. Not the best on the album, but still pretty good.

Local Boy


Posted in Music, Rantings | Leave a Comment »