Poundbury Systems provides Cloud Computer Support in Dorchester

Posted by Chris on September 28th, 2011

Poundbury Systems of Poundbury, Dorchester is offering local companies advice and support on the pros and cons of Cloud Computing alongside its general computer, telephony and network support offerings.

” Cloud Computing ” is a term that gets mentioned quite often these days, usually accompanied by various general benefits of cloud computing like – lower cost, pay-as-you-go, flexibility, scalability, upgradability etc etc

Poundbury Systems believes that Dorchester based companies should look at the pros and cons of Cloud Systems solutions in relation to ” on premises ” solutions for their particular situation.

Poundbury has developed and supported Cloud Solutions via their Cloud Computing subsiduary ” FutureLine ”  http://www.futureline.net.uk/

FutureLine initially focussed on Cloud based telephony, supported over networks owned and managed by Poundbury Systems. In recent months the emphasis has been to develop a broader range of cloud  based solutions alongside the Cloud based telephony.

Whether cloud based or on premises the solutions that should be adopted should meet the customers requirements now and in the future.

Factors like performance, security, reliability, fault tolerance, risk and manageability should be discussed and the potential solutions evaluated against these criteria.

Poundbury Systems is known, within Dorchester and beyond for talking to customers in plain English and not in ” jargon “.

See below for contact details:

Contact Us

If you like what you’ve read so far, then please contact us.

Alternatively you could come and visit our state of the art offices. Purpose built in 2004 they house not only our wonderful staff but also our test labs and Customer Operations Centre

We are based in Poundbury, Dorchester, in the heart of the beautiful Dorset countryside. If you would like to know more, please contact us at the details below.

Poundbury Systems Ltd.
Emeria House
71-73 Middlemarsh St

Tel: 01305 259849
Fax: 01305 259725


Celtic Tiger awakes and starts tweeting about Hi Tech!!

Posted by Chris on September 27th, 2011

In the last couple of days the news has emerged that Ireland won the race to get Twitter to site it’s European Headquarters there. Unsurprisingly this news emerged on Twitter itself – apparently after a concerted effort by Irish Tweeps  to persuade Twitter to come to the land of the Celtic Tiger.

It was interesting timing for me because a U.S. based Hi Tech company had just asked me for my opinion on where to base it’s European Headquarters and I was also reading this article here about some ” tinkering ” that the U.K. government is planning with start-up investment incentives.


I am sure that IDA Ireland would have been delighted to know that my recommendation was to look closer at Ireland. I don’t have any real connection with Ireland other than the fact that I love Ireland and the Irish people – well doesn’t everyone ???

As a former Royal Navy officer in the 80’s Ireland was sort of ” off limits ” to me – especially Northern Ireland – but when I left the Navy and joined the Hi Tech world ( e.g. Memorex and then Fibernet ) the magic of Ireland started to pull me.

Memorex had strong representation in Ireland and of course the Irish Memorex salespeople were ” memorable ” !! Fibernet also did a lot of business  in Ireland ( customers included Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank ) and M.D. Charles was always being ” led astray ” by the Irish – they delighted in trying to get him to miss his plane by having ” one more Guinness “.

Guinness is of course just one reason why you have to go to Ireland.

For me there followed about 3 ” Stay on a farm ” tours with the children with so many highlights it’s difficult to remember them all – being in a country pub when a  céilidh erupted; the visit to Bunratty Castle; the visit to the Irish National Stud; the visit to the Jamieson’s Distillery. An Irish wedding in Cork. A corporate event with the U.K. Sales Director of 3Com. The occasion that I took the whole of Voyager Networks staff to Dublin to celebrate the sale of Voyager. Staying in the Shelbourne Hotel when ” The Monkees ” walked in !

This is the problem with Ireland – it’s just too much fun !!!

In fairness the Irish really have their act together at a time when the U.S. Hi Tech industry is awash with venture capital investment and many U.S. firms are looking for a base for their European Operations.

According to IDA Ireland Ireland is becoming the Internet Capital of Europe


and I am not going to argue with them. Even if all the tinkerings with the Enterprise Investment Scheme in the U.K. happen


the issue is more about which country has it’s act together in terms of the whole package : Country Brand & Likability Factor, Financial Incentives, Communications infrastructure  etc etc

When I was asked my opinion on where to base I said Ireland off the top of my head. I also asked a friend of mine who has a business helping U.S. companies to establish themselves in Europe – he said the U.K. I also Googled the question and came across a Linkedin answer with a lot of recommendations for Ireland. Just trying to get back to that Linkedin answer I found this:


Reid Hoffman of Linkedin asks Linkedin where best to place Linkedin’s proposed European H.Q. !!

The answer voted best to this question summarised as follows:

” My final choices as a potential company moving there? Luxembourg, Ireland, Switzerland. “

Linkedin eventually went to ………………………. Ireland !!


and note this:

Kevin Eyres, managing director of LinkedIn Europe commented, “We now have more than 14 million members in Europe and 60 million worldwide. As our membership continues to grow quickly, this is the right time for us to establish an international headquarters. Being based in Dublin gives us access to a highly skilled workforce and enables us to coordinate our business growth across Europe and beyond to deliver the best possible service to our members.”

But also see this ( hot off the press ) in respect of Tax:


and I quote

” That, in effect, represents a saving of €140,000 – or 53 per cent – from situating its European office in Dublin rather than London.

In actual fact, though, Twitter will probably save much more than that, if they’re clever enough to deploy tactics which exploit tax loopholes all over the globe.

It was revealed last year that accounting practices known as a Double Irish and a Dutch Sandwich – owing to similarly favourable tax conditions in the Netherlands – helped Google to reduce its tax bill by €2.2bn.

The 12 per cent Irish corporation tax rate which has contributed to the relocation of so many big companies to these shores has raised the heckles of the likes of France and Germany, who are adamant that Ireland should agree to a more uniform Europe-wide tax rate as a payback for the bailout provided by the (financial terrorists) good folk at the EU, ECB and IMF.”

Home News

and the point is that you need to have ALL your ” ducks in a row ” if you are going to win the ” which country am I going to base my European Headquarters in ” game.

If London wants to win in this game it had better put the sort of effort behind it that won the Olympics for 2012.

The Irish brand and the ” Double Irish and a Dutch Sandwich “ is going prove difficult to beat !!!

btw The Celtic Tiger awakening is not just about Internet companies the same is going on in the movie industry and healthcare sectors



Desktop PC future is clear – but cloudy !

Posted by Chris on September 25th, 2011

In this article here


fairly predictably Michael Dell argues that HP is wrong to sell off it’s PC business, joining IBM in doing so, because the PC sales give ” volume ” purchase prices to the server side of the business.

Comments on this article are mostly in favour of the PC, or some variant of it, being around for some time.

I agree. I am always interested in what the younger generation think since they are the future. My son and his friends use iphones, ipads and laptops. Just the other day they were talking and agreeing that they saw no need for a desktop PC because a laptop was all they needed.

Despite this being a ” personal/consumer  ” view rather than a ” business ” view I see their point.

I use a Blackberry and a laptop much more than a desktop these days.

There are a few things that you want or would prefer when you are sat at a desktop. Amongst them are :

– A big screen. As with TV’s big screens are nice. Having big screens or multiple screens with a number of applications open are preferable or essential in some work situations.

Although these might be extreme work requirements there is something ” must have ” about these systems for even personal use

So we want the best visual experience that we can get.

– Speakers. We also want the best audio experience that we can get, especially for watching video or gaming.

– Keyboard. It seems beyond time that we could sit down and ” speak to our PC’s ” instead of having to type information in to the computer. But whilst the technology exists for converting voice to text it is not widely used and the keyboard is still the device of choice with the touchpad and right and left buttons being typical for the laptop and some desktops

and the mouse and keyboard being used for desktops.

The touch screen is an alternative

and most of us have seen those films where someone stands in front of a huge screen, dragging information in manipulating it and then ” throwing it away “.

So, we are probably going to end up talking to the computers with typing, touching, dragging and clicking as back-ups.

Inevitably we will STILL want print outs !!

The paperless office still seems a very long way off.

The key for the desktop PC is seamless access to the information that exists on the more mobile devices being used – the mobile phone, pda and laptop. You want to be able to bring your mobile devices to the desktop and then be able to access any information that you want to on them from your desktop.

The question is ” Is that information actually going to sit on those devices in the first place or is it, in fact, in the cloud ? ”

( If it is in the cloud then the other advantage of the desktop is that it is going to have ” landline communications “i.e. high speed Internet access ).

The answer, I think, is that a lot of it will be in the cloud and some of it will be on each device. This will mean that the desktop will need to have easy access to the other devices for the occassions where the information is, for some reason, being held on the device. Since less information will be held on any single device they don’t necessarily need to have as much processing power and memory – except that they probably will because we will keep asking each individual device to do more.

So, I think the future of the Desktop PC is quite clear – to provide an enhanced experience relative to more mobile devices visually, audibly and for input and output. Also to facilitate high speed access to the cloud and to the mobile devices themselves.

Google + Hangout set-up

Oh No ! Another social network ! Open to the world

Posted by Chris on September 21st, 2011

You may have missed it but yesterday Google opened up it’s new social network, Google +, to everyone in the U.K.  – oh and the rest of the world too !

G+ or g+ has been on ” a very limited field trial ” since June 2011 and I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in this limited field trial ( by some kind people in my network ) and so can count myself as a first generation G+ user.

I am not sure that I had any room at all for another social network in my life but I certainly do have an interest in search, internet marketing and Google and therefore really felt that I had to take a look at G+.

Depending on whether a social networks content is ” open ” to search engines or
” closed ” to them ( Facebook’s content is mostly closed to the world outside of Facebook but e.g. Ecademy’s content is quite open ) social networks are powerful e.g. blogging platforms.

If content on G+ was linked to Google search results then there would be at least one very powerful reason for participating in the production and sharing of content on that platform.

There were some interesting aspects to the time that I spent in the G+ ” field
trial “.  i.e. from June to date.

Since G+ had essentially emanated from Silicon Valley on the West Coast of America my first connections ( On G+ you ” circle ” the people that you want to follow and those that want to follow you back circle you ) were U.S. West Coasters. Unsurprisingly many of these were involved in the High Tech. industry but perhaps more surprising was that there were many artists and photographers – who produced and posted some interesting and even stunning work.

There were also lots of marketing people and quite a few Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, business angels and venture capitalists. ( It may not be well known but Silicon Valley has been booming with new start-ups and slightly older ones getting more funding ).

So, from a social point of view I felt right at home in G+.

G+ rolled out across the U.S. and the Western world – but I should mention that there were a lot of Chinese and Far Eastern members of G+ in the early days aswell.

One of my tests for any software and certainly any social network is that it is easy and intuitive to use – which G+ certainly is.

I also found the people on there amazingly polite ( they had definately been trained in ” netiquette ” ! ). How long this will last now that it has been opened to “the masses” has yet to be seen. Certainly there are a number of 1st Generation G+ users who are dreading a massive decline in the quality of the content and the friendliness of the members.

Opening up G+ to everyone in the U.K. and the world is regarded as G+’s 100th ” new feature ” and the demarcation point between ” field trial ” and ” beta trial ” – yes – even though everyone can now join G+ it is still in
” beta “.

Another thing that I noticed with G+ was that the G+ Community Managers were very good at telling us all about new features and plans.

Recently a feature was launched whereby if you clicked on the G+ symbol on a piece of content ( one not on G+ as far as you knew )  not only were you ” voting ” on this content but also you were able to ” share ” it on G+.

It seems very likely that content that comes up high in a Google search in the future will be influenced by those that G+ and share that content.

The Balls to Qualify out and the Sense to Merge in

Posted by Chris on September 18th, 2011

On a recent tour of small business owners who were friends and clients the subject of ” qualifying out ” of prospects and customers came up again and again.

None of them had so many customers or prospects that they could afford to part company with them unnecessarily or ignore them  but all of them needed to spend their precious time with the right people.

It is sometimes hard to recognise and accept that there are some prospects that you don’t want as customers and some customers that you don’t want to keep any more.

The first discussion was mainly about qualifying out prospects and there was a debate as to whether ” sales ” were putting enough effort into the production of proposals for some clients. There was a feeling that more information about the company should be included and more of it  as ” templates ” . In fact what ” sales ” were doing was identifying some prospects as ” not very suitable” for the company and spending the minimum amount of time in putting proposals back to them. Sales also admitted that some ” templates ” needed updating and that there had been no time to do so.

Actually, generally speaking, I am against the use of templates for proposals although I will tolerate them for general background information about the company and it’s products and services. The problem with templates is that they lead to laziness and a failure to express and meet the real needs and requirements of the prospects.

I actually thought that sales were doing almost exactly the right thing by qualifying out of certain prospects. To do this takes experience and
” balls “.  You have to know what the ” right prospect ” looks like. The easiest way to do this might be by thinking about existing customers who are ” the right profile “. You also need to have in mind a standard list of qualification criteria like ” S.C.O.T.S.M.A.N. ” which stands for qualifying based around:

– Solution ( Do you have the right solution )

– Competition ( How much and who are they )

– Originality ( Do you have a fairly unique solution )

– Timescale ( Is there one ? What is it ? Does it fit ? )

– Size ( Does the size of the deal suit you/your company ? )

– Money ( Is there a budget ? )

– Authority ( Does the person/people you are talking to have the authority to make the decision )

– Need ( Is there an actual need ? )

See this link for a quick overview


The other time for considering whether to qualify out is when you have a customer that is causing you too much hassle, costing too much or not paying. This was the subject of a couple of the conversations. Again it was tough making a decision to let a customer go but again I felt that it was the right decision.

We also discussed how ” merging in ” with your clients can pay dividends. My story on this is that when I was at Memorex – Telex we always wore blue suits and white shirts with conservative ties whoever we went to see. However, when I went to work for Fibernet my boss, Charles, used to dress appropriately for the particular customer or prospect that he was going to see. In particular the suits were put away when visiting Bodyshop – who tended to dress a lot more casually.

Change coming in the way we shop in Poundbury Dorset

Posted by Chris on September 17th, 2011


According to a recent article in The Register ( see link below ) shoppers in Poundbury Dorset and elsewhere in the country are not going to need credit cards any more – just their mobile phones.

PayPal have created a very glitzy video

PayPal:The Future of Shopping in Poundbury

that shows how people bump their phones together to transfer money; scan in images from promotional posters to get credits and pay for goods via pdq machines using just a phone number and a pin.

Now, leaving aside the technology here, I worry about using PayPal because I ( and many other people who commented on the Register post ) have had a lot of problems with PayPal as it is at the moment.

Leaving that aside the idea itself looks good.




Wind Farm saves Dulas the Migrating Osprey chick and makes hater a lover!

Posted by Chris on September 14th, 2011

As we all know wind farms are a controversial subject, like many of the alternatives for producing electricity, but one Wind Farm ( Gunfleet Sands, off the Essex coast – owned by Dong Energy and Marubeni Corporation ) has just saved a migrating Osprey called Dulas who was caught out in the hurricane force winds of the last couple of days and decided to rest on a wind turbine – which probably saved his life.

When news emerged that Dulas was probably floating around in the Dover Straights hearts started fluttering and the tears started flowing amongst the followers of the Dyfi Osprey Project – except for the fact that he appeared to be floating around 10 meters above the surface of the sea!  Some mental agility on the part of the Dyfi Project team offered the faint hope that he was sheltering part way up a wind turbine although the thought of a young Osprey sitting inches from the whirling blades of a wind turbine was not a very comforting thought for many people.

Dulas was born around 13 weeks ago in a nest on the Cors Dyfi Reserve near Machynlleth, Mid Wales in the U.K.

  • He was one of 3 Osprey chicks born to proud parents Monty and Nora.

    I don’t know how many lives an Osprey has but Dulas had already lost one of his when his big sister, Leri, fought with him over a fish and got her talons into him. He got out of that one by playing dead – which everyone thought he was !

    All 3 Osprey chicks were fitted with satellite tracking devices so that they could be followed on their migration from Wales to West Africa. This migration occurs around this time of year. Nora left the chicks with their Dad, Monty, some weeks ago and he has been bringing them fish ever since they were born. The chicks answer a call of nature to head South and they do so alone and when the voice in their head reaches a level they can no longer ignore. Dulas’s brother, Einion, left a few days ago and is already near Casablanca. Dulas was next to leave and it appears that Leri has just gone too.

    Around 2000 people have been following Einion and Dulas via posts on the Dyfi Osprey Project’s Facebook page.

    The team at the Dyfi Osprey Project have done a fantastic job telling people about the project and keeping them informed on the progress of the chicks.

    People can track the migrating Ospreys via Google Earth or wait for the project team to post updates on the website or Facebook page.

    Einion’s journey South was relatively straight forward apart from his journey across the Bay of Biscay which had everyone slightly concerned because it was blowing quite hard – fortunately it blew him towards land rather than away from it. Typically, on average, one in three chicks will survive the migration so the chances of Einion, Dulas and Leri making it to West Africa are slim.

    When Dulas’s tracking signal stopped in the middle of the English Channel it looked like he might be one of the ones who would not make it.

    However, following his rest on the wind turbines, he is now well into France ( Last night was a beautiful, moonlit night and with the wind dropping he probably left the wind farm early this morning ) .

    The people that follow the Dyfi Osprey Project are by definition interested in nature and conservation so it is likely that, in general,  they are against  things that harm the environment.

    The Osprey chicks were threatened by low flying R.A.F. jets a few weeks ago but after the project wrote to the R.A.F. they kindly diverted the training flights elsewhere.

    When the possibility arose that Dulas was not floating dead in the sea but was alive and perched on a wind turbine there was relief and concern in equal measure. Relief that he had found a refuge in the storm but concerned at the whirling blades of the wind turbines ( One person just commented that ” at their tips they reach 60 m.p.h. ” ).

    Earlier someone who ” hated wind farms ” had admitted that whilst they still hated land based wind farms they now had a slightly different view of sea based ones. It was likely that the turbines were ” feathered ” ( stopped ) in the recent high winds so there never was a danger from ” whirling blades ” and as one person pointed out, Ospreys have pretty good eyesight so maybe they could spot the blades and avoid them even if they were turning.

    I myself  have a rather mixed view about wind turbines. In general I think they are a ” drop in the ocean ” in terms of electricity supply and probably environmentalists will be horrified to know that I support nuclear power as the way forward.

    However, a pub I own in North Wales ( the Glan yr Afon Inn, Holywell ) has benefited from the growth in the wind farm industry based out of Mostyn Docks on the North Wales coast and when you look out of The Glan over the River Dee and the approaches to Liverpool sometimes the glinting of the sun on the blades of the turbines actually looks quite beautiful.

    When the Osprey Project contacted Dong Energy and asked them to look out for Dulas they dutifully conducted a search of the platforms and support vessels but concluded that he had already left for France and eventually West Africa.

    How can you hate people like that ???

    You can follow the Dyfi Ospreys here:


    and on facebook here


    Dong Energy’s Gunfleet Wind Farm is here


    and Marubeni Corp is here


    U.K. Car Parts Industry continues to grow steadily

    Posted by Chris on September 12th, 2011

    I have friends and family in the car sales and parts industry and I guess if you had asked me to invest in this sector a few years ago I would probably have thought twice ( or more ! ) about doing so but I would have been  wrong 😉

    In 2009 and 2010 both the U.S. and the U.K. had ” Car Scrappage ” schemes ( ” Cash for Clunkers” in the U.S. !! ) in an effort to boost new car sales in the face of the recession.

    These appear to have boosted the existing trends and R.L. Polk & Co. of the U.S. says:

    “As vehicles age and consumers continue to
    hold onto them longer, there are significant opportunities for repair services and parts demand for the aftermarket as vehicles are falling out of warranty as they age,” said Mark Seng, vice president, sales and client services, aftermarket and commercial vehicle, at Polk. “The increased complexity of vehicle repairs also presents a business opportunity for service professionals as traditional do-it-yourself consumers are less likely to attempt complicated technical work on their vehicles.”
    Dealers will have an opportunity to develop programs geared toward service loyalty marketing as they seek to hold onto a growing base of customers, according to Polk. “The trends we’re seeing suggest great motivation for dealers seeking to maintain a longer-term relationship with their customers,” said Lonnie Miller, vice president, marketing and industry analysis, at Polk. “Service-oriented loyalty programs can significantly contribute to improving business and overall loyalty among customers,” he continued.
    Polk expects conditions facing the U.S. automotive industry today to remain through 2010 and expects trends for scrappage and vehicle ownership to continue for at least another year. This assessment is largely based on current industry dynamics, coupled with Polk’s annual forecast of a moderate increase in light vehicle sales to 11.5 million units this year. It also assumes a general upward trend for vehicle scrappage rates as high volumes of older vehicles continue to retire from the U.S. fleet. “
    ( I am assuming that the U.K. is following similar trends to the U.S. ).
    People are holding on to their cars and vans ( light vehicles ) longer ( 2004 – 8.6 years, 2010 – 10.2 years ) but also the scrappage percentage is rising ( from approx 5 to 6 % between 2005 and 2010 ) .
    ” These trends are supported by a number of factors, including the economy, limited financing and leasing options available in the market, extended warranties offered by OEMs, and improved vehicle durability and quality of vehicles. They also provide opportunity for various business segments of the industry” says Polk.
    Whilst the variations are considerable car parts come from one of two places and get fitted in one of two ways:
    They are either ( originally ) from a manufacturer ( either the ” original ” or ” Genuine ” one or an ” Aftermarket” or what is called in the ICT industry a ” compatible ” one ) or they have been ” recycled ” i.e. they are from a crashed or scrapped vehicle.
    The parts are fitted either by a garage/service provider or by an unqualified individual, likely to be the vehicle owner.
    Certainly the comment made by Polk about vehicle complexity is valid. Some faults cannot be identified and resolved without hi-tech ( expensive ) equipment and skilled operators.
    The ” route ” that the parts take between manufacture and fitting is varied. Broadly speaking, these days, there is an ” Internet route ” and a ” Physical route ” but there will often be a mixture of the two.
    For example the vehicle owner might go to a garage, who buys from a “distributer ” , who buys ( mainly ) from the manufacturer.
    The vehicle owner might do the work himself and obtain the part from an online website like eBay, a car parts provider/car breaker or a forum member.
    These might be viewed to be the ” extremes ” but there are very many permutations for the garage/service provider route and for the self repairer route.
    An individual could go to:
    – The Internet ( eBay, online parts company, breaker or forum )
    – A car breaker ( physically )
    – A general car parts provider ( a physical outlet )
    – A manufacturer’s dealer ( physical outlet )
    A garage/service provider could go to:
    – A car parts provider ( distributor )
    – A manufacturer dealer
    – The Internet ( as for an individual )
    As a generalisation ” older ” people might tend towards the ” physical routes ” whilst younger people might be more inclined toward the ” Internet ” routes.
    As younger, more Internet literate, people join dealers/service providers ( SP’s ) they will be more aware of the potential Internet based routes although they may be constrained by existing procedures from using these routes.
    Certainly younger people, doing their own repair work, are very likely to use the Internet route.
    Dealers/SP’s using the physical routes are likely to be marketed and sold to in a ” physical manner ” e.g. snailmail shots, telephone sales.
    However, it is clear that the Internet channel is getting more and more popular, utilised and sophisticated.
    A brief analysis via Google reveals the following:
    A Google search on ” Car Parts U.K. ” gives 1st page results as follows:
    Paid search ( Pay per Click / Google Adwords )
    1. Euro Car Parts ( ECP, Genuine and Aftermarket parts online or physical sies )

    2. 1st Choice spares ( New – Genuine and Aftermarket – and Recycled, online only ? )

    3. CPR ( New and recycled, online ? )
    4. Comline ( New, online )
    5. Find a part ( New, online )
    6. Express Car Parts ( New, online )
    Organic ( Free ) Search
    1. ECP
    2. 247 ( New, online )
    3. carparts-uk ( New, online )
    4. carpartsdirect ( New,online )
    5. 1st Choice
    6. Breakeryard ( New,Recycled, online )
    A Google search on ” LandRover Clutch parts ” gives 1st page results:
    Paid Search
    1. ECP
    2. EH Douglas ( Servicing/Repairs )
    3. jgs4x4 ( New – Genuine and Aftermarket )
    4. Rimmer Bros.
    Organic/Free Search
    1. Brookwell.co.uk ( New – Gen. and Amarket )
    2. Rimmer
    3. FamousFour ( New and Used )
    4. landroverspares.co.uk ( Buckley bros. ) ( New Gen. & Aftermarket )
    5. eBay
    N.B. ECP has presence across both searches, ( the only one ), paid and organic – very strong Internet presence. 1st Choice also appears in paid and organic search for car parts uk search.
    Quite clearly some ” physical ” based companies have some work to do in terms of Internet presence.
    The trends for people keeping their cars longer will undoubtedly lead to continuing demand for spare parts – new and recycled. It appears that supply for both new ( original and aftermarket  ) and recycled will also continue. New and recycled prices may trend down with competition and manufacturing efficiencies ( more research required ).

    The perks of having a Social Media network increase

    Posted by Chris on September 10th, 2011

    Recently I was talking with a mutual friend of mine and  Thomas Power ( who has a huge Social Media network ) and he told me that Thomas had recently checked into a hotel in the U.S. and was told that he had been upgraded to a suite following hotel staff doing a check of Thomas’s “social media influence”. The suite included free use of a computer and the Internet. Thomas had all he needed to tell his online networks about his suite and the way he had been looked after by the hotel group’s staff.

    This blog on The Next Web


    talks about the way that Bal Harbour Shops ( http://www.balharbourshops.com/ ) had conducted a social media campaign that culminated in a ” Fashion Night Out Event which was limited to people with a ” Klout score ” of 40 or higher.

    This meant that people attending the party had to have a significant social media network and influence.

    My Klout score is around 53.  The people that I follow ( on Twitter ) with the highest Klout score include celebrities like Lady GaGa ( KS of 92 ), Kim Kardashian ( 91 ) and Britney Spears ( 87 ); News networks like Breaking News ( 89 ) and CNN ( 87 ) and the people who have created huge numbers of followers and friends in their networks like Chris Pirillo ( 87 ), Jay Wilkinson ( 86 ) and Guy Kawasaki ( 86 ). These latter are typically entrepreneurs and marketing people.

    Why a Klout score of 40 or above ??

    Christopher Renz, Agency Director at The brpr Group ( who ran the campaign ) , has this to say on the matter:

    “A Klout score of at least 40 ensures that only the most socially engaged will be in attendance and as a direct result will tweet, check in on Foursquare and post photos on Facebook to their friends and followers, creating a real‐time digital echo for FNO at Bal Harbour Shops”

    Why set the bar at 40 ??

    ” We originally thought 50, but we contacted Klout to ask their opinion and they mentioned that the average score is well below 40, so beginning it there would give a good mix of those who are just building their networks and the long-time enthusiasts.”

    I first started building my social media networks with www.ecademy.com in about 2006 followed by Linkedin and facebook.

    Anybody ” ordinary ” that has built an ” online network ” ( via email and social and business networks ) knows how much work and time goes into it . Basically you don’t get to have a Klout score of 40 or above without having put considerable effort into doing so. For celebrities it sort of depends on how popular they are. For news channels – how well they provide up to date, well researched and informative news.

    Were Bal Harbour and The brpr Group happy with the event ??

    CR: We got a great response from the invite. Bal Harbour Shops is thought of as older and stuffier and so people were very surprised (and sometimes upset) about the Lounge. A competing Fashion’s Night Out venue tweeted to us offended that they wouldn’t be able to get into the lounge if they attended.

    We had a Miami Dolphins player, Alonzo & Tracy Mourning (ex Heat player) Deborah Cox RSVP’d, Brooke Hogan RSVP’d and then went to LA at the last minute. DJ Irie and some Telemundo/Univision talent (it is Miami after all).

    and how did Bal Harbour’s clients and guests feel about the use of Klout scores ??

    CR: They were very happy with the turnout and the number of people who tweeted and buzzed about the lounge even before Fashion’s Night Out.  They also loved that their own Klout score went from a 38 a week before the event to a 54 on the night of FNO.

    So, there were a number of effects:

    – Some ( positive ) shift in the brand identity

    – An increase in Bal Harbour’s Klout score ( influence, reach, amplification )

    – Controversy

    – Lots of Word of Mouth and ” Social Media Buzz “.

    and this is what people like  Bal Harbour and the Hotel chain want.

    Fastnet 1979 – Condor of Bermuda – Chris Windley – The Deadliest Yacht Race

    Posted by Chris on September 6th, 2011

    The “Storm” Fastnet Race, 1979: Racing with Sir Peter Blake on Condor of Bermuda.

    by Chris Windley.

    As the smoke rose from the cannon, four of us strained at the linked coffee grinders that drove the drum holding the genoa sheet. It was as though we were winding the boat up to be released across the starting line.

    Owing to Peter’s expert manoeuvering, the seventy eight feet of varnished African mahogany that was the hull of Condor of Bermuda crossed the line at the windward end, ahead and above of our rival Kialoa, one of the fastest maxi-raters in the world. In this position we were in control and she would have to fight hard to get through us.

    We headed towards the spectator lined shore of Cowes and Kialoa began to employ subterfuge, using thier cunning and knowledge of the rules and tactics to trick us into a mistake.

    This continued as we beat our way towards the Needles with long sweeping tacks. We began to sail through the smaller yachts who were short tacking along the island shore in the main stream of the tide. It was better for us to take longer tacks, reducing the number of times that we should have to go about. Every second not sailing forward was time lost and handling thousands of square feet of sail from one side of the boat to the other took time.

    Peter had the helm over and slowly Condor turned. Auntie began to slip the genoa sheet; we stood poised, our hands gripping the handles of the coffee grinders, thumbs held tight into the forefinger; they never went the other side of the handle in case something went wrong and the drum began to drive the handles in the opposite direction taking our thumbs with them.

    Auntie removed a turn and slipped the sheet, then another as the sail backed and finally threw all the turns of wire off. Those of the crew tending the centre coffee grinders and the bank of winches around the mast dived to the deck and into the wells to escape the snaking whip that was the wire genoa sheet.

    On the after coffee grinders we ground so fast that our chests began to burst and we strove to keep up with the handles that seemed to be going faster than the fastest you could drive them. The weight of the huge sail was felt and we changed gear then fought to get the sail in as though our lives depended on it.

    We almost made it but had to change to third gear for the last, muscle straining inches. “Good Tack” encouraged the tailor. Four fresh grinders arrived to take our places and we went forward to sit on the weather deck; even in our exhaustion usefully employed as ballast.

    So far we had managed to hold Kialoa. Condor was built for the 1977 Whitbread Round the World Race. As such she was of heavier construction than Kialoa. Also Condor’s bow section was fuller than Kialoa’s and this tended to stop her in short, sharp seas. Previously, when the two yachts had met in America, Condor had not been able to beat Kialoa but with the addition of a taller mast giving 10% more sail area and the changes to the stern Condor had shown in the Channel Race and inshore races of Cowes Week that she could hold and beat Kialoa. The Fastnet race was to be the confirmation of this – or not. Condor had a crew of twenty, half of whom were Kiwi’s, who were the permanent crew of the yacht and the remainder were British sailors brought on specially for the race.

    The yacht was skippered by Peter Blake, who was the yacht’s permanent skipper and who had sailed around the world in her as mate during the Whitbread. The navigator was Andrew “Spud” Spedding, co-author of the book “Sod’s Law of the Sea” and a character fitted to write such a book as this.

    Having held Kialoa tack for tack, we lost her when , whilst going about, the genoa sheet caught under a spinnaker pole. We were feet from the shore when it happened, having just tacked away. There was nothing for it but to go back onto the original tack and free the sheet, despite the danger of hitting rocks. The time it took us to disentangle ourselves allowed Kialoa to get ahead and she lead us out of the narrow Needles Channel.

    At 16.20 we were at the Needles fairway buoy. the diaphone droning monotonously, completely unaffected by the hundreds of yachts that were thrashing by. Here a decision had to be made. We had to beat Kialoa who wa tacking towards the mainland shore at that moment. We probably would not do it by following her. Ahead was Portland Bill; when we reached it the tide would be squeezing around it against us at a greater rate than out in mid Channel. Would the wind hold inshore? Would it be greater offshore? The decision made we tacked out. The wind was lighter and we changed to the medium No1 genoa.

    We had different genoa’s for set ranges of wind strength from winds as light as breath to hurricanes. The choice of sail called for experience and a critical eye. The medium No1 was set but it did not look nice and we were not moving well. We changed back to the No1 Heavy, not really the right wind range for it but it set better.

    The Executive, as Geoff was nicknamed, called the sail trim, shouting for changes in halliard tension, sheet tension, sheeting angle, mainsail track position, pumping “the hydraulics” – the backstay; babystay; kicker – minute adjustments that made the difference between win and lose.

    By now the crew had been split into 2 watches of 8: we would work 4 hours on and 4 off for the rest of the race. The off watch went below; the prudent ones straight to thier bunks; the windward ones of course. Just because you are asleep that’s no reason to stop working for more boat speed!! all the windward bunks were full, so we slept on the sails that had been brought from the sail locker forward and piled amidships. All possible weight must be removed from the ends of the yacht where it exerted a turning moment about the centre of gravity.

    At 19.22 we were 10 miles SW of St Albans Head, steering a South Westerly course. The oncoming watch ate thier evening meal, prepared by Margaret, who was the permanent cook. here the energy was provided that enabled the crew to go on deck and spend 4 hours driving the boat. It was imperative that the food supply never dried up no matter what the conditions.

    At 0300 the Channel Light vessel was abeam. At 0500 we sailed into fog. The radar reflector was hoisted and the fog horn placed near to hand. Minds that had been concentrating on sailing the boat must sacrifice a few moments whilst senses were employed to search for signs of other vessels; watching, listening, even smelling. At 0845, 5 miles SE of Eddystone and we put in a couple of 20 mile tacks that brought us 3 miles due South of Black Head. the visibility by this time was 25 yards. Though we heard shiping from time to time we never saw anything. In the nav room Spud pored over his charts; trying to make his RDF bearings and his DR tie in. He was surrounded by cabinets of electronics that could give him his position to a matter of metres almost instantly but which he was not allowed to use under the rules of the race. Satellite Navigation;Omega;Loran Charlie – all useless. His only modern nav aid was RDF. Unable to take bearings from the nav room he took it on deck – the only one allowed to take his weight forward of the mast when we were not changing sails.

    The fog began to lift. Peter, ever watchful and experienced, appeared with the sextant. The sextant sight and DF bearings gave the semblance of a position. At 1605 we estimated that we were 3 miles South of the Lizard. the fog lifted further and, amazingly, we sighted Kialoa South and ahead of us by about a mile. In the Channel Race we had raced within sight of her for 200 miles before losing her in the unpredictable winds of the Solent. Now, it appeared, the Fastnet Race was going to be the same. Kialoa cleared the Lizard whilst we had to tack.

    The forecast at 1750 had predicted that the wind, which was Westerly 3/4, would veer to the North West then back to the South increasing to 5/6. At 1945 Seven Stones were abeam and we steered a course slightly to Windward ie South of the Rhumb line. The sea was lumpy and the waves knocked down the boats speed as Condor’s bluff bows fell on them. We started with a reacher and staysail and then changed to the No 1 Heavy; then, as we neared the rock, the “Pastry Cook” chute – a big yellow 3/4 oz with a “budgie” (ie a condor) on it. We strived for more speed but were frusttrated by the waves and knew that we were not going well. Spud continued to navigate by DF, DR and sextant. Near to the Rock he homed in on Mizzen Head beacon which was now behind the Rock. We saw one yacht ahead and North of us that we assumed was Kialoa. Auntie had another nickname of “Hawkeye”. He said it was Kialoa and nobody else could see it to argue.

    As we neared the Rock we dropped the chute and put up the reacher and staysail. We rounded the Rock at 1355. At this time we estimated Kialoa to be 1 hour ahead. the wind had freshened by the time we had rounded the Rock and was on the opposite beam ie starboard tack. The barometer was dropping and the low was obviously approaching. Once again we headed South of the Rhumb line to the Scillies.

    We now began to work our way down through the whole range of sails. The wind began to gradually increase and veer, which freed us off slightly, but the relative wind was always about 40 degrees on the starboard bow. My watch was off but I lay awake feeling that another sail change was due. “All hands on deck”. The call came almost as a relief.

    We struggled into our oilskins and climbed into the cockpit. 60 feet away in front of us the on watch were struggling with the reacher. The oncoming watch always remained aft, where possible, and gradually accustomed thier eyes to the dark. One or two manned the coffe grinders; others helped to drag the old sail aft along the winward deck where it could be bagged in the centre of the boat into its sausage then left lying along the windward rail to reduce heel. It had another very important function which was to provide a comfortable seat for the on watch. the number 2 was trimmed to its most efficient setting then we went below. There was to be no rest this night and we knew it.

    I clambered into my bunk with my oilskin trousers around my knees and sea boots still on and waited. The motion began to change. The seas were building up. I pulled the sleeping bag over my head to stop the dripping water from landing on me. Again the call came and we changed to the number 3. We had been too slow in getting up on deck for the last change and this time slept in full oilskins. Mine leaked, treasured from a past Round the World Race, they had served thier time long ago and the water soaked through. Again the call; I swore freely as i clambered over the sails, by now also soaking wet. Water sloshed about near the galley. This was the number 4. The reefs in the mainsail that accompany a change in the headsail to balance the boat had been put in by the on wtahc. By now the wind was howling 40 to 50 knots. Two more changes came, Peter making the decisions as though someone was whispering in his ear of the impending increase in strength. “That was just in time” he said, as the boat took off under the impact of over 60 knots of wind. We carried a storm jib and two reefs in the main. We huddled together on the windward deck sitting on what was, by now, a pile of 3 sails. We were clipped on by our safety harnesses. I sat looking at the wind guage and dumbly registered the times the needle went lower than 60 knots, which was the maximum it showed. We held on while Condor hurtled through the night at 12 knots, leaping off the waves and crashing into others, sending plumes of spray into the air to be whipped aside by the wind and cast hissing to leeward. The power was staggering. The sea threw water down our necks and occassionally the water that swept over the deck threatened to dislodge us and take us with it into the sea.

    Below, Spud had wedged himself into the nav room, which was awash. He was speking to Lands End radio, relaying positions of yachts that were in distress. We had seen very few yachts on the way back from the Fastnet; a couple of Admirals Cup boats; a yellow trimaran which we had waved to cherrfully; in the night a yacht hove to on starboard tack. Auntie had seen distress flares astern and to the North and Spud had been speaking to some of the yachts. Some were having a very hard time of it; rudders broken; masts lost; capsized, it was chaos. Spud was keeping a listening watch out for three of the yachts aswell as navigating Condor. Our powerful transmitter and well positioned aerial gave us a good range even in this weather. We were about 38 miles from the nearest yacht and at that time she was not in immediate danger. On deck we sighted the Bishops Rock Light ahead and slightly to port. Spud had done a truly magnificent job. He ended his radio relaying service at 05.00 having been on there since 00.30

    At 0400 I came off watch and collapsed on the sails exhausted, cold and wet. While I was below we rounded Bishops Rock, a mile inside Pole Bank Overfalls. We had no idea where Kialoa was. Mistress Quickly, another maxi rater had come up on the radio and we knew that she was way astern but Kialoa had remained silent. At this time we reckoned that the wave height was about 20 to 25 feet and it was still blowing 50 to 60 knots.

    Once again we were called on deck as we bore away for the Lizard. It was almost a dead run and we poled out the number 5. This involved running the genoa sheet through the end of the spinnaker boom. Setting up the pole was a tricky business as we rolled downwind. At least the apparent wind was less than it had been before.

    Communication was vitally important on a boat this size, although in fact experience was even better. If you knew what to do and when to do it then it did not matter that you could not hear what Andy was saying 70 feet away. We continued under this rig for a while but gradually the wind began to decrease. The waves were still huge and we were carried along by them, surfing at 16 or 17 knots. However, the boat felt underpowered. We had about 25 knots of apparent wiind and we all knew that there was only one thing for it – we had to go to a chute (spinnaker).

    There are a lot of offshore sailors who don’t even know how to put up a chute on a yacht and they would certainly have never imagined that you could fly one in 40 or 50 knots of true wind. Peter had sailed this boat around the world and knew it probably better than anyone else. At the beginning of the race he was worried about our new mast but he was now confident that it would stay up. There was a record at stake and nobody ever broke records who did not take (calculated) risks.

    We were going to fly the 2.2oz. Each member of the crew moved around the decks preparing and checking and checking again. Meanwhile Condor acreered along under main alone eager for more canvas. Peter guided her down the waves, his eyes roving over the deck checking what had already been checked before, weighing up the risks, calling on all his experience.

    We needed more speed.

    Finally, the chute was ready in its three legged bag that prevented it from filling until required. I gripped the halliard, looked toward Peter for the final, purposeful nod and then pulled like a maniac to get it to the top of the towering mast. Dennis came up to help help on the last few feet and we sweated up the halliard as sailors have done since the days of the square riggers.

    A line led up to the centre of the star shape that star shape that hung innocently from the mast. The two Andy’s tugged on it; it would not come. Take in on the sheet, more, more – Bang!!, the bag opned and suddenly there was the spinnaker, straining to pull the mast out of the deck. Condor accelerated instantly like a jet with its brakes just released. Sheet!! Sheet!! The sail had to be flat. Now she was going !! We grinned at each other like naughty children. He must be mad – but what exhileration; adrenalin coursed through our veins. Now she used the waves. They towered high astern, flecked with foam, lifted up the transom, pointing the bow down into the chasm that was the trough of the wave. Then she began her mad slide like a big dipper. The bow wave grew higher and higher and moved aft until it was higher than the boom. Astern grew a cockerels tail 4 foot high.

    The digital speedometer went through 10 knots and began to count again; through 10 knot again and on and on until it reached 9.5 knots. A total of 29.5 knots. Crossbow here we come !! Where is Beken now !!

    A sound like a rifle shot brought us back to reality. The block that the spinnaker sheet turned around on the starboard quarter had exploded. Les had his leg in the path of the released rope as it ripped through six feet of stanchions as though they were not even there. He could easily have lost his leg. Luckily he did not but he limped in memory of his close call for days after. “Get the guy in” I shouted but this crew were faster than the time that it took for somebody to tell them what to do and already the grinders were grinding in the lazy guy. Gradually we got the spinnaker under comtrol again and breathed a sigh of relief. Our hearts pounded.

    Once more the wild surfing began. Spud had given up navigating. The miles flashed by. When would we be there ?? Very, very soon !!

    “Look out everyone, she’s going” What now?? I sat by the centre coffe grinders. If she broaches, I thought, I’ll hang on to these. My expensive oilskin with it’s built in safety harness lay on the deck. The safety harness clipped to a wire and protecting the jacket from going anywhere!! It was too late for it now. Slowly, reluctantly, accepting the power of the sea over her Condor swung around into the wind, heeling more and more.

    Pray to every god you have ever heard of and hang on !! Beam onto the sea and the wind, she was flattened.

    If it had been my Lazer I would have climbed over the windward side and stood on the centre board. If only it was that easy. I ended up sitting on the coffee grinders, which were now horizontal, looking down at the, amazingly calm, sea. Slowly she began to right herself. Then the spinnaker went aback and she went astern. Peter said at 3 knots. The oncoming waves finally halted her (Peter had steered her around in an arc). The spinnaker half filled, obstinately refusing to set. For endless seconds Peter juggled with the wheel, coaxing and understanding. Suddenly the chute filled with a crack and we were off again. Everything was all right. We had not lost anybody.

    Were we insane?? The exhileration was draining. A three point turn in a 78 footer with a spinnaker up in 45 knots of breeze. “If that happens again we’ll have to get it off” said Peter. We laughed uncertainly.

    Then, sliding down a wave, we caught up with the one in front. The bow buried itself into the sea. I reached for my favourite coffe grinder and put a lover’s grip on it. The sea foamed up over the foredeck, past the mast, over me and I then did not know how far behind. Deeper and deeper she buried. Then we were on our beam ends again and she was coming up, shaking off the water, undefeated, her mast still standing erect. Again the spinnaker filled and we careered away. “Get it off” Peter said “enough is enough”.

    Plymouth was in sight. We changed to the reacher poled out with the staysail set inside. We were still flying. Where was Kialoa ?? Were we in the lead ?? We could be. We just could be.

    Spud was worried that we could be heading for Fowey instead of Plymouth. Come on Spud, we know it’s Plymouth. He went down to speak to Race Control on the radio. After a few minutes he appeared at the hatch. “There are no other yachts in” he said simply. We’d done it. We only had to get to the line. We wanted to get rid of the staysail. Come on Peter, let get it off. A boomed out headsail is a tricky thing to get down and we were heading for the breakwater at a vast rate of knots. We looked pleadingly at him. Finally, he gave the word. As we began to get it down a last vicious gust swept across the sea, ripping the flogging sail from our hands. The breakwater loomed ominously close as we struggled to get it on board. Finally we overpowered it and seconds later flashed through the breakwater.

    Where was the finishing line ?? Andy was on the bow, ready to take the time of crossing. Spud went up and sent him back aft for something. Bang!! The gun went. “Ha Ha” yelled Spud ” I was first across the line !!”. One and a half hours sleep in three days and the guy was still making jokes!

    We yelled and and danced, shook hands and slapped backs and laughed and smiled. Line Honours – The Record – beaten Kialoa. Perhaps even first on handicap. We put it all aside and began to stow the sails. Our time – 71 Hours 37 Minutes and 23 Seconds. We had beaten the previous record by over seven hours.

    File:Condor of Bermuda at Kangaroo Point 2007.JPG

    More info on 1979 Fastnet and Condor of Bermuda.




    Copyright © 2007 M & A Rainmaker. All rights reserved.