BNI Gateway To Business

Members' Articles

Museum lighting gradually discolouring Van Gogh

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

21st January 2013

Post Type: Education Item

Vincent Van Gogh associated the colour yellow with happiness, making it central to some of his most famous works including his iconic 1887 ‘Vase with Sunflowers’.  The yellow pigment he used – chrome yellow – employed lead chromate to produce a range of yellows.  It was also used extensively by his peers Gauguin and Cézanne .  Whereas basic chrome yellow remains stable under most forms of lighting, the higher sulphur variants preferred by van Gogh (such as the more vivid ‘Primrose yellow’ and ‘Lemon yellow’) appear to discolour rapidly under modern illumination.  Museum curators first noticed a colour degradation, prompting x-ray analysis of 14 major 19th century paintings.  This confirmed that the high-sulphur yellows were turning green-brown.  Researchers suggest that the blue component of high-intensity ‘daylight’ led bulbs are to blame, and it is likely that major impressionist art will be analysed for the “at risk” versions of chrome yellow – and lit accordingly.  More detailed technical information can be found here and here.


Coaching Dynamics' accolade from client MD regarding coaching through acquisition for growth

by Tina Dulieu from Coaching Dynamics: Tina Dulieu, B.Ed., Dip CEC

16th January 2013

Post Type: Other

BranWell Ford has worked with Tina for a period of 12 months, and in
this time, the workforce has grown by 50%. 

We initially engaged with Tina as the Directors were feeling a little
jaded with running a company for 10 years and seeing through a tough economic
downturn.  After an initial session, Tina gave honest feedback on the
business and then provided full support to assist with changing the direction
of the firm, including the leadership style and providing support to the
Directors to assist with implementing change.  The results have been
tremendous, with the acquisition of a new firm and employment of 6 new staff,
which is a result of Tina instilling confidence in our decision making. 
Tina has been fundamental in streamlining procedures, improving efficiencies
and has conducted DISC profiling on the entire workforce to improve team
building and developing internal relationships. 

 I have absolutely no hesitation
in recommending Tina’s knowledge and experience as an independent business
partner, her style is professional, challenges the thought process and is very
effective.

Pip Sanford, MD
BranWell Ford Associates Ltd
Law Consultants (BWF) Ltd
www.branwellford.co.uk
www.lawconsultants.co.uk


How much web page text is required to please Google?

by Simon Thomas from Toucan Internet LLP

07th January 2013

Post Type: New Member Article

Having been optimising websites for greater search engine performance, whilst giving a quality visitor experience since the turn of the millennium, Toucan Internet has always favoured including text of reasonable quality and in modest quantity.

Reasonable quality in that it must be well written English, relevant to the subject, contain the researched keywords to an adequate frequency and be cross-linked within the whole website, or websites should the enterprise operate multiple websites.

Quantity is always an interesting balance between satisfying two masters:

  • the human master needs to be provided sufficient text so that the reader gets adequate information but without presenting them with a wall of words and without flooding the creative design underpinning the visual attractiveness of your site.
  • the search engines and Internet directories master that will drive large numbers of relevant visitors and customers to your site if it’s done properly. When developing websites that need good search engine returns we’ve always considered minimal text content to be a poor choice; after all Google and the other search engines read the words to classify your site so that they can recommend it to others and if you provide either too little content, or content with insufficient focus for that matter, the search engines will not be able to adequately index your site. As a consequence it will not rate or perform highly.

The big question is “what is the right amount of content”. The simple answer is that from page to page in your website there really is no hard and fast rule as some pages will require masses of content and others quite a minimal amount to be fit for purpose. However we’ve found from many years of online marketing experience that the bare minimum to get noticed to any sensible degree is 100 words, however if it’s practical get this above 300 words.

This recently published article lends weight to the argument that it’s good practice to give Google as much relevant content as you can practically include - http://www.sitepronews.com/2012/12/09/googles-stance-on-content-length/

 


About the Author.

This article was written by Simon Thomas of Toucan Internet LLP who has been active on the Internet since 1995 and runs a number of commercially successful Internet projects. Toucan supports client’s web build to the correct standards, not just SEO, and maintains on-going search engine marketing for clients that value high performing websites.

For more information.

t: 01279 871 694
e: simon@toucanweb.co.uk
w: www.toucanweb.co.uk

Copyright Toucan Internet LLP 2013©. All rights reserved.

 

 


Avoid mobile phone bill shock

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

02nd January 2013

Post Type: Education Item

A recent Ofcom report suggested that 1.4m mobile phone customers have received an unexpectedly high bill mobile phone in the previous 6 months - a phenomenon termed “bill shock”.

Domestic call costs are generally included in a monthly ‘bundle’.  Unexpectedly high bills are usually due to data downloads and holiday roaming charges.  Roaming charges are incurred when a using a handset in an area where the home network provider has no coverage.  In America this situation can occur within the mainland – in Europe it generally occurs when crossing national borders.  The ‘foreign’ network provider passes charges to the domestic network provider, who passes the cost to the subscriber.  Often the opacity of this process and lack of detail make it impossible to challenge or refute the charges.

The EU has been actively targeting mobile phone roaming charges since 2007.  The 2010 ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’ declared the intention to reduce roaming charges to domestic levels by 2015.  Since 2010 operators have been obliged to cap a user’s monthly bill at €50 whilst roaming within the EU, and notify users when they have reached 80% and then 100% of that figure.  In 2011 roaming call charges were capped at €0.35 per minute and €0.11 for texts.  Users also receive an SMS when entering a new country, advising them of likely charges.  However, the lack of any cap on roaming data charges meant that the €50 ceiling could easily be reached by modest internet usage alone.

The EU’s Industry, Telecommunications, Research and Energy Committee (‘ITRE’) recently voted overwhelmingly in favour of cutting roaming call charges to €0.15 per minute and text charges to € 0.05 by June 2014.  For the first time the committee set maximum data roaming charges, of € 0.20 per megabyte.  The ITRE also recommended that foreign data roaming charges should only be incurred if the subscriber has explicitly requested overseas data access from their service provider.  These measures still require EU parliamentary approval before becoming enforceable.

Non- EU roaming charges are unaffected by the above measures and can be considerable – in some cases £10 per MB of data.  Before foreign travel, consider the following options:

Turning of the handset’s data roaming and data synchronisation.  Carefully follow the user guide instructions as this process is often confusing, or contact your network provider for advice.  Even when ‘data roaming’ is off, various apps can continue to access the internet and in extreme cases even reinstate data roaming.  Aggrieved stories from the internet suggest that even switching the handset to ‘airplane mode’ might not offer protection.

Using free wi-fi access wherever possible.  Install Skype or a similar system to make free calls.

Contacting your network provider and obtaining an unlock code for your phone.  This might be chargeable.  Once unlocked, your handset should accept a pre-paid SIM card purchased at your destination.  Be aware however that your domestic network provider will still invoice your normal monthly bundle charges.

Blackberrys can compress data better than most other handsets, reducing data usage.  Being business-orientated in nature, Blackberrys generally lack the content-rich/data hungry apps of other smartphones.

Purchasing a data roaming bundle from your network provider – possibly the best option for frequent travellers.


School leasing

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

10th December 2012

Post Type: Education Item

School leasing

05 Dec 2012 | Filed under: Education, Leasing / financing

The Sept 24th edition of BBC Panorama covered the activities of two Hertfordshire companies who supplied 169 schools with equipment such as photocopiers and laptops.  The equipment was actually sold to banks or leasing companies, who then leased the equipment back to each school.  The sale price of the equipment was up to 20 times its actual value but the schools were assured that, under a promotional deal, the equipment vendors would supplement the lease repayments. The schools signed lease documents in the expectation that the leasing costs would be heavily subsidised or even free.

After making a number of lease payments the two suppliers went into administration and ceased payments.  The schools, as lessee, remained wholly legally liable for the loans.  The burden of this brought some schools near to closure and the fallout claimed 10 head teacher’s jobs, some after a 30 year career.

Legal recourse is limited unless the terms of the agreement were provably misrepresented.  Whilst state maintained schools might theoretically argue that its staff acted “ultra vires”, or beyond their powers, this course might have ruinous implications for the staff who signed the contracts.  Academy schools have little protection outside of misrepresentation as they are regarded as possessing the appropriate financial competence.

Margaret Hodge, chairing the 82nd Public Accounts Select Committee earlier this year singled out school spending as an area of concern, saying:

“…we remain very concerned at the weakness of the proposed arrangements to ensure accountability for value for money……the specific responsibilities of each for achieving value for money and how they are to interact to secure value for money across the entire education system remain unclear.

This is particularly important as money becomes tighter.…. one in four local authorities stating that only a few of their primary schools enjoyed governing bodies with sufficient, appropriate financial expertise”.

Auditel have a proven track record in ensuring schools receive value for money.  Examples can be found here.