Monthly Archives: June 2011

Phone call alternatives: FriendCaller review [very bad]. 1899.com review [Good, again]. Skype review. Google Voice UK review [good]. JahJah review…

A review of alternatives to BT and its charges.

 If you’re not on a special plan with BT [or other providers such as TalkTalk, which is heavily tainted by its appalling record on customer service and service provision] and want to reduce your phone call costs from a landline, read on.

FriendCaller [the pay for calls part of the service] – don’t touch this voip offering. For this reviewer it has only worked ‘properly’ once.  99% of the time is has crashed the call very soon after starting it. My account still has most of my upfront money in it. I’d like it back, Mr FriendCaller.  So far, a disaster. And on Facebook, it appears to be controlled by a games company; is that trying [and easily succeeding?] to get users’ personal and other details?  Thumbs totally down, for a host of reasons. Even with a new, expensive  router, optimised for voip calls – it doesn’t work for me. Oh and on Facebook my queries and comments were removed from the FriendCaller wall. I wonder why…

1899.com  Update of  August 16th 2011 – the service improved in July and has stayed good.  If the quality of service remains good,  it will have earned real brownie points. I’ll give it  10/10 or 9/10

1899 is a standard phone service [i.e. doesn’t use any voip at all]. It bulk-buys time/space from the likes of BT/international carriers. By dialling 1899 before you call a landline number, the call is low cost – for calls in the UK, just 5p connection then free.

Skype. You could try Skype Out, but in June 2011 the system was crashing and, anyway, if you are on a wonky or busy connection, it doesn’t always work.  Thumbs more than half down, at present, which is a shame. But there you go!  Bye bye, Skype. PS, oddly…its pay as you go service was good. When I went on to the el cheapo monthly sub – bang! Poor.

Google Voice [GV].  A fantastic voip offering – fully faultless, when it worked in the UK. Now [June 2011]  it doesn’t. Update: as of August 2011, Google Voice has officially been launched in the UK and the voice quality is as crisp and clear as ever.  10/10.  

JaJah. Good [has the potential to be excellent], but charges even if the call isn’t answered. Tut tut.  AND  – calling a mobile number is very expensive – much more than BT.  JaJah is a hybrid; you initiate your call from a computer but then use your phone for the call. What JaJah is doing is using voip for part of the call, but delivering the last leg of it not via broadband or dial up.  i.e. the last leg is not affected by how wonky or hyper busy your broadband connection is.

Meanwhile…a word about TalkTalk. You pay £11 or £12 a month for “free” calls but still end up with bills up to double that or more.  And, when things go wrong, they really do.  Among some customers, the company has an appalling record in service provision and customer service.  So, it’s thumbs well down. One day the firm might get its act together, but on historical performance, it won’t.

Sipgate – I’d like to try it and may do so, but it’s another voip service and do I really want to give another £10, dollars or euros [and my credit card details] to another voip service? On hold. Might. Might not.

Conclusion: If you’re stuck, there’s always BT. But now that Google Voice [GV] is back in the UK – hurrah…but 1899 will often be cheaper – that depends on how many minutes you call a landline for.  But GV is cheaper for calling mobiles – just 7p a minute.   Skype needs a re-think or has it had one by  now.  FriendCaller is 99% poor and owes me money.  TalkTalk – don’t trust it.

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CfSD announces programme for its annual Conference on Sustainable Innovation & Design – October 24-25 2011 and now in its 16th year

June 13th 2011, Farnham, Surrey, UK. The Centre for Sustainable Design [CfSD], founded in 1995 under the stewardship of internationally renowned “green” innovationconsultant, author and speaker Martin Charter, has announced its 16th annual conference in the Sustainable Innovation series – “Sustainable Innovation & Design” – and the chair for day one is the BBC World News presenter David Eades.

The conference runs from October 24-25 2011, at Farnham Castle, Farnham, Surrey, UK, and also lined up is Oliver Heath, the “green” specialist on BBC TV’s Changing Rooms. Oliver, who is also the Founder of EcoCentric and Director of Heath Design Ltd, opens the first day’s proceedings and will be a keynote speaker.

Other keynote speakers on day one are Dr Richard Miller, Head of Sustainability, Technology Strategy Board (TSB), Professor Fred Steward, Policy Studies Institute.

In addition Tomoo Machiba, Senior Consultant, Organisation of Economic, Cooperation & Development (OECD), France Michal Miedzinski, Senior Consultant, Technopolis, Belgium, will separately discuss eco-innovation. Jacquie Ottman, Founder and CEO, J. Ottman Consulting, US, will look at “Marketing and Sustainable Innovation” and will also be signing copies of her new book – “The New Rules of Green Marketing” – at the conference. Michael Kuhndt, Head of Centre, UNEP/Wuppertal Institute Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), Germany, will focus on “Niche to Mass Market: Strategies for Sustainable Consumption”.

Day one also sees the presentation of two case studies – “Belu water”, by Reed Paget, CEO, One Earth Innovation, and “Tesco – Re-use New Business Model”, by Mark Griffiths, Partner, SecondNature. In addition, there will be a panel on “Sustainable Innovation and Design I: Planning and Implementation”.

Day two will be chaired by Lawrence Bloom, Chairman, B.e Energy, UK/Canada and will look at (i) “Doing More With Less: Linking Design for Sustainability with Corporate Competitiveness in a Smaller World”, with Bruce Piasecki, President & Founder, AHG Group Inc, US (ii) “Sustainability, Innovation and Supply Chains”, with Shaun McCarthy, Director, Action Sustainability, UK (iii) “Social (sustainable) Innovation”, with Trudy Thompson, Founder, Bricks and Bread, UK.

There will also be a panel discussion on “Sustainable Innovation & Design II: Tools and Techniques”.

Full details of each days’ panel and itineraries are at

http://www.cfsd.org.uk/events/tspd16/

“CfSD’s “Sustainable Innovation” series of annual conferences has run unbroken since the first in 1995,” says Charter, CfSD’s director. “It is still the only one of its kind and this year we again have a great line up of speakers, panel members and other participators and subject matter. Booking early for a place is advisable.”

About CfSD

The Centre for Sustainable Design (CfSD) was established in 1995 at University for the Creative Arts http://www.ucreative.ac.uk The Centre provides a range of services focused on “product sustainability” and “sustainable innovation” issues: research; training; consultancy; and events. CfSD organises the “Sustainable Innovation” series of international conferences, now in its 16th year – see http://www.cfsd.org.uk/events/tspd16

More information on The Centre for Sustainable Design

http://www.cfsd.org.uk

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Note to the press: for further information please contact:

Martin Charter, Director, The Centre for Sustainable Design, University for the Creative Arts T: 01252-892772 E: mcharter@ucreative.ac.uk

Or Paul Whitehead, Western Associates PR http://www.western-pr.com T: 01403 711177 E: paul@western-pr.com

Dinamiks Ltd appoints HR Solutions as a channel partner

Chichester, June 8th 2011.   Dinamiks Ltd has appointed Kettering and London based HR Solutions (Consultancy) Ltd (trading as HR Solutions) as a channel partner for its web-based employee performance and talent management solution, Dinamiks.

The appointment enables HR Solutions – now in its 10th year – to expand its offerings to its regional, national and international client base while staying true to its long-held focus on excellent customer service.

Says HR Solutions’ Director Greg Guilford, “Becoming a partner for Dinamiks is an important step for us, because Dinamiks automates some Human Resource functions, including performance appraisals, allowing us to offer a wider, deeper and ‘smarter’ range of services. It also frees us up to provide higher level consultancy and help guide our clients through the current demanding economic, HR and employee legislation cycle.

“Importantly, we are also users of Dinamiks and that gives us real, hands-on experience of it. With that comes the confidence to offer Dinamiks to our clients and the wider market in the knowledge that it can help them in a number of ways.”

Shirley Barnes, Client Services Director at Dinamiks Ltd, comments, “We welcome HR Solutions to our channel partner programme, which is designed to assist HR firms in the work they do in the UK and across countries and continents. Partners can re-sell Dinamiks and/or integrate it into their offerings and optionally provide it via an own-brand portal, to improve the profitability and effectiveness of themselves and their clients.”

Dinamiks at a glance

Available 24/7 via secure web access, Dinamiks reduces costs and inefficiencies, develops and motivates staff, aligns employees with business goals, helps deliver up to the minute appraisals, improves HR processes, shows where training or coaching is required – and helps with compliance and employment law across sectors.

More about Dinamiks at http://www.ikdevelopments.com

About HR Solutions Ltd

HR Solutions primarily supports businesses that require the skills of a professional human resources manager with the experience and knowledge to support specific business needs just when they need it.

With over 30 years experience, HR Solutions offers a wealth and variety of experiences to draw upon to provide valued professional, practical ‘hands on’ advice and support.

More about HR Solutions at http://www.hrsolutions-uk.com

For further information please contact:

Shirley Barnes, Client Relationship Director, Dinamiks Ltd
Tel (+44) (0)1243 538835 shirley.barnes@ikdevelopments.com

Greg Guilford, HR Solutions Ltd,
Tel (+44) (0)1536 484 552 gmg@hrsolutions-uk.com

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Eco case study: Roberto, Capital FM’s No 1 DJ, checks out The Saveometer Personal Smart Meter in his London home

Capital FM DJ Roberto has tried out Eco 1’s Saveometer, which is designed to show how much electricity household appliances use and encourage less power use.

First, Roberto says it’s very easy to install; it took him just under 2 minutes to get the Saveometer up and running and monitoring his electricity use.

He was impressed by the large clear results display, which is fully portable.

In a newly uploaded video on youtube Roberto shows how easy it is to carry around the house, checking what’s been left on and how quickly the user can see the savings that can be made by switching things off.

Moreover, Roberto shows just how addictive the Saveometer is. “When you see how much money you can save…it becomes addictive,” he says. And, he adds…users can save enough to pay for their holiday.

Not only does the Saveometer show the instant cost per hour but also cost so far per week and month as well as the previous month, quarter and year.

That information is invaluable for budgeting and controlling energy bills, Roberto says.

And for those who are more eco than purely cash conscious, the Saveometer shows a household’s cumulative CO2 emissions, which is great for keeping track of one’s carbon footprint.

The device also displays the user’s cumulative kWh’s useage, “which might in itself be enough to persuade peope to invest in the Saveometer,” says Eco 1’s Melissa Lane, “because the higher the figure, the more it will hit the pocket.”

Other features of the Saveometer include:

– Totally Unique Gas monitoring on the same display for suitable meters (extra transmitter required)

– Atomic clock and Calendar

– Rechargeable batteries and dedicated charging base

– 5 Led light thresholds for visual alerts

– Simple clear display of your energy consumption

– Totally portable

– Full money back guarantee if users don’t recoup the purchase price in 12 months

Monthly and weekly costs help householders budget carefully so there are no nasty surprises from the energy suppliers. The Saveometer’s historic and real time display help users be better prepared for any rising bills. If a tariff goes up, it takes minutes to change the Saveometer to reflect any rise in unit costs.

The Saveometer is also brilliant for learning what the “stand by” cost is for a home or small office; that is the amount spent when everything is apparently switched off. For example, when users go to bed or leave the house, a quick glance at the Saveometer will confirm if something is still switched on that should not be.

Contact Melissa Lane at Eco1 Limited for more information: melissa@saveometer.com – Tel: Tel: 01977 709833

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