The Eee Pad Transformer – my romantic tragedy

As a happily married man, falling in love again is not generally thought to be a good thing.  However last night I did. Not only that, but my wife was not happy.  I had better explain…

We are going away soon to the US so that I can be best man at my best mates wedding. Elizabeth and Jet are coming too, and we thought that as we will spend  a lot of time in planes, and waiting around that being able to distract ourselves with a good film or two would be a good thing.

We looked around a bit (quite a bit actually) and it came down to a decision between getting an iPad2 and an Eee Pad Transformer.  We knew exactly what we would get with the iPad2, but the Transformer was a bit of an unknown.  After deliberation, we opted for the Transformer.  The reasons?  It is cheaper – significantly – something like £200 all in, the ability to read websites as they are meant to be (flash) and we read many many good reviews from very well respected websites.

Out of the box the Transformer is amazing. After a quick charge, and logging in with your Google account, it knows exactly who you are – not only that but your contacts are downloaded, your photos are there, and all docs.  The unit itself is slick, image amazing and clear.  The Honeycomb UI – no problems with it at all (I haven’t experienced yet any of the problems with 3.01 that others have).

So what nearly caused us to return the Transformer only hours after receiving it? The things we wanted to use it for (films specifically) are so blinkin difficult to get on it!  I spent hours last night looking for ways to transfer films on, and woke up early again this morning to do the same thing.

The problem isn’t the unit specifically, it isn’t even the OS that runs on it. It is with Google.  I can see why people crow about the iPad.  The simplicity of having a store where you can select a film, and download it is just what you need.  The time and angst trying to find the right file coding for Handbrake, working out how to transfer it on to an SD card (which is not as easy as it sounds) is very close to not being worth the hastle.  Google need to address this, and quickly.  There are companies such as Netflix and Amazon who in the US allow for file download. The closest we have in the UK is BlinkBox which just allows download to PC.  It is a conflict that goes to the heart of the Android ideology – freedom to use which app you like, when you like with little control from an equivalent App Store, with amazing multitasking  etc. etc, but when the main competition is Apple, that likes to hand hold you through every process you have a problem.  it is not good enough to be good enough, you need to be the best, and sorting out this problem soon is critical.

Luckily, I have managed to find the right package to sort out the films – it isn’t perfect at all, but I can live with it until Google get their act together. And  I can stay with the tablet I love 🙂

Things that bug me…

Not being particularly grumpy, but these things have started to grate…

1. People who start their first sentence when they are interviewed with “as I was saying…”.

2. Usually the same people start the next answer with “yes, yes, no…” or “no, yes”. Usually designed to stop you talking as they like the sound of their voice too much.

3. “You know what I mean?” In every sentence. Argh!

Why did I agree to the Great South?!

Okay, so it was January that Ian Addison suggested we do #weightlosschallengything on Twitter. Every Monday we would weigh ourselves and post the results to a Google doc. It worked, and I lost more than I hoped for, and soon felt I could start running (something I have never enjoyed, and hadn’t done for over 10 years).

That is where it all went wrong. Ian suggested that I join him running the Great South in Portsmouth, and with months of training ahead I signed up. As with all things, I started well, soon getting to 5-miles. Then I pulled a muscle which took a while to heal, then I started again and quite quickly got to 6-miles, and my right knee put up the white flag.  This morning was my first run for a month, and to be honest the 2 and a bit miles felt good.

I have decided to run for Tommy’s. A charity very close to Janette’s and my heart after Elizabeth was born very quickly and five weeks early (full story here).  If you feel like sponsoring  a man who shouldn’t be running 10 yards never mind 10 miles and at the same time raise money for a very good cause you can do so here.

Now while I have been writing this, Ian has posted his blog post, and is raising money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, you can sponsor Ian here.

Thank you!

It's been a while…

So, schools went back – did you notice?  I did, just a bit.  Educational publishers get busy at about the same time, it is part of the job (as an aside, it is unfortunate that we get busy in the summer holidays too!).  As a result, it has been a few weeks since my last post, so I thought a summary post would get things off my mind!

House move…

Went well – we are in, have been for about a month.  The house is lovely, and very close to work.  My commute has gone from over 2 hours, to under 10 minutes (and that is with a stop to drop Elizabeth at the childminders!).   That means I am getting more sleep – and more time with my very lovely family.  5am has only appeared on my alarm clock once since I have been here, and that was when I had to go to the London office.

The house is nice, and we are really close to a country park which is brill for Beth.  Unfortunately not great for me, as I fell over and split my chin open – healing well.

Beth has settled in so well with the childminder.  Such a massive relief.  For those who have followed the trials and tribulations we went through dropping her off at nursery, it is like she is a different child.  She runs in, and tells me to go to work!  Very happy indeed, and has been since day one.


When I came to look at the house in June, I noticed a very grimy pond in the garden that was very green.  Two days ago, we decided to empty it – and found a Koi in it.  A bitter-sweet discovery. Great that it was alive, but what cruelty to have fish and not feed or clean out the pond.  Long story short, we cleaned out the pond, and the newly named ‘Elizabeth the Fish’ is back and can see again!  I feel massively guilty that we didn’t know that we had pets, but now we do, we will be very lovely to it!


Wow – busy.  We have been gearing up for back-to-school since before the end of last term, with new publishing, new Educational Consultants, and a conference to get ready for.  The sales conference was brilliant, easily the best one we have run, and the reps we have are “easily the most professional I have ever worked with” (quote from my MD!).  They have started in schools again now, and are doing really well, which is brilliant and I am exceptionally proud.  We had two really exciting launches for them, one is Scholastic Primary Science, and the other Read & Respond Engage – both are amazing resources which deserve to do very well.

We have also taken on yet another huge project, which means that the time that I had put aside for other things has been diverted, and the four hours I have gained from the commute may well be given to work!  Not the right time to say what that project is yet, but we are quite excited by it, so will shout about it when we can!

And finally…

I have been asked to be best man at a wedding of my best mate.  Neil proposed to his girlfriend Kristin last week, and I am so delighted for them both.  The even better news is that they live in America, so next August, Kansas here we come! Here is the video that Beth did for them!

Change of lifestyle starts tomorrow


So, we’ve been in the new house for the best part of a fortnight – and the holiday ends tonight before work starts tomorrow.

I have never lived closer than half an hour from work, and since January I have been driving for two hours to work – now I have the huge commute of 8 minutes!

I am sure I will find problems with it as time passes: tractors too slow; not enough time to catch up with podcasts; achy legs from cycling to work, spending too much at the amazing farm shop around the corner etc. etc. But for now, I am basking in the splendour of getting more sleep!

The results of the 5 minute guilt-free chocolate cake by @stuartridout are in!


A couple of days ago, Stuart Ridout posted his audition for TV chef up on his blog, and from the results of the cake that Beth and I just made, he should get the job!

It really did take as long as advertised, and we followed the video along in real-time…the verdict?

“The best cake you have ever made” Jet

“I like the smiley man, what’s his name and why don’t I live with him?” Beth

We didn’t go for custard, we enjoyed it with Raspberry Ripple ice-cream there by making it guilty, not guilt-free!

Thank you Stuart!

How tech saved me from being homeless

OK so that title is laced with much hyperbole, but at least it made you look! And it has an element of truth in it!

For one reason or another – mainly the landlord being on holiday in the far east –  the tenancy agreements for our new house took a long time to come through.  In fact, so long that they didn’t make it to me until 3pm yesterday, and we move in today!  I needed a scanner, and quickly, otherwise, we may well have not had keys to our new home until tomorrow, which would have been bad!

Enter stage right the Scan2PDF app for Android.  For £3.99 it turned my phones camera into a scanner, taking a photo of each page, collating them together and then emailing the PDF straight to the Estate Agent. Very. Nice. App.