Monday, 23 July 2012

University of Surrey's International Alumni Day

I decided to visit my old university on its grand open day for the alumni, on Sat 14th July 2012. I studied Hotel & Catering Management 1981-85 (now called Hospitality and Tourism Management). I was accompanied by my old chum Gary Byrne who, 1981-85, studied Language and International Studies (that department is also bound to have changed its name too by now).

The new (to me anyway) Management building

Prof. Graham Miller,  Head of School of Hospitality and Tourism Management  

A lecture theatre

The University Library

Gary Byrne
Gary attended a concert (Symphonova - a world first) while I went to a reception put on by my department. I was hoping to see lots of old friends but it turned out that I was the only one there from my year! Anyway, it was good to go back. The place has grown almost beyond recognition. It appears that any green spaces that I remember have now been built on!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Greenfields Theatre Company Presents: The Three Musketeers

Once again, the Greenfields Theatre Company proved itself highly professional having just put on a wonderful and very successful production of The Three Musketeers by Ken Ludwig, as part of Greenfields School's end of year celebrations.

In was a daunting task in the shadow of GTC's rip-roaring success last year, The 39 Steps, but the cast and crew really pulled it off - it was hilarious! The audiences on all three nights this year were delighted with the performances.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

New service to revolutionise card payments in the UK

£35.5 billion of SME bad debt just one of many areas seen to benefit from service

London - A new payment system is launching in the UK that will enable companies of all sizes to accept credit and debit card payments through their mobile phone.

is a service that includes a mobile phone app and a reader which connects to a smartphone or mobile device either by plugging into its headphone socket or via Bluetooth. It enables customers to make payments on the go using their card in a way never before seen in Britain.

The mobile app is free to download on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and Blackberry devices and functions as the control centre that accepts the payment. It monitors payments made by card as well as cash and cheque, as well as processing each transaction securely. The reader, when connected to a mobile phone, is used to swipe the magnetic strip of the card, or for the chip and pin device, the card is inserted and the customer is prompted to enter their PIN code. mPowa will enable businesses, including sole traders, to take payments immediately without waiting for invoices to be issued and paid.

The device is launched as many businesses are struggling to survive because of bad debt. In the UK, £35.5 billion of debt is owed to SMEs alone. In the second half of last year, small and medium firms reported waiting an average of 29.6 days longer than agreed payment terms, which is a figure that represents an increase over the first half of 2011.

Because many firms are currently unable to accept card payments due to the cost of devices, mPowa will function as a way of shortening the payment process from what can be months, to a matter of minutes.

Dan Wagner, Chairman and CEO of Powa Technologies, the company behind mPowa, said, “We created mPowa as a response to an age-old problem that needed a solution – a universal payment system that will enable anyone to accept money from customers without excessive costs or waiting times. Whether you’re a large enterprise looking to mobilise your sales team, a market trader, or a local plumber who wants to accept payment on the spot, even from customers who don’t have cash to hand, this is a unique offering that will have a huge impact right across the country.”

Both the mobile app and reader are free and the only cost associated with using mPowa is the small 25p or 0.25% fee charged for each credit or debit card payment processed, making it accessible to all businesses. And because it accommodates existing banking relationships, there’s no need for a business to change its banking details to use the service.

A web-based Merchant Dashboard account management system enables users to fully monitor payments in addition to the mobile app. Meanwhile, receipts can be sent by email or SMS.
Dan continued, “I am always speaking to businesses that squander valuable time chasing late payments because they were unable to take the money upfront in the first place. This problem is crippling companies who are already struggling in this difficult economic climate and many are having to close their doors because of this. mPowa will be an invaluable service for accepting payments whether the point of sale is the doorstep or the shop floor.”

About mPowa
mPowa is a point of sale device that enables credit and debit card payment s to be made on the go. It consists of a mobile phone app for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows or Blackberry devices, and a card reader. This can be either a magnetic stripe reader (MSR) which can be plugged into the phone’s headphone socket or a Chip & PIN device which communicates with the phone through Bluetooth. It is the first service of its kind in the UK.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Kenwood Exhibition, The Lighthouse, Woking

Katherine Higgins interviewing Kenneth Grange, CBE at The Lightbox, Woking

I attended
The Art of Design: Kenwood in the Kitchen at The Lighthouse, Woking twice during its almost two month run (28 April to 24 June) and it was a real pleasure on both occasions.
...................Kenneth Grange turned this................. into this in 1960
..........................(photo credits: The Lighbox, Woking and eyeseenicee).

My first visit, on 15 May 2012, was to be in the audience of In Conversation with Kenneth Grange; interviewed by TV presenter Katherine Higgins. Kenneth told us how he landed a career in industrial design and how he came to be commissioned by my step father, Ken Wood in 1960, to redesign the then clunky Kenwood Chef into something more attractive and stylish. He told told us the story (one that I had heard Ken Wood tell many times) of how Kenneth ran out of time making his proposed design, and "cheated" by mounting half of his model of the Chef on a mirror to make it look like a whole one! Ken Wood loved both the design and Kenneth's half-a-Chef-on-a-mirror trick, and gave him the job "probably because I was cheap and because I said I could do it quickly".t was wonderful to see Kenneth again. The last time we met, I was probably an infant.
A few photos I took of the exhibition

I returned on the last day of the exhibition to have a proper look at all the exhibits, a few of which I and my mother had lent The Lighthouse. It was all so well presented, and it included a TV documentary on the history of the Kenwood company as well as an opportunity to hear an audio recording of Ken Wood himself dictating his life story.

In addition to several different editions of the Kenwood Chef and other Kenwood products, also on display was the actual half-model on a mirror that Kenneth Grange presented to Ken Wood in 1960; various children's toy versions of the Chef; newspaper cuttings; awards; photographs; a miniature Kenwood Chef in gold that could be worn as a brooch or pendant; a Kenwood cigarette lighter; Kenwood adverts; Kenwood recipe books; many important original documents including instruction manuals and even one of Ken Wood's passports.

Ken Wood, Local Hero
The Kenwood Display, Woking Museum

I also had time to have a look around the section of the building that is Woking's museum. I was very pleased to see there that Ken Wood was (and probably still is at time of writing) occupying the Local Hero slot. He would be honoured. There is also a permanant display of Kenwood products there as the company is considered such an important part of Woking's history.

Kenneth Maynard Wood, 1916-97

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Grays of Westminster's fisheye Nikon lens story goes viral!

Grays of Westminster, the world-renowned London-based Nikon-only dealer (and WorldWidePR client since 2009) recently acquired a Fisheye-Nikkor 6mm f/2.8, thought to be the world’s most extreme wideangle lens and possibly the world's most expensive, which Grays were selling for £100,000.

One of only a few hundred produced, it is remarkable in that it can see behind itself, having a picture angle of 220º. The story of this rare and extremely expensive lens turning up in London really captured the attention of the media and of the public. It quickly went viral, appearing in almost every photographic magazine on the globe as well as in newspapers (including the Daily Mail, shown above) and even in TV reports. It also featured as a post in almost every photographic, technical and gadget-related blog out there. Grays then produced a video about the lens which gained a quarter of a million views in only a month! When Grays announced that they had found a buyer for the lens, it attracted even more attention to the story, resulting in even more articles and blog posts around the world.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

History has been made! Photos from East Grinstead's first-ever Tweetup.

29th Feb 2012, Bluebells Café, East Grinstead


East Grinstead's First Ever Tweetup















Here's my check-in on Foursquare in case you missed it:

The tweetup went well. Hopefully those who attended understand Twitter a little better now. (@ Bluebells Café) [pic]

Monday, 27 February 2012

East Grinstead's First Ever Tweetup!

East Grinstead's first ever Tweetup at Bluebells, as reported in the East Grinstead newspaper

On Wed 29th Feb 6-9pm, local social media marketing firm is holding East Grinstead's First Ever Tweetup here at Bluebells! As you can see, it's captured the attention of the media already. Click here to see the online version of the story announcing our Tweetup: Beginner, advanced user or computer nerd, if there's anything you ever wanted to know about Twitter or Social Media in general but were afraid to ask, this event is for you! If you'd like to attend, please let us know by adding your name to the "Going" list on our Facebook Event Page for this event here:
John Wood of WorldWidePR