I am a firm believer in trying to recycle as much as we can, and in making as good a use of the earths resources. One site we have used for some time now is freecycle. Essentially it’s a board that matches up people who are getting rid of stuff with people who want bits and bobs. You can either post an offer of an item when you want to freecycle something, or a wanted post when you need something. We used it extensively in London getting rid of wardrobes, blinds we no longer needed and even baby clothes. We also asked for the occasional item such as a pasta maker which we then freecycled at the end of our need for it. The only thing that you need to bear in mind is it has to be completely free, no charge from either side.

Since we have moved to Dorset, we have been using the North Dorset Freecycle group. Freecycle is divided up in to different areas and there are different characters to each group. My mild frustration with the North Dorset group right now is that there are so many wanted posts compared to offer posts. It could be down to the current economic climate, but I am surprised at the number & expense of requests of items such as washing machines, power plates etc that are currently on there. I am not sure what you could do to tackle this, as I am sure that some posts trigger a memory in people of something they have that they no longer need, which will fulfill a need for someone else. My own thoughts are that perhaps you need to have offered an item before you can post a wanted request.

Small niggles aside, I have a huge amount of respect for freecycle and what it aims to acheive. As well as recycling and ensuring less stuff goes to landfill, I seriously rate Freecycle in terms of getting joy from giving something away you no longer need. Having watched a simple life recently, there is much to be said to for the pleasure of giving, both from the pleasure of the receiver but also giver.

Arbico Computers review

It’s nearly a year since I bought an Arbico computer, and my PC is coming up to it’s first birthday soon. I will wish it a happy birthday, but I am beginning to worry if it will be here in time as it has been back for repair with them now for nearly 2 months out of the year I have had it. There are precious little reviews out there for Arbico computers from when I first bought a PC, and there are very few out there still, so I want to warn people about the experiences that I have had with them.

The story started in July of last year when work at Webtogs became increasingly busy and my old dual core Athlon started to really slow down. No amount of tender loving care or re-installs would sort it out, so I made the decision to get a new one. Previously I had built my own with help from some good mates who really know what they are doing. Whether it was because I was now in the sticks and had lost confidence in being able to build one myself, or, because work was a little busy, I didn’t feel like building one this time around. Having done my research on them from the various awards they had received, I was still slightly unsure as there were very few reviews in places such as the Hexus forums and anywhere else on the web. I bit the bullet though and went ahead.

For those who know me, I am a reasonably passionate gamer and so I got myself a good rig. £1.2K of good rig in fact. Spec was pretty decent and was as follows;


Delivery was reasonably prompt after 10 days for a custom built machine, but here is where the problems started. After 3 weeks I started to have serious problems with the PC slowing down. Firefox, office applications and even notepad took some time to load, considerably longer than my previous dual core athlon PC and the intel dual core I had at work. After a while the computer experienced a blue screen of death and completely crashed. On rebooting the PC, the same issue happened again with the screen becoming scrambled. I started the PC in safe mode and the same thing occurred,  essentially the computer was now unusable. To their credit they arranged for a return and picked it up, contacting me to advise they had found a fault with the Mobo and returned it to me again. The problems remained however, so the PC went back to them yet again. I was sure it was a problem with the SS HD and told them as such, but yet again, the machine came out to me in the same condition, despite asking that the HD get replaced.

At this point I was fairly confused and beginning to get a little fed up. I spoke to one of their support team who was pretty short with me even though they had made a mistake, and I didn’t have a working PC still. In the end we decided to send the faulty SSD HD back to Arbico, and they would send me a new 150 GB Velociraptor, which I would install myself and then re-install Windows myself as well. So after 3 errors and more than 3 weeks of No PC, I then get the pleasure of sorting my own PC out – and I had to pay for the HD until they received the SS HD back.

All then was well until last month when problems again surfaced. The PC refused to boot up, no hard drives were recognised from within the BIOS nor from booting Windows from DVD. I spoke to the to the supprt guy there, who could not have sounded more bored than if he had been forced to give a paper on Tory Party conference fringe speakers from 1975 – 1979. He recommended I take out my HD and send it back. I duly did so only to be told after a week that my HD was fine and they were sending it back with a new sata and power cable. I plonked it all back in only for the same problem to remain. I then had to send my whole PC back where it still remains with Arbico after three weeks, and all in all, I am a little cheesed off. They advise now that the secondary HD has in fact failed and they are replacing it and sending it back to me, but I am yet to receive it.

I can’t fault them for the hardware failing, there is not a lot anyone can do to prevent or stop that, but I do have issues with the support received. To their credit it is easy and quick to get through to them, and they have also paid for all the returns back to base. On the negative side however, the quality of their support has in my opinion been poor and they have unnecessarily elongated the period I have been without a PC and required me to do a lot of work that they should have. Repairs have taken a long time and as I work from home when I can, the net result of all these faults has been less time with my family. I would not as a result recommend Arbico to anyone. I don’t think that their service is really bad, but it definitely isn’t good. One to avoid.

Complaint – Order Number 203253

Inbox X X



to info, g

show details 02/09/2009

Re: Order number 203253

Dear Sir,

On the 18th July, I bought a PC from yourselves that was delivered through to me on the 29th July

I had to return this computer to you less than three weeks later due to a faulty motherboard. The PC was returned to me today upon which I began using it this evening. I am disappointed to note that yet again, the PC that I have bought is still failing to work properly.

I began to use the PC and noted that as when I first received the computer, before the motherboard fault, it runs very slowly. Firefox, office applications and even notepad took some time to load, considerably longer than my dual core athlon PC that I currently have at home and to my intel dual core I have at work. Programmes would freeze, pause between switching and fail to respond for several seconds.

After a while the computer experienced a BSOD and completely crashed. On rebooting the PC, the same issue happened again with the screen becoming scrambled. I started the PC in safe mode and the same thing occurred,  essentially the computer is now unusable. I have attached a photo FYI of the BSOD so you can see the screen scrambling

I am, as you can imagine, very disappointed. I do not expect a PC I have spent over £1200 to perform in this manner. I can understand one failure but for the computer to be sent out a second time and for more problems to occur has left me frustrated. I use this PC to work from home and right now I am having to spend another evening in the office away from my family due to the problems with my PC.

To resolve this I would like your help with the following;

· The PC taken back at your cost immediately to identify what is wrong with it.

· An investigation of why it continues to crash and the screen scramble

· A thorough rebuild of all the parts associated with my PC and replacements wherever there is even the slightest doubt to ensure a stable working computer.

· The PC working and coping with basic tasks at a decent speed before it is sent back to me. This includes a full test of programmes from start up.

Having initially told my colleagues & friends to look at you having been impressed with your customer service, I am having to backtrack. I very much hope that you can help me as quickly as possible with the major issues I have with my computer and change the view I currently have of Arbico.

I look forward to hearing from you, please contact me on my mobile 07595023252 or to this E mail address or the one CC’d above at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely



E T: +44 (0) 117 911 3869 Skype: webtogs_gareth

Webtogs ltd, Unit 23B, Kingsmead Business Park, Gillingham, Dorset SP8 5FB – Tog Blog
P Save a tree – we only print the emails we really need to

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I feel dirty.

I feel ashamed, dirty and soiled. I am worried about keeping a dark secret that might creep out in conversation in a tired and unguarded moment. The secret? I am rather pleased about the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition now in place. Writing those words, immediately leads to a sense of panic to try and justify my position to friends who’s politics I agree with, and to prevent the mickey taking from those who I don’t. I’m going to relax though and just take my time a little as I have not been this scared, encouraged, apprehensive and hopeful about politics for some time.

I voted Liberal Democrat at the last election and have done for some time now. I have never liked the Tories as I think their policies are guided purely by self interest rather than out of any concern for our society as a whole. I was massively looking forward to the election result after what I thought were some excellent performances by Nick Clegg, especially in the first leadership debate, and the upswing in LibDem support in the polls. It didn’t translate to votes though (that’s another post in itself), and I awoke along with everyone else on Friday, bewildered, despite the polls telling me in advance that a government simply wasn’t going to be there. BBC News 24 then became my friend, and I have never watched as much political programming as I have this last week, though I will still avoid Sky like the plague for this sort of journalism. My heart leapt when it was announced that Labour were also entering in to negotiations but on conclusion of the Liberal / Conservative talks, I found to my suprise, that I wasn’t as upset or angry as I thought I would be.

Numerically it was never a goer to do a deal with Labour, back bench revolts would have led to votes failing fairly shortly in a progressive alliance govt, despite the similarities in politics. An early General Election would have come calling with a minority Tory govt as well, and I really don’t think that this is an option with the current crisis in Greece. As a result, the coalition is a moment I’m actually rather proud of as intrinsically British. Two parties with completely different ideologies have come together and used common sense to hammer out an agreement. They have agreed where they can, compromised where they can’t, and held their ground on beliefs they will never surrender. I know some people will greet it with cynicism, but at this early moment, I genuinely hope it pans out well. The fiscal state we are in, is as bad as any we have been in for some time, and we need a stable govt to tackle it. I also think that some (not all) of the policies I disagree with on the Tory side, have been ameliorated by having a coalition Govt and toned down. Likewise the Liberals have a chance for the first time in 70 years to put some of their policies in to effect, and I am hugely excited by that.

I still have concerns we will not get the real reform I want – voting reform. Stephen Fry states far more eloquently than I can before the deal was done, why the Tories will never go for electoral reform. Now the deal has been done, a referendum is promised but only on the Alternative Vote system rather than the fairer proportional representation system. I also think the Liberals will lose more support from people who having voted for them, do not quite understand the reasons as to why they have joined up with the Tories. So here I am, slightly freaked out by the fact that the party I support is currently in love and cracking jokes with the Tories. I can’t wait for normal service for resume and for me to carry on taking the mickey out of the Tories and campaigning against them, but although my heart is groaning right now, I actually think my head is right, and a good outcome has been achieved in the circumstances.

Bumboo Poo’s

Bumboo Poo’s

Ellis is the kind of lad that really doesn’t like to lie down. Anyone who has been around him will know he likes to be cuddled and held, lying down is simply not an option. We decided to get him a Bumbo as a result, a rather natty contraption that keeps your baby sitting upright.

Not our baby, honest

We have been really happy with this but I feel honour bound to warn other parents of the one peril of this contraption – the Bumbo poo. Basically, sittinging in that position has the same effect as a couple of bowls of allbran. Combine that with the fact that the bubmbo holds your baby tightly to keep them upright, means the Poo has then nowhere to go. It leads to some fairly explosive results. The moral of this story is, buy a Bumbo by all means, but at the first sign of any rumblings, you need to move faster than a Jedi to a lightsaber.

Drama in the garden

Just come home and spotted a baby blackbird lost and alone in the garden. I looked like it had fallen out of a nest and its parents were flying around, quite distressed, and looking for it. Poor little thing, it looked in shock. I’ve taken advice from the RSPB and tucked it by the hedge near to where I think it’s nest is. The parents have quietened down but I’m not too hopeful.

A good few years ago at our house in Forest Hill we had a nest of robins perched in the ivy outside a window. We watched the chicks for weeks until one day a cat spotted them. One chick was turfed out and we put it back but over the course of that night the cat worked it’s way through the whole nest and next morning it was empty.  It might not be lions picking off antelope on the plains, but nature can still be cruel even if its just in the garden.

Clearing out the crud

We’re well on our way to clearing out the house prior to our move hopefully in a months time. Boxes of books made their way to the charity shops in Gill high street, and multiple engagements with the lovely old volunteers have left me pondering a change of hair cut to a blue rinse

To aid the cleansing process, we have engaged the E bay button to flog the rest of our useless priceless posessions. Who would have thought a broken 4th Generation iPod would actually get bids? I’m beginning to regret throwing out the Sony E800 with broken screen and missing battery. I also phoned my mum up to have a go at her for getting rid of my Action man when I was 10 that had a leaky battery as I reckon I could have sold that too. Pfff

Anyway, enough warbling, if you want an air-conditioner, broken 4th gen iPod, climbing shoes or maternity clothes etc, head here to snap up a piece of jonesnow history. It’s not like we are trying to sell a dead fairy or anything….

Young me/now me

Oh my, this site is very simple and quite entrancing, sometimes funny, sometimes a bit more thoughtful. Young me/now me has people recreating childhood photos and showing the two images next to each other.

Facebook #EpicFail

Facebook for me has long been a bête noire, a place where people you had lost contact with years ago deliberately stalk you and “poke” you, with pokey things or … ermm…something. Anyway, my theory has always been that if I wanted to be in contact with someone, I’d call them rather than than log on to Facebook to find out what they have had for breakfast. Work has reared it’s ugly head however, and I need to be on it . Facebook though has other ideas, and has obviously been totting up all the occasions I have been less than complementary about it, and has decided not to let me in.

To start with, none of my confirmation mails came through to my jonesnow address so I couldn’t confirm my address. I added my gmail address at which point we start the loop login of death. I login, facebook asks me to confirm my address with the code it sent me, I enter it and I get the beautiful message “There was an error processing your request.” Mails to their non-existent help centre and customer service bounce in to the ether, and I am left with a tantilising glimpse of facebook activity through the notifications / messages /friend requests without actualy being able to do anything. I can’t delete my account and start again as I need to be confirmed to do that so I inhabit this shadowy ghost world where I get a small glimpse of the promised land.

The whole things has left me both relieved and disappointed. In some respects I was looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about, but in other ways, maybe I was right and fate is taking a hand in protecting my privacy. I’ll keep mailing their non-existent customer services (there is a story there in itself) and carry on facebookless in to my e future.

To lash me with the irony stick, please use the facebook link below to share this story……

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