Archive for the 'IanLockwood.net News' Category

Sony Vaio Pro 13 – Marginally Less Broken Than Sony’s Website

Long time since I posted here! It would be longer still, but I feel the need to take to the blog as Sony’s website (and it’s flagship Vaio Pro 13 Ultrabook) have let me down to the point where there is nowhere else online to turn.

Two weeks ago I took delivery of said Sony Vaio Pro 13, a lovely-looking 13″ Ultrabook made of carbon fibre. It took Sony two weeks to get it to me, but hey… Straight away, I noticed that the wifi connection kept dropping out, despite being close to the router, no walls in-between etc. Plenty of other devices in the same room were connected at good speeds. A quick search led me to this thread: http://community.sony.com/t5/VAIO-Hardware-Networking/New-Sony-Vaio-Pro-Wifi-Issue/td-p/143557/page/94

To save you reading all that thread, the geniuses at Sony chose to put the wireless antenna in the body of the laptop rather than the lid. So not only does it not have the “aerial” properties you’d hope for, but it’s right next to the noisy electronics that interfere with the signal. I have persevered for a couple of weeks, upgrading to Intel’s latest 7260 drivers and all the other updates you inevitably get when starting up a new Windows machine. It is now capable of at least holding a signal, but only if you are no more than a few metres from the router. Last week at a meeting, it kept dropping out whilst I was trying to demonstrate something to a client, and that was the last straw. I began trying to undertake the returns process. It looked easy, with a Returns option in the main menu of Sony.co.uk’s My Account section. Except when you submit the form, you get this less than helpful error message: “An error occured including /b2c/z_onlineReturnStep4.inc.jsp: <br/> Error in JSP..”

So I moved on to Sony’s Contact Us page. It asks for your device’s serial number, which despite repeated checks and re-entry, weren’t recognised for my device. No worry, you can persevere without it. So I completed the contact form, including the error produced by the Returns system and my original complaint. Submitting the form, I am greeted by a “Sorry, we can’t find the page you’re looking for…” message. At this point, I’m getting a bit irritated.

I go to the Sony.co.uk forum, which at least uses the same login as the My Account section, thinking that I will post my experience on there to get a response. Except you need to choose a username – no problem, stick in the usual suspect for such things, and then: a 403 Forbidden error. Not even dressed up, just the stock Apache Tomcat error page for access forbidden.

So after trying three different ways of interacting with Sony online to make my issues with their faulty product known, I have run out of options, hence this blog post. I will be tweeting Sony UK in the hope someone picks this up. Meanwhile, I strongly discourage anyone from buying a Vaio Pro 13 as they are fundamentally flawed and no patch can fix an antenna in the wrong place.

Discount SEO Workshop In Nottingham – 1st November

eBusiness ClubI’m pleased to say that the eBusiness Club have given me a special discount price of £150 +VAT for the Search Engine Optimisation: Getting Started workshop that I’m delivering this Thursday 1st November in Nottingham. This applies to non-Chamber members, saving you £50 on the normal price.

For full details of the event, click here.

If you would like to book a place, please email sharon@ebusinessclub.biz and say that you would like to claim the Ian Lockwood discount for Thursday’s workshop. Please note that the discount only applies to the SEO workshop on 1st November 2012.

The workshop is a great introduction to the world of search engine optimisation, with practical tips to improve your website’s SEO and completely up to date information about what works and what doesn’t for SEO in 2012. Whether you’re planning on doing your own SEO, or thinking about paying for SEO services, this workshop will ensure that you make the right choices in who does it and how it is done.

New eBusiness Club Events – What’s New In Search

eBusiness ClubI’m pleased to announce that the eBusiness Club has a new series of events lined up, starting with “What’s New In Search”, delivered by me! The first place that I’m delivering this new briefing is in Chesterfield at the b2Net Stadium on 4th May, followed by the Nottingham Belfry on 15th June and Derby Pride Park on 6th July.

I’ll be covering topics such as the ongoing Google Panda updates, the importance of social media in search results (particularly Google+), new features in search results such as Rich Snippets, Google’s recent attack on “unnatural links” and changes in the pay per click arena.

Places are only £25 +VAT, which includes breakfast and time for networking either side of the presentation. Note that the briefings have a new, earlier start time of 7:30am registration for an 8am start.

There is a small amount of funding for full-day workshops still available in Chesterfield, Derby City and Corby areas. Keep an eye on the full list of events at the eBusiness Club website, not least as there will be new events announced very soon, including “What’s New In Social Media” and an in-depth briefing on Google+. New full and half-day workshops for paying delegates (discounts for Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire Chamber members) will follow hot on their heals! :)

Online Marketing Conference 2011

eBusiness ClubI’m pleased to say that the eBusiness Club will be running its fifth Online Marketing Conference. Some of you will know that I spoke at the last one, and if you visit the conference page here, you can book your place, as well as rather embarrassingly see me in action!

There are a couple of great keynote speakers this year and I will be doing my bit too delivering a “What’s New In Search” session along with website reviews and sitting on the Experts Panel, so I hope you can join the hundreds of other East Midlands businesses and take advantage of this great (free!) opportunity.

You can see some pictures of the previous conference on Flickr here. Here’s one of me in full flow that I quite like:

Ian Lockwood speaking at the Online Marketing Conference

New Website For Video Production Company

Just a quick post as a favour to a friend: Andrew Clark of video production company Black Hawk Productions has launched a new website, with the novel idea of actually telling people what they might expect for their money. As well as showcasing Andrew and his team’s great work, there is a page showing what to expect at various levels of budget, which I think is a great idea – prospective customers know what to expect for their cash, whilst Andrew will be saved numerous hours on the phone having the same conversation about costs!

Best of luck to Andrew with the new site – you just need some links now mate! ;)

Applegate Directory 30% Discount

I spoke to a nice chap called Sam at the Applegate Directory today, who very kindly offered to give all my blog readers, Twitter followers and anyone else who cares to ask a 30% discount off their new Mercury Listing.

The Mercury Listing gets you this little lot:

  • List your business in the top section of an UNLIMITED number of product/service headings
  • Create as many new categories for your company as you require
  • Include a flash animated colour picture of your products or logo on your entry
  • Encourage buyers with an UNLIMITED number of words of information about your company
  • Include as many deep links and linked images to your website as you require
  • Email Link for any enquiries
  • Modify at any time during the year

Clearly this is pretty handy for SEO, and you can see how it’s being used by some companies here and here. I have found Applegate to be quite handy for several of my clients, although I’m not guaranteeing it is the right thing for everybody – depends very much if you have the kind of business suited to that directory (primarily business-to-business), although the SEO benefit of lots of keyword-rich deep links to your site from a PageRank 6 domain can’t be denied for any type of website.

The cost? Usually £595 +VAT, but with the 30% discount, £416.50 +VAT. Note that you can’t get this online – you will have to call Sam on 01271 852 000 and quote reference IanLockwoodSR2.

Please feel free to Tweet, email and generally spread this discount code to anyone you think would benefit, it isn’t dependent on knowing me personally! ;)

Figaro Digital Marketing Academy

Figaro DigitalI’m pleased to announce that along with my good friend Ann Stanley of Anicca Digital Solutions, we are delivering Figaro Digital magazine’s Digital Marketing Academy.

This is a series of training workshops, held at London’s rather swish Hospital Club, based on the Customer Acquisition, Conversion & Retention model. The workshops will provide a holistic view of how to use online marketing techniques to achieve each of the stages in the customer buying cycle, so you can expect to learn about SEO, PPC, Analytics, conversion rate optimisation, social media and email marketing. You can pick and mix from the days on offer at £495 per day, or take all four days at a discounted rate of £1485, giving you one day free!

Click over to the itinerary here to understand more about how the Digital Marketing Academy can help you. Warning: There is a mugshot of me further down that page!

Nasty HMRC Phishing Spam

I received some very nasty spam allegedly from HMRC titled “Reminder: Please Resubmit Your Refund Payment” today, as you can see below:

Rather than open the attachment, I saved it to my PC and had a read through the source code, as it’s a web page. The HTML revealed nothing much and references various online.hmrc.gov.uk URLs, until you get further down and spot that if you actually submit the form, it will be sent to this address: http://www.radio-rocket.eu/licznik/ndex.php

The page then goes on to grab various image files (security-related mostly, e.g. credit card logos) from sites including abbyparty.com, rbsworldpay.com and argos.co.uk. I’m sure they’ll all be delighted to know their bandwidth is being used to power phishing spam…

Don’t get caught out by this phishing scam – I’m sure most of you wouldn’t, but just in case you’re tempted by a refund from the taxman, resist!

Driving Global Trade Through Internet Marketing

Metafocus Global Internet Marketing ForumI’m speaking at the Metafocus “Driving Global Trade Through Internet Marketing” forum on 27th May at the Novotel Nottingham, J25 of the M1. To quote the marketing:

This forum has been developed for decision makers in International & Export Companies to help them use the Internet to reach overseas markets, expand their business and drive profit.

The event starts at 8.30am and lasts until midday (slightly earlier actually, to allow time for networking). The cost is £55 inc. VAT and the itinerary is:

9.00 Andrew Schlich, AST Language Services – Successful Communication with your Overseas Customers
9.20 Anja Nelskamp, Metafocus – Why Languange and Culture Matters
9.35 Ian Lockwood, Internet Consultant – The Importance of Ongoing Online Promotion
10.05 Alan Clements, Metafocus – Why You Need a Global Internet Marketing Strategy
10.50 Panel Q&A – Joined by Thomas Schaal (International Trade Advisor for the UKTI)

As you can see, my slot isn’t strictly international-focused, but it is relevant to all online marketing. If you have any interest in marketing outside of the UK, I strongly recommend attending – Metafocus have developed a real reputation for specialist knowledge of international online marketing.

You can book online here.

Leaders First Training Funding: New Criteria

I received an email from the nice people at Train to Gain/Business Link last Friday, informing me that they have lowered the staff requirement for businesses to be eligible for the Leaders First funding. To quote from the website:

Leaders First gives strategic decision makers within an organisation, the opportunity to develop valuable strategic skills to drive their organisation forward.

So, if you are an owner or manager in a business with at least three full-time employees (or two if you are a limited company), you can apply for funding for training and skills development in any area of your business, including online marketing. :)

The funding is up to £1000, split so that the first £500 is “free”, in that you don’t have to match the amount. The remaining funding must be matched 50/50, so you could receive as much as £1500 of training at a cost to you of £500. Full details of the programme, including a brochure, are available here on the Business Link website.

If you are interested in receiving one-to-one online marketing training (SEO, pay per click, Analytics, conversion optimisation etc.), please get in touch to discuss your requirements. If appropriate, I have a referral form I can send to Business Link for consideration.

Usually, the eligibility criteria is at least five employees and I have been told that the funding for smaller companies is very limited, so this opportunity may not be around for long.