Social Hiking Podcast

I was incredibly privileged to be asked by Phil from Social Hiking to take part in his second podcast recently and the fruits of our labours have just been uploaded. I’m pretty stoked with the results , if nothing else because it’s a reminder of a fantastic weekend that was had recording it.


You can download the podcast from iTunes here, or download straight from Social Hiking here. That last link has loads of great show notes as well BTW. You can also listen to the podcast below.

We looked at walking with kids and joys and not so joys that can involve, went walking with the kids in the woods, packed in a microadventure and looked at updates to Social Hiking and our fav maps. I would like to thank Phil for doing a masterful job in putting together the podcast itself and for the fact  he also uploaded some Audioboo’s of our climb up Alfreds Tower, the Tour de Dorset + Bongos that we came across and some outtakes 🙂

Jurassic Wild Camp

Let me know what you think in the comments below!


A Weekend of Learning

A Weekend of Learning

Last weekend I was asked if I would like to go along to the very first Active Photographer Jolly, run by Giles (The Active Photographer) and Will (Whole Life Photography). It was designed for people passionate about the outdoors, who wanted to take better photos, or photographers with a keen interest in the outdoors. As this was the first one, Giles and Will were keen to simply see how things went and get feedback for possible future sessions.



Young Giles himself.

I want to write about my experiences of last weekend, not as a review of what happened, but instead how I felt after the weekend as my mind has been buzzing for the last couple of days. I’ve promised Giles I will do a full review over on the Togblog which I will hopefully get done this weekend, but I hope you will forgive this interlude away from the usual outdoor related matters.

I came away after the weekend on a bit of a high, and I have been reflecting back this week on what was said over the weekend and how I felt. The key thing that made it special for me was the chance and time to learn something. This might sound blindly obvious to you but is it? Too often learning becomes a dirty word, reflecting back on my own experiences at school and being forced to learn certain subjects. It’s also something as we get older we perhaps lose the time to pursue.

For me, not enough focus is made on learning things for your own enjoyment. Having worked in a challenging educational environment in the past, my strength was always to find studies that people wanted to do. Straight away you have people who are committed, enjoying themselves, and engaged in what they are taking in.

Last weekend reminded me of this at a basic level, but it also ties in with what I have been reading about happiness – we need to continue learning to develop a sense of self worth and peace. It also leads on to the second major thing that gave me so much pleasure from the weekend, and that was the people that were involved.

I have not had the chance to learn a new skill from a teacher in a while. Along with the rest of society, I have been using the internet more and more to research and learn. It’s a total treasure trove on any subject that humankind has any knowledge on, and although we now have much more of a social experience on the internet with Facebook, Twitter, Forums, Comments and the like, I was reminded that the power of having a learning experience face to face is not to be underestimated.



One of the most popular subjects of the weekend!

You cannot see a perplexed face on the internet and check someone has learnt something, you cannot see someone at home doing what they have learnt and correct them when they go wrong, and you definitely cannot interact with fellow students as well as I have done this weekend. I make no bones that it was technology that was good enough to introduce me to the likes of Giles, Will and the rest of the gang. The actual workshop though was made so much more amazing as a result of being face to face. I could have learnt how to take photos from the internet, but every time I go out now to take a photo, I will remember the experiences and emotions of this weekend and I will be inspired.

There we go, some obvious stuff there mebe, but it still needed to be said. It probably helped as I mentioned that the people there this weekend were pretty special. Will & Giles, thanks for giving of yourselves so completely, you have a gift and warmth that mark you both out as two of life’s good guys. To Eleanor, Aaron, Nat & Alvin, thank you for sharing and being such great company, I was truly blessed to have had such a great weekend.



Practice what you preach. is our current hosting company, and some might argue the name says it all, yet until last week I have never had a problem with them. Then our domain went down. Then my email went down. Not a happy chicken it has to be said, but I am more than annoyed with myself than them. After preaching to all and sundry about the joys of backups, and feeling very smug with my dropbox, flickr and external hard drive backups, I suddenly had a sinking feeling. As this was our first wordpress site, we hadn’t backed it up. Previously we have always built HTML sites from scratc,h and so always had a backup on the PC. Not this time though 🙁

Thankfully, Google cache came to the rescue but if you are wondering why all your comments from the last three posts have disappeared, here’s your answer. Now, time to repeat my zen backup mantra lest I forget…..

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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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……