Category Archives: Business

Business Related Posts

Northern Bar and Restaurant Show 2018

Today I attended the Northern Bar and Restaurant Show 2018 and I discovered a revelation which I’ll divulge later. There was some top quality items which I will absolutely be suggesting when it becomes suitable. 

Northern Block Vegan Hazelenut Rose Ice Cream

Northern Block Vegan Hazelenut Rose Ice Cream

Right sit down, take a seat and get ready for the shock of the year. Northern Bloc are an ice cream company, with flavours like “Milk Chocolate and Salted Caramel” and “Hazelnut and Tonka Bean” but the shocker is “Peanut Chip” and “Hazelnut and Rose” are V… Ve…, that thing which means no dairy, no meat, no animal products, Vega… erm *deep breaths* Vegan, I said it, that V words. They are V#gan Ice Creams, and they are actually really nice tasting. I have tried gluten free bread and other stuff which has been “trend of the day” and honestly I like gluten an I like dairy, but those 2 ice creams especially the Hazelnut and Rose as delicious. I couldn’t really taste the rose or anything which was rose like. I think it was an accessory flavour, where it enhances the flavours. Either way I actually liked a V-word, plant-based, dairy free, lactose free, gluten free and all natural ice cream. I NEVER imagined I would say a thing like that, ever!!

Yorvale Dairy

Speakng if Ice Cream Yorvale the real dairy ice cream company also had a surprising offer, a Kefir based ice cream and smoothie drink. Sour Cherry and Jaffa Crumble ice creams was delicious. Kefir is the next big health food product, its an amazing product. Probiotic and very good for you. The smoothie / yoghurt drinks are little gloopy but the health benefits easily outweigh this. 

TeeTotal Company

TeeTotal Company Cuba Libre

TeeTotal Company Cuba Libre

TeeTotal Company‘s offerings was outstanding, I’m not a fan of Gin, so the TeeTotal G’n’T or non-alcoholic Gin and Tonic wasn’t to my taste, but the Non-Alcoholic Cuba Libre (Rum and Coke) was absolutely amazing. My second choice of alcoholic drink after Bourbon is Rum. I usually for Woods Old Navy or Appletons 7 yr Reserve, but as a Driver I generally need to stick to non-alcoholic.

However the choices are pretty limited when I or other non-drinkers or drivers are out and about, but now if I can find places which sell it, I have found a new drink of choice. This stuff is made by a scientist who built up the drink layer by layer to make a non-alcoholic rum blend which tastes just like rum.

Its a light coca cola base flavour with just a hint of rum, a little rum flavour on the top. Its almost like you have poured a cola then a small amount of alcohol is stirred in to make a lightly flavoured rum and coke. I have yet to try it chilled over ice with a slice of orange/lime/orange in a high ball glass but I’ll post pics when I get hold of a few to experiment.

There are a number of other companies which stuck out, such as The Sweet Potato Spirit Company, Jarritos and The Food Porn awards, amongst others but I’ll post more about those in the coming days. The Food Porn awards really caught my eye because I used to be STM Photography (My initials are STM) but then I changed to Steven UK so it was kinda a little deja vu, although they are Shoot The Moon but still made me smile and more about their products soon. 


Krispy Kreme Worst Loyalty Program Ever

Krispy Kreme Offices

Krispy Kreme Offices

I have helped to set up 2 loyalty programs, and worked with a bunch of companies which run such programs. I have also worked on many affiliate programs which work along similar lines for their affiliates. I always advise that companies be generous with their loyalty programs, use them to in still good will. I learned this lesson from Sainsburys, which use their Nectar Points system for compensation, for reward and loyalty and use it very effectively.

With Sainsburys, If you make a complaint via Twitter, Email or Phone they almost instantly refund the equivalent points and apologise, so they buy your loyalty as you will want to spend your points and save more points, so you’re likely to continue as a customer.

Krispy Kreme Local

I recently had cause to order a wheelbarrow full of doughnuts, personally I’m a Sainsburys doughnut fan but they generally don’t last long even if picked up fresh, by late the following day they are already heading to stale.

I passed the Krispy Kreme store and heard about them recently being used for weddings and leaving parties etc, so I called in the store and the young woman who worked there were very helpful. She explained they were hand-made in a factory each day not in that particular store (didn’t know that), that they generally last 3 days before starting to turn but some people say they get 5 days. She explained the online ordering process, and about which flavours were most popular (Nutella)… long story short she answered all my questions and I were sold and decided I’d shell out the £1 per doughnut vs 6-10 doughnuts for a quid elsewhere.

Loyalty Program

I discovered that Krispy Kreme operate a Loyalty Program and app called “Friends of Krispy Kreme” aka FOKK, which tells you about each flavour, about the special edition doughnuts, and lets you register your purchases. It also has a dozen “Friends of Krispy Kreme Rewards” or FOKKR, some of the more interesting ones are below, but there are more.

  1. Free Glazed Doughnut upon Joining.
  2. 3rd Visit within a month = Free Doughnut or Hot Drink.
  3. Every 6 Dozen Doughnuts bought, you get 1 Dozen Glazed Free.
  4. Free Collectible Mug on 9th Visit.

Since I had been in the store a week before, and were decided I signed up for FOKKR / Online Purchases and I ordered 4 x Dozen Doughnuts (48 in all) using Click and Collect as I were advised it were the best way to ensure I got the doughnuts I wanted on the day I wanted them as they often sell out for the day.

I thought awesome well on my way to a free dozen doughnuts and a free collectible mug.

Worst Loyalty Scheme EVER

I emailed and tweeted Krispy Kreme asking how I register my online purchase for my Loyalty Rewards and I were told “Sorry this isn’t available, its only for in-store purchases”. This is bizarre, an App which is an online service, isn’t available for online purchases ?

Surely they need to go back to using a paper card and a stamp, if its only for in-store use.

So a company established in 1937, nearly 80 yrs ago with over 1,000 locations across 30 countries with a turn over of a HALF A BILLION DOLLARS, can’t even connect their app to their website, 2 things which in a modern online business world should be absolute basics.

The Small Print

I guess it could be a new app; I don’t know, but in this instance you would expect them to have the facility to manually add your rewards to your account. I went through the app and found a link to Terms and Conditions and hidden in there is a line which says

“The Friends of Krispy Kreme Reward (FOKKR’s) program is open to customers across Krispy Kreme UK retail stores and our sales partners.”

I guess it does imply that only retail purchases count, but the same “small print” also refers to “Reward Card” as a physical card and doesn’t explicitly refer to the app. It even tells you directly above, if you lose your card email them, so certainly not about the App. The T&C have been recycled and not “Search and Replaced” very well at all. I’d say it were reasonable to assume the print were out of date or didn’t apply to the app.

Even as a good will gesture since no where online, in-store or even in the app did it tell me online purchases wouldn’t count. Instead I’m told, sorry we can’t do that.

If ever you needed a lesson on NOT to run a loyalty program, or how to lose a customer, this right here is it it.

Just as a side note I could have gone to Greggs, Sainsburys, Tesco or even a local bakery, and for what it cost me I could have gotten 250+ doughnuts from the main supermarkets (and collected Loyalty Points), 180+ mixed doughnuts (topped, creams, jams, custards, nutella, peanutbutter, glazed, anything I wanted) from my local baker. Instead I got 48 from Krispy Kreme and shown the worst Loyalty Program ever.

How To Do It Properly

I have worked with many companies with Loyalty Programs, I’ve helped 2 start up a program, helped with who knows how many affiliate programs. I have always told clients be GENEROUS with your loyalty programs, put extra points on there, use it for compensation and rewards, add good will into it. While you maybe giving away pennies on the pound, people will be invested in to the program, and keep them coming back to build on it. That’s why its called Loyalty Program.

I were already planning to pick up a dozen doughnuts for one my clients who always brings cupcakes, I were then thinking 1 more order and I get a free dozen. That would be 4 purchases off me, a new customer. I’d then be thinking I’m half way to a free mug, so there you go I would be already invested by this point and I’m more likely to complete the remaining 5 purchases.

Now, I won’t buy there on principle, back to Sainsburys doughnuts for me. 

Krispy Kreme Customer Desk by Jrayalme.

Anywhere Sim on ALL 3 networks at once inc. o2, Vodafone and EE

Anywhere Sim Logo

Anywhere Sim Logo

Some years ago when  virtual networks appeared they piggy backed on the more established networks. The original I believe were Virgin Mobile which operated on One2One (None2One, the odds of getting a signal :P) then T-Mobile now part of EE, and Genie operated on BT Cellnet (now O2).

Anywhere Sim (Available from Argos) is a new kid in town who wants to end poor signal issues in the UK. The SIM Cards break new ground because they automatically check all 3 UK Networks (O2, Vodafone and EE) to see which has the strongest signal, then it will route your calls, text and data via that network. There currently isn’t support for 4g but 3g is available, they do claim LTE/4g is coming in the future.

Support for the Three Network is due on the 10th August 2016, and monthly plans soon after. I suspect with Three on-board that the high speed data will come soon after.

Its interesting that this appears to be possible due to EU Roaming agreements. Basically behind this is Manx Telecom who are based on the Isle of Man, but it has a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement with o2 which is a UK operator. This means they give you an o2 phone number, but you are a Manx TC customer. As a MT customer you are effectively “roaming” in the UK, so much like roaming in Europe you can move from network to network.

Anywhere Telecom is strictly pay-as-you-go for now, but much like other networks it has various plans, well 3 plans at least. These are Home, UK and EU, each has slightly different prices, surprisingly these prices aren’t too different.

Price Plans

Home Plan – You are essentially and o2 customer, which is the “home network”, the twist is, you can still receive calls and texts through the other 2 networks but not make calls. Calls are 5p per minute, Texts are 5p per text, and data is 5p per megabyte.

UK Plan – You get to use all 3 networks to make and receive calls, text and use data across them anywhere in the UK. Calls are charged at 10p, texts at 5p and data at 10p per megabyte.

EU Plan – You get to roam all over Europe, connect to any network with a roaming agreement with o2 or Manx Telecom. The price of this, is calls in the EU are charged at 12p per minute.

It looks like this could be a killer deal if you live in a bad coverage area, and I can see this becoming all dominating network since coverage will be astounding. It just needs to get the monthly deals, cheap mobile phones, and the high speed data sorted.

It were the EU “interfering” with mobile roaming charges, which has made this possible, its an exciting time to be a mobile phone user.

Virtual Operators in the UK

On a side note, some other Mobile Virtual Network Operators are…

Asda Mobile uses EE
BT Mobile uses EE
Freedom Pop uses Three Mobile
iD Mobile uses Three Mobile
Giff Gaff uses o2 Telecom
Lebara uses Vodafone
LycaMobike uses o2 Telecom
TalkTalk uses Vodafone
Tesco uses o2 Telecom
Virgin uses EE

There are about 60+ such MVNO’s in the UK alone.

Synology Root Access Denied or Wrong Password

I’m a huge fan of Synology NAS units, not so much of the camera licenses but thats a minor niggle and for another time. I recently found my root password appeared to have been change but I didn’t remember changing it. I rarely login to the root account so it could have been altered a while ago.


Synology Root Password Change

Synology Root Password Change

Instantly I assumed I had been compromised, so I logged in as Admin via SSH using PuTTy and changed the root password. Next logged in to DSM (The Synology OS) as Admin user, checked the firewall, and went to Auto Block finding a few IP addresses on the list, but the last one dated back months. Entirely possible it had been that long since I logged in last as root. I checked for other “users” and various other security checks and all seemed ok.

Once the Red Alert has subsided and back to Amber Alert I started to look around on the net and found many comments to the effect “my root password has changed” and “my root account is blocked” and with some further digging found references to the last major DSM Update which were DSM 6.0.

DSM 6.0 Root Password Change

It seems something DSM 6.0 did, caused a reasonable amount of Synology owners root passwords to either change, become corrupt or expire. The solution were to simply change the root password to a new one or back to the old one (I would NEVER recommend the latter). I had inadvertently already done this with my first reaction, so had already fixed it on that particular server.

It dawned on that lots of users wouldn’t find this nugget of information or know how to do this since the reason you buy Synology is so you don’t have to get knee deep in linux but have all the power, so figured I’d blog it.

Exactly what you type into the prompt is in bold, and hit enter after each command.

  1. Using PuTTy enter your Servers IP (probably or enter your servers hostname).
  2. Enter username as admin.
    (if you have changed your admin users name, change it here)
  3. Enter your admin password (same as used to access DSM).
  4. Enter the command sudo su.
    (this upgrades you to SuperUser)
  5. Enter admin password again when prompted.
  6. Enter the command synouser –setpw root ‘newpassword’.
    (use the single quotes around password)
  7. Enter exit, this returns you to normal user.
  8. Enter exit, this closes PuTTy.

You can now login as root user once again. I highly recommend using 2 different passwords for Admin and Root users.

Auto Block

Synology has a feature called “Auto Block” which automatically blocks IP addresses when they get the password wrong a number of times. You can find this under the Security Tab in the DSM. You may find your local network IP (192.168.0.*) or wherever you tried to access root from has been blocked, so its as well to check here and remove your IP remembering to save your changes.

Otherwise you find your connection by PuTTy being refused or randomly disconnected as happened on one of my units.


Protein Snacks

Protein Snacks Screen Shot

Protein Snacks Screen Shot

A project I’ve been working on (not finished) which is related to one of my own personal ‘struggle’ and goals. The details aren’t that important but in short. A recent iDXA / DEXA Scan at Derbyshire University revealed I had exactly 86.419kg / 13st 6lbs of lean muscle mass (no bones/fat/etc included). This helped me set my macro-nutrition / diet quite accurately on my quest to get BEEEEEFCAAAKED. Again cut short this means scan means I’m aiming at 45g* protein per 6 hours so as to distribute my intake through the day. It’s hard work finding good sources, with the right nutritional balance (skewed to protein).
*These numbers are based on my own research, activity levels, body composition and conclusions, so do your own research for your numbers, maybe in a future post I’ll go deeper in to it.

Flexible Protein

This brings me neatly to the issue of finding flexible methods of getting the protein in without massively blowing the other macro’s. Overloading carbs is easy as ummm cake, overloading the fat is almost as easy. I buy biltong, jerky, protein bars, RTD shakes, protein gels and all sorts of good snacks when getting a balanced meal isn’t possible. Which with a busy lifestyle is quite common, you know the drill, your hungry, you buy a bag of crisp or chocolate bar or something else, this site is about NOT going that way.

Just for an example…

Lion Bar 43g has 205kcal, 9g fat, 29g carbs, 2g protein, 80mg of sodium.
DynaBar 43g has 180kcal, 6.9g fat, 17g carbs, 14g protein, 50mg sodium.

The Protein Dynamix DynaBar has 1/3 less fat, sugar and sodium, 7 times more protein, this isn’t the best macro split, but given the very close taste, the Dyna is 100% a better option.

So there we have it, how my new project can and will help myself and others in the same boat.


Back Up and Contingency Plans

There have been a few stories in the media recently about various companies back up plans being entirely inadequate, the biggest being Marco Marsala. One such company is within the Domain Circle which is HEG which own various companies including Heart, Domain Monster and the company at the centre of the back up fiasco 123-reg. What these companies have in common is that they are some how “I.T. Professionals” in charge of YOUR websites and domains and should know better.

Back Up Failure

Borrowed from BrassBolts

This is a perfect example of why I invested quite heavily in my home back up processes, and I used to be a “hosting company” which used to be a Reseller of services by a company called DonHost way way way back. Back then with a 64kb ISDN Line, I used to download nightly back ups of all client sites, and when the back ups started taking over 12 hours, I moved to bi-nightly downloads and so on.

This were in addition to the hosting companies daily, weekly making around 31 days worth of back ups (7 days, and 4 weeklys = 11) and the weekly “off site” back up to a non accessible hosting account with another company which had its own back ups too.

Non-Accessible Back Up

This non-accessible back up, is technically against lots of hosting companies T&C these days but it weren’t back then. Many hosts include a clause that you can only use a certain percentage of your storage for “storage” that is files not linked publicly by a web page hosted within the account.

This is to limit peoples illegal file sharing, but affects legal use too.

I think this a croc, if I pay for storage, I don’t expect the company to tell me, I can’t keep legal items in there. Obviously illegal stuff and things which breach rules is one thing, but to say I can’t store private files and then want to double the charge to allow me to store private files is a croc, but that’s another issue.

Synology NAS Units

Anyway fast forward 15 or so years, and now I use Synology NAS Units with Hitachi Touro External Hard Drives which perform nightly, weekly functions for local back ups. Many Synology units have a USB port which can be mounted and included in back up scripts, I have a rugged USB Waterproof Pen in there with important files on. The USB drive is stored around 8ft away in a cupboard.

Once I can get fibre (NOT cable, I don’t trust Virgin after the Virgin Media cView issues), I will start to use cold storage like Amazons Glacier or similar, but stuck on ADSL the upload speed limits me, but with fibre there is no excuse not to use a service like this.

Not ideal or business purposes but Google Drive is 1tb for £60 per year, and Google Photos allow unlimited free hi resolution image storage. These should be used for non sensitive data, always worth using.

Hitachi Reliability

In addition to my own storage, I want to touch on hardware Hitachi, I were around when IBM Death Stars (which went on to become Hitachi Deskstars) were literally melting and vaporising themselves, but now Hitachi Reliability is Legendary. I make a point of buying the same drive from multiple sources or on various different days so they are the same drive but different batches. I were also a little irked when Western Digital took over Hitachi, I feared WD would take over Hitachi’s tech but seems WD bought Hitachi for the technology to improve their own.

When you are building your storage needs and requirements, you should research the brands you use. I am a fan of  2tb Samsung F4 Drives, and Hitachi Deskstar’s. I try to replace critical drives every 2 yrs, but I have some Samsung F4s in my media units which have 50,000+ hours of 24/7 running, and some Hitachi’s in similar conditions and they have 0 faults, and clean profiles.

Given how much effort I put in both my person and my business it astounds me that companies 10 to 1000s of times bigger than I were can make sure reckless actions.

Bottom line is, learn from their mistakes and take steps, losing everything is horrible!