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The beauty of social media sites such as twitter, they allow you to follow a whole host of different businesses as well as people. I follow a good amount of Restaurants on twitter, ones where I frequent a lot and others where I’m dying to go to. The people behind the account, make time for you, chat away to you and from those conversations, entice you into going to their Restaurant.

For me, two Restaurants stand out. Piccolino’s in Newcastle’s Quay Side and Restaurant Bar & Grill within Glasgow’s Princes Square. I love both Restaurants & the staff behind the twitter accounts. I’ve boasted about how good Restaurant Bar & Grill is already on my blog & twitter with reviews of food & events there, I can’t get enough of the place. I even got my parents hooked!

While in the Newcastle office for 2 months, I was recommended to go to Piccolino’s. So I did. It didn’t disappoint. I instantly fell in love with their Calamari, Veal Chop & Pistachio Ice Cream. I’ve recommended the Restaurant to everyone and anyone who goes to Newcastle, even my father who lives & works in Paris but goes to the Newcastle Office of the company he works for a lot.

& Now, I’m due to go back to Newcastle for work again for a while. Piccolino’s is where I’ll be heading ASAP. They also know me very very well now as you can see from the twitter conversation below….

& that Ladies & Gentlemen is how Restaurants should use Social Media sites.

Can’t wait for my pistachio ice cream now 😀

Last night I got an email from Starbucks talking about the launch of My Starbucks Rewards and the benefits. Now, every time you pay using your Starbucks Card, you’ll get a star. Every time you collect 15 stars – you will be given a free Tall drink! Not bad.

The app’s loyalty scheme will encourage people to qualify as a ‘gold level member’ to get free drinks. Customers paying with a registered Starbucks Card will get a free drink every 15 visits. After 50 visits they move from Green to Gold Level and get extra benefits such as free espresso shots, soy, syrups and whipped cream. If you already were a Starbucks card holder, you are automatically upgraded to Gold.

Your Starbucks Card works exactly the same, you will still receive vouchers for free drinks during promotional periods and the best new feature? If you have an iPhone, you can now pay for your drinks via the Starbucks App in the UK which is available on iTunes from today. Since the launch of mobile payments in America last January, there have been over 26 million mobile transactions and approx $110 million has been loaded onto Starbucks Cards directly through the mobile app. No more worrying about trying to find your card in your bag or forgetting it at all. It’s about time!

I downloaded the new version of the Starbucks App & played around with it, up until the point where you are barcode scanned. Sadly I am nowhere near a Starbucks at the moment so I can properly try it out, which I am not happy about. Serious caffeine withdrawals!

Looks good & I can’t wait to try it! Triple Venti Caramel Skimmed Caramel Drizzle Caffè Latte anyone?

I’m a geek. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I love Apple. Work Colleagues make fun of me (& another guy David-Allan) as we are total utter Apple Lovers. No, not the Granny Smith variety (I have a thing about the skin on actual Apples, eww!) but the shiny shiny Apple Inc.

During WWDC (that’s The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference for all you n00bs) I live tweeted the entire event having utter geekasm and probably annoyed all of my 1248 followers (sorry about that but get used to it!). iOS5 & OSX Lion was introduced and with iOS5 alone, 200 new features have been introduced. Not released to the public until Fall (that’s Autumn for us Brits), I managed to get my hands on a Developers Beta copy thanks to my friend Jon & upgraded as soon as it was released. It has now been nearly 48 hours since I’ve been using iOS5 & I can honestly say I love it. Sure, it’s a beta copy & there are small bugs within it at the moment but certain features within it make it all worthwhile. Below is a sneak peak of my favourite new features.

1. Notifications
About frikin time Apple. This is one feature that I’ve been dying for & FINALLY it has come true. The entire Notification system has been completely revamped. “You get all kinds of notifications on your iOS device: new email, texts, friend requests, and more. With Notification Center, you can keep track of them all in one convenient location. Just swipe down from the top of any screen to enter Notification Center. Choose which notifications you want to see. New notifications appear briefly at the top of your screen, without interrupting what you’re doing. And the Lock screen displays notifications so you can act on them with just a swipe. Notification Center is the best way to stay on top of your life’s breaking news”. I’ve so far tested it with SMS, iMessage (more on that later!), Emails, Facebook, Twitter & Missed Calls. It works perfectly. One thing I hated in the past is that when you were on a specific application & a notification popup came through, it interrupted you. That is now a thing of a past. If you are mid task & a notification comes through, it pops up in the Notification bar at the top of the screen but doesn’t get in the way or disturb you, at all. Top Marks Apple!

2. iMessage
A brand new messaging feature to take on the likes of BBM. You can send unlimited messages from any iOS5 iPod, iPad or iPhone for free via 3G & Wifi. The feature is built into the existing Messaging app & is color coded when sending messages to differentiate between a normal sms and an iMessage. When you send a normal SMS to those who don’t have iOS5, it is green (the normal sms color), however, when you send an iMessage, it automatically turns blue & tells you at the top of the screen that it is an iMessage. Just like BBM, you can send photos, videos, locations & contacts, see when someone is typing to you and get delivery notifications when sent/read. To iMessage someone, you can either use their phone number or email address (you can add more than 1 in the iMessage settings page, I’ve added 4 email addresses people can iMessage me on). Great feature if you don’t want to give someone your phone number, instead give them an email address they can message you on. Will be interesting to see how the Mobile Phone Carriers deal with this, MMS & SMS’s will be a thing of the past for those on iOS5 which is great for someone who sends a lot of photos & international SMS’s like me.

3. Integrated Twitter
I’m a twitterholic, at over 100,000 tweets you would have probably guessed if you follow me. If you don’t, why the hell not?! Apple has now introduced integrated Twitter. Sign in via Settings & you can tweet directly from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube, or Maps. You can even update your contacts automatically & if anyone on your contact list has twitter, their username and profile pictures are added to their contact entry so you can just click on their contact entry to be taken directly to their twitter profile. Awesome! Browsing the web on Safari & want to tweet a link? It’s simple now! As well as automatically sending a photo to twitter simply using the new automatic twitter photo app powered by Photobucket (why them?!!?!?!!?!? Twitpic would have been better!).

4. Camera & Photo Updates
I rarely carry my digital camera around with me these days unless I’m going somewhere specific and know that my iPhone camera just isn’t enough. The new camera updates allow you to open the camera app from the lock screen (double click the home screen twice!), perfect for those moments where you have only a few seconds to take a photo & don’t want to miss it by unlocking, then finding the camera app and waiting for it to load, missing the photographic opportunity. You can now also press the volume-up button to take photos rather than using the home button which is a great new feature, one that should have been there from the start. The new editing features within the photo app allow you to crop, rotate, enhance and remove red-eyes without needing a 3rd party app (I only wish they added a resize feature!). You can organize & create albums within the device now which was one feature I was missing on iOS4.3 & fed up of a massive camera roll archive. However, when it comes to photo editing on my iPhone, nothing will take me away from Camera+, the BEST app around if you ask me!

5. iCloud
Simply put as a hard drive floating around in the sky. It is a great way to access data on all your Apple devices. iCloud stores your content so it’s always readily available from your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac or PC.“It gives you instant access to your music, apps, latest photos, and more. It keeps your email, contacts and calendars up to date across all your devices. No syncing required. No management required. In fact, no anything required. iCloud does it all for you”. You are automatically given 5GB of free iCloud storage, but because of the way iCloud stores your content, purchased music, apps, and books, as well as your photo stream, don’t count against your free storage. Only mail, documents, camera roll, account information, settings, and other app data are what the 5GB is used against. iCloud is another great feature, especially when syncing photos & documents between my iPhone & Macbook Pro. Instead of plugging in my iPhone or using a 3rd Party app to sync via wifi, I will be able to automatically access them on either device, and get the iCloud unlock option available as well. I haven’t had a chance to test this feature because it isn’t fully activated yet so I’ll probably go into detail about iCloud when July comes.

6. Reminders
I have the memory of a gold fish at times, so normally use Notes or a 3rd Party To-Do list to remind me to actually do stuff, then forget about the fact that I have a To-Do list to remind myself To-Do stuff! Reminders will help me out a lot! I normally use 3rd party apps to remind me of certain blog ideas I have, to remember to email someone later on or things to buy at the supermarket for my culinary adventures. Reminders will alert you on screen to do things and also works with iCal, Outlook, and iCloud, so changes you make update automatically on all your devices and calendars. No more gold fish brain for me!

7. App Store Purchases
I buy apps, I delete apps, I buy more apps, then delete them again. It’s a never ending cycle that I’ve fallen for. Twitter and Photography apps seem to be the ones that get me every time! I use them for a while, then get bored, I hate clutter so end up deleting them then forgetting all about them! The new look App Store Purchases feature allows you to see exactly what you have downloaded & installed on your phone right now as well as all apps previously downloaded but not currently on your device. Because of this feature, I found a few apps I lost when I restored my iPhone a few months ago and lost everything & will come in handy for people who get into the same never ending cycle like me!

So there you have it. My review of my favourite features of iOS5 which I have been testing since installing it. There aren’t many bugs on it & very stable for a beta iOS version. I can’t wait for it to be fully released to the public in the Fall (Autumn again for us Brits!). Have you installed iOS5? What are your views on it? Lemme know!

Now for some screenshots…. sorry for the ugly watermarks!

My real life alter ego is dealing with fixing computers on a daily basis ranging from teaching someone how to use a particular piece of software to removing the nastiest of viruses around the internet. So many people are affected by one of the biggest viruses to spread at present & it’s a killer removing it if you don’t really know what to do. Today alone I helped fix 5 of these & it’s hard to explain to clients how exactly they get them because frankly we don’t even know how it is spreading. Everyday thousands of new viruses are unleashed & even the most sophisticated anti-virus program cannot keep up with them all. The good thing though? We can fix them & get your computer back in working order.

The virus I’m talking about? The Security Tool Virus. This is a virus which poses as an anti-spyware/virus application. Pop-ups are unleashed all over your desktop which “detects and reports” a variety of infections you have on your system, this then dramatically slows down your computer, over loads your CPU, makes it crash & then asks for money to install the full version of the application in order to fully help you remove the infections ($50 seems like the in-figure at present!).

However, it’s a scam that so many people have fallen for & when they do click to pay (silly people!) it can unleash more viruses all over your system in a bid to steal your passwords, online banking details & other personal data.

So how do you fix it?

It’s a long ass process but worth it! Prepare to spend a few hours to completely fix the issue but in the end it will also help remove other crap & help speed up your computer.

    1. Get your computer into Safe Mode with Networking by pressing the F8 key as soon as you turn on your PC, then selecting this mode from the Advanced Boot Menu & pressing enter.

    2. Download the following programs; Malware Bytes, rKill, Stinger, Super Anti-Spyware & CCleaner. The installation & use of these programs is pretty self explanatory. They can all be run in safe mode unlike some applications. I would run rKill first as it forces all processes to be killed, then run Malware Bytes & Super Anti-Spyware simultaneously, then Stinger which blasts viruses away and lastly CCleaner which removes temp files amongst other things.

    3. After running all the scans & removing the infections, reboot your computer back into normal mode (for n00bs, that’s your normal desktop, without pressing F8 on the keyboard). It should of got rid of the nasty infection & to be safe, run a virus scan like Microsoft Security Essentials. I’m very Anti-Norton & McAfee as you can get a similar anti virus software for free rather than an expensive piece of software which attacks your RAM & slows your computer down.

If however, it still doesn’t get rid of the entire infection (highly unlikely unless ultra severe) you can manually remove it by ending some processes & going into the registry keys. I wouldn’t recommend this if you don’t know what you’re doing as you can cause more harm than good.

How to remove the infection manually:

    1. End all processes which have random numbers like 845623.exe as these ARE suspicious.

    2. Remove the following registry entries by going to Start > Run > Regedit

      * HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall  \Security Tool
      * HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Security Tool

    3. Remove the following folders & content within Regedit:

      * %UserProfile%\Application Data\{random numbers}
      * %UserProfile%\Desktop\Security Tool.lnk
      * %UserProfile%\Start Menu\Programs\Security Tool.lnk

And there you have it! Everything should now be clear & you should notice a signficant difference in the overall performance of your computer. The above applications I recommended can be used for other viruses & infections you have not just The Security Tool Virus. If you have the virus (or any other), let me know how you got on with the steps & if you are having any problems, please do not hesitate in getting in touch with me.

I wanted a way to be able to showcase my latest Recipes & Techie Tip posts on the sidebar of my blog for easy reference for my visitors (yes, you guys!) seperating them from the Recent Posts and Archives. So I found a way of using the coding for Recent Posts and adapting it to showcase a specified category ultimately highlighting a set amount of posts, in my case, 5.

The coding for this is as follows:

[cc]

Remember years & years ago, cassette tape mix-tapes were the greatest things ever? I used to get given them by friends to share our favourite songs or by a guy with little messages within the sleeve of the tape. I miss those days! But, now Suck UK has come up with the greatest idea EVER & I’m totally going to buy some of them to give to friends! You can now create your own mix-tape via USB


Create your own unique mix tape
1. ADD YOUR OWN SOUNDS TO THE USB STICK.
2. PLACE THE STICK INSIDE THE TAPE STYLE GIFT PACK.
3. WRITE YOUR OWN MESSAGE AND PLAYLIST.
4. GIVE IT TO SOMEONE YOU LOVE.

It comes with 128MB of memory & works just like a normal USB Flash Drive where you plug it into your PC or Mac and upload your chosen MP3’s (or other files, could be nice to add photos too!). You then write your own title, messages and play list all over the retro gift pack. Costing £12, you can buy it from Suck UK and there are 6 different designs to collect!

I so want one! 😎

A new feature here on my blog, I’ll be doing quick techie tips every so often & I’m kicking off with this quick & simple tip on how to intregrate facebook chat with iChat so you do not need to keep any browser windows open (and accidently close the browser mid-conversation!). This only works for those with Apple Mac’s, sorry Windows & PC users 🙂

P.S: Excuse my crappy voice, I was really tired by the time I recorded the screen cast.

Shortly before Christmas, I took the huge leap of converting to Apple after Jacqui hounded me and hounded me with all things Mac! She has this power you know, to convert people to the dark side, so you need to becareful when you talk to her mwahaha!

I got the 13″ High End Macbook Pro, the 15″ looked too big for me when I saw them side by side & after a few months of using it, I’m hooked! I’d be lost without my little Macbook now, it feels weird using a PC!

I bought a little handmade sleeve to protect my Macbook from etsy so it doesn’t get scratched, I’m like an over protective mother hahaha. It’s slightly padded & it great for when I want to take my Macbook with me on the move.

Yes Macbook’s are more expensive than normal laptop’s but it really is worth every penny. As soon as a booted my Macbook up, I was blown away by the graphic & sound performance compared to my 3 yr old Fujistu-Siemens. And I had my Mac Guru Jacqui to help me with what programs I should install right away. It did take a little getting used to at first, the keyboard, OS and shortcuts are all so different but much quicker & easier!

I use a website called Wakoopa to keep track of what programs I use on my Macbook, so if you want to add me as well, please do so by clicking here! To date, I’ve used 167 different applications both Web & Mac based, I won’t list them all but I’d be lost without Growl, Quicksilver, Photobooth (yes I’m addicted!), Coda & Cyberduck.

I’ll leave you now with photos taken on my blackberry (sorry for the quality!) of me unboxing and starting up my new baby! I still need to come up with a nickname for my Macbook, I have no clue what to call it.

Any suggestions?

A while ago Jackie & I thought about starting our own blog design business because of the amount of requests we get to design for people. So, we thought why not & have now set up JAM Dish. Our little business based in the UK, Kuwait & New York.

Why JAM Dish? Well J & M are our initials so it was an easy choice, the Dish part came from trying to pic something that fitted with JAM. In the end we chose Dish because we dish out design creations all over the interwebz 😀

We have already completed our first client which was a customized website & forum for Kuwait Crohn’s. A website which acts as an information point & support group for suffers of Crohn’s Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Kuwait.

Our own website has not been completed yet as we are building up our portfolio some more before launching our website in full but in the meantime you can go to JAM Dish & register your interest in the site which will subscribe you to all news when the site is live.

You can also join our Facebook Page to see what we are up to or you can good ol’ fashion email us at: jam[at]jamdish.com.

Ever since I started doing Customized Blog Designs with Jacqui, we’ve been emailed numerous times with requests & because we do them for free, its even better for the clients, plus it boosts our portfolio.

But, now we’re getting more & more and we’re starting to think we should start charging for them, why not make money out of something we love, especially since I’m jobless!

So the question is; how much would you pay for a custom blog design from Jacqui and me?

Would you still want a customized blog design from us if we charged you for it?

Please give us some feedback 😀

I’m thinking to start doing some tutorials on WordPress & CSS helping others out to customize their themes because I keep getting emails from people wondering how I did this & that, as well as people wanting me to design their blog.

So, do you think this is a good idea? If I do it, is there any specific tutorial you’d like to see?