Tuesday 27 August 2013

Special offer: Back to school

Nearly the end of August, my goodness. At least this year we've had something approximating a real summer! I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.

Now we're all in that final week or so of 'back to school' mode. If you have children returning to school or college, you might be relishing the thought of regaining a bit of time and space for you! If it's back to your 'normal' (whatever 'normal' might be) routine after time away - or simply time out - you might (as I did) have had a bit of time to think about any changes you'd like to make to that life. There's nothing like a pause, or a different environment, to give you a change of perspective.

Are you wondering whether you could get your life into better working order? Looking at clutter that has accumulated and unable to know where to start, or where to dispose of it? Thinking (don't shoot me) about the fact that the Next Big Thing is Christmas, and all the organisation that goes with that?

You might be wary of spending a whole day on this project. It might be hard to find enough time - or enough money. However, you'd be amazed at how much can be achieved in a short space of time. (For a few ideas, have a look at this post from last year.)

As a 'back-to-school' incentive, I'm rerunning a successful promotion from this time last year: a two hour session at a special price, allowing you the opportunity to either target one specific matter and get some ideas and motivation, or to use it as an introduction to the huge difference that can be made to your life by a slightly longer-term approach.

Two hours of consultancy time is usually charged at £80. From now until the end of September 2013, I'm offering this at a very special £50. (See 'Practicalities' below.)

What could I help you with in two hours?

  • We could go through your house or office and find opportunities to improve storage, shelving, furniture placing, sourcing appropriate items online where necessary and creating your shopping list if needed.
  • We could actually declutter that cupboard, that set of drawers, that wardrobe you can't face - yes, it really could be possible in that time.
  • We could spend time at your computer, finding easy ways to achieve regular tasks, or helping you find faster, more elegant ways to do things.
  • We could look at ways in which you might streamline your diary and contacts.
  • We could work together on your use of social media, showing you how to control Twitter and Facebook, rather than letting it control you.

These are just a few ideas. What do you think? Go on, give it a try... contact me today, and let me know how I can help you.

A few practicalities:

  • This offer is open to work booked by 30th September, and performed by 31st October, 2013.
  • Travel expenses will be charged at 45p per mile.
  • For a two-hour session, it's not really practical for me to travel further than around 15 miles in each direction! So this offer is limited to those roughly within that area (have a look here for my location in the heart of Norfolk).
  • Usual terms & conditions and payment conditions apply.
  • This offer cannot be combined with any other special offers (e.g. the Taster session).

Monday 19 August 2013

Selling things

Putting my money where my mouth is...

From time to time, I have a major blitz in my own home. Books, music and clothes are our main clutter culprits (yes, even when it's my profession these things happen). A lot of the stuff goes to local charity shops; but there are a few places where I can make a bob or two by selling things reasonably easily.

If you'd like to see what I have available, please follow the following links to my accounts and listing pages:

Green Metropolis: books sold at a fixed rate of £3.75

Amazon.co.uk: mostly books

Ebay: anything and everything

- and, of course, if you want to try out these selling avenues yourself and want some help, just let me know!

PS: and when I want to get rid of something really obscure, or large, or heavy, and just want it to go to a good home, there's always Norfolk Freegle.

Friday 9 August 2013

Facebook scams & hoaxes: fight back

It's no news to any of my friends that I turn into a Rotweiller when faced with yet another pointless / manipulative / malicious / downright brainless posting on here. I love Facebook for the social, sharing, inspiring and amusing possibilities it affords, but I suppose it's human nature that there will always be morons who want to spoil it for others.

Some will be seriously harmful (taking you to websites with malicious code). Some will compromise security. Some will be 'likewhores' (gathering as many likes and followers as possible purely in order to sell the pages on at inflated prices). Some will be tasteless and distressing. Whichever category they come into, these are the clutter of social media (the more of the ugly and useless you can discard, the easier it is to find the useful and the beautiful).

So here's a very quick set of tips:

  • When you see something SHOCKING and using LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS and EXCLAMATION MARKS! - be suspicious.
  • When you see something that urges you to 'share this with all your friends now' - be suspicious.
  • When you are asked to do something that seems entirely pointless ("Name a drink without an E in it! I bet you can't!") - be suspicious.
  • When something (e.g. a free iPad or Macbook Air, a high-value voucher, a hugely expensive airline ticket) sounds too good to be true... well, you know the rest of that one.

Not sure?

  • Google a key phrase from the posting.
  • Search Facebook for the real page for the business purporting to give away some high-value prize. It will be there, trust me.
  • Check out one of the pages listed below.
  • Ask me.
  • Above all: please, please don't repost it 'just in case'.

Now: Follow the guys who know. Ensure that these pages' posts turn up in your Timeline and you'll quickly become aware of what's real and what's best avoided.






Just do it. Click through to these, 'like' them, keep an eye out for what they say. It's not hard, it can save us all a lot of irritation and hassle, and it keeps our social media lives the way they should be: fun, informative and generous.

Oh, and if you need to ask a specific question and you want a friendly geek, you know where I am:


Thursday 8 August 2013

Cutting an image down to size

Digital photography has come a long way in the quality stakes. The photos that can be taken even on your SmartPhone, never mind on a 'real' camera, can be of sharp enough quality (DPI, or dots-per-inch) to be printed to poster size.

However, this does have a drawback if you want to upload an image to somewhere on the internet. A photo that comes out of your camera as, say, 2500 x 1900 pixels, and as a result is around 3-4 MB in size, won't be appropriate if what you're wanting to do is to use it as your Twitter photo, or as a mugshot - which would be displayed at, say, 200 pixels wide. Some websites won't accept anything that large; and if you do upload it to your website at full size, it will take an irritatingly long time to download - especially for those (like myself) in areas where broadband is much slower.

So how do you resize a photo to a sensible size? Some sites will automatically do this resizing for you - Facebook does, for example. However, it's worth knowing how to do it yourself.

There are many excellent free options around, including Irfanview, Google Picasa and many more. [Just search for 'photo editor' and you'll find plenty to choose from.] If you want to get a little more creative about using your photographs, it's well worth investing a little time in learning how to use these valuable tools (and you know where to come if you need help!).

However, for a quick editing tool, online and without the need to install any software, there are loads more options. Try this:


It's very intuitive.

  • Click on Browse; find the photo you want to edit; open it. 
  • Choose Adjustment; choose Resize. You'll see the number of pixels used in your original photo. 
  • Leaving Keep Proportions in place (so the shape stays the same), change one of the two dimensions to the desired size. Apply. 
  • Click Save. Choose the quality you want (slide it to 100% to preserve the original image quality). The new file size will be displayed. 
  • Finally, if you don't want to overwrite the original image, type in a new name. 

Abracadabra - a much smaller and more web-friendly image.