non-wine

All sorts of things that have only a peripheral, if any, relationship to wine.

What camera should I buy? An overview of camera systems and recommendations not just for Christmas

And now for something completely different – photography. Or, to be precise, cameras. The photos on the Wine Rambler may not always show it but I do spend a lot of time with the camera these days, and – partly due to an extensive travel schedule over the past years – I also spent much time at airport camera shops. As a result I have handled most cameras currently available and I thought I share my impressions of the different systems as it may be useful for those of you considering a new camera for Christmas (or any other occasion).

I will illustrate this article with a selection of my photos to make this more engaging and also to give you a chance to read my comments in the context of the photography I do.

Four months of pain. An open letter to Virgin Media about customer service failure

The principles of good customer service are the same in any industry, be it the wine trade - or media and cable services. Issues may and will arise, it is how you deal with them. Over the past four months, Virgin Media have failed me in an impressive way with regards to customer service. Whether sharing my story via this open email will make Virgin Media reconsider their approach I am not sure, but at least it should inform or, all else failing, entertain others.

Dear Virgin Media,

Why I will never buy a Dell computer again

For many years I have been a happy and loyal Dell customer, using Dell machines at home and at work. Those were the days when my Dell PCs were trusty. Those were the days when I associated Dell with good service. Those were the days when I recommended Dell to friends, colleagues and contacts. Well, those good old times are over as the Dell I bought last summer is still not working properly, and more importantly as Dell have stopped responding to my emails.

This is not a wine-related topic, but as three Dell computers were used to initially build and now to maintain the Wine Rambler I have decided to ramble about how a small problem was made big by a service failure.

A Merry musical Christmas from the Wine Rambler and the Peanuts

From my window I can see the snow falling. Food is being prepared. Christmas wine delights sorted. It is time to wish all of you a wonderful and very Merry Christmas! What could be better than this peacful tune played by the importantly talented Schroeder:

torsten Friday, 24/12/2010

No fax machine? No reservation! Fine dining the hard way with Gordon Ramsay

Imagine you want to go to one of the world's finest restaurants, but they (almost) won't let you because - not because they don't like your shoes, but because you don't own a fax machine. Sounds strange? Not if you are Gordon Ramsay.
I love wine. I love food. I love both together. As often as possible I head out to try exciting restaurants, of which London is full. It just so happens that I rarely write about it as I enjoy the experience so much that I do not want to take notes or annoy other guests by taking photographs. Because of this, my first posting on a fine dining experience is a negative one - a lesson about how one of the world's finest restaurants turns away customers and even puts their money at risk. Put your hands together for Gordon Ramsay's three Michelin star restaurant in Royal Hospital Road, London.

Logfiles, webstats, Google Analytics and the fight against blog comment spammers continued

This second, sadly wine-free, instalment of the series on how to fight comment spam (read the first here) is looking into identifying and fighting spammers in a slightly different way. While the method I describe in this posting is not for everyone, the information may still be of interest to you, especially if you want to understand how many visitors your website has, what Google Analytics does, what server logfiles are and how to interpret these numbers through software such as Webalizer or AWStats.

Like most bloggers we are curious to know who is reading our blog. Some of our readers we know through the comments they leave, emails that they send, through Twitter or even personal contacts - which, I hasten to add, makes them more than just 'readers' but partners in a conversation. Even so, as a blogger you also want to know about those who just read your blog and do not directly engage with you – maybe to boost your ego ('Hundred people visit my blog every day.') or because you want to know if you are doing a good job engaging the visitors, i.e.: do they return? do they spend much time on the site? what proportion of your readers leave comments? where are they from?

Basically, there are three ways of finding out about this.

How to deal with comment spam on your blog

As you will have gathered from the heading, I am not writing about wine today. Instead I deal with an unpleasant topic that most bloggers struggle with: comment or blog spam and how to fight it. Like most blogs, the Wine Rambler is targeted by a spammers who aim to get as many links to their websites distributed across the Internet so that they can make more money from selling rubbish products. Comment forms on blogs are an easy target as they were designed to make it easy for people to leave comments with links attached to them. To make their dirty work easier, spammers use more or less sophisticated software, the so called spambots (spam robots), to trawl the Internet for any comment or mail form they can find and then bombard it with spam. We get dozens, sometimes hundreds of these visitors per day and eventually decided it was time to do something about it.

example of comment spam

Wine Rambler Music Hour: Ramble On

Autumn sun. Full moon. And now's the time, the time is now, to sing my song: Ramble On.

Leaves are falling all around, It's time I was on my way.
Thanks to you, I'm much obliged for such a pleasant stay.
But now it's time for me to go. The autumn moon lights my way.
For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it's headed my way.
Sometimes I grow so tired, but I know I've got one thing I got to do...

Ramble On, And now's the time, the time is now, to sing my song.
I'm goin' 'round the world, I got to find my girl, on my way.
I've been this way ten years to the day, Ramble On,
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

Got no time to for spreadin' roots, The time has come to be gone.
And to' our health we drank a thousand times, it's time to Ramble On.