General

Chavtowns – a really funny site…

ChavetteWhat a great website!

I’ve got no work done this morning laughing my way through this – it’s a must see website for anyone in the UK. The reviews of various towns around the country are fantastic, highly amusing – and judging from the places I read that I know, filled with more than a smattering of accuracy.

And it’s not only the articles that are funny – perhaps even more amusing are the comments from people defending their little corner of the green and promised land!

I rarely put comments on sites but couldn’t resist having another dig at Thorpe Park Security, where the page described Chertsey as being “One third pikey scum another is full of chavs and chavettes and the remaining minority are pretty decent folk. I guess if that’s the pool Thorpe Park recruitment people have to choose from – it explains a lot!

Hat’s off to whoever did it – fantastic idea and a great read!

If you’ve got half an hour or more to kill Chavtowns is a must read!

Happy New Year!

Well, it’s the time of year again that we are expecting a run of traffic on our Lanzarote Relocation site – a site that offers information for people thinking of moving to Lanzarote. With all the New Year resolutions and the new year – fresh start attitude that goes with the beginning of the year we always see a spike of traffic in January.

As ever we’d give anyone the same advice as usual;

  • Take off the rose tinted glasses – becoming an ex-pat in Lanzarote, as anywhere else, is not as easy as it first seems, especially if you need to make a living.
  • Don’t buy immediately, make sure the move is really for you. Rent for at least the first six months, get to know the areas, get to know the property market, and spend time to find out which are the reputable estate agents before considering buying property.
  • Follow personal recommendations – but also be aware that not everyone are as genuine as they seem. Earnings are not what they are in the UK, so a ‘kick back’ culture is exploited by many to generate business/supplement poor earnings.
  • Try to learn at least a little of the language – it’s a basic courtesy to our Spanish speaking hosts…

We’ve been here some years now and have seen all sorts of people come through the Lanzarote Relocation site. Dreamers who will never make the move, people who try but are not fully committed, some who really want to but it’s not the right time just yet, people who try with the best of intentions yet don’t succeed – and of course some real success stories!

For us the site has been a real success for its visitors – and we think the main reasons are that we are honest and open about who and what we are, and the advice and information we offer is free. We make very little money from the site – and we have no wish to. It  pays for its costs with affiliate advertising – and certainly doesn’t even come close to paying for the large amount of time spent on it. But money was never a part of our thinking behind this site. We simply wanted to pass on what we have learned from moving to and living on the island to others.  The site has gone from strength to strength, and continues to grow. We’re very proud to be able to say we are not part of the ‘kick back’ culture that so many are as we take no financial incentive for recommending any of the companies on it.

Yes – Lanzarote has suffered from the recession – despite what some will tell you, the property market is still pretty stagnant from what we see – which on the upside means there are bargains to be had. Many ex-pats are heading back to the UK as it has become increasingly harder to make a living or find jobs in Lanzarote. Bars have closed, as have many other businesses, tourism numbers have been down – though the island has seemed relatively busy over the Christmas period… It’s probably not the best time to move out here right now unless you have money or real confidence in your ‘plan’. If you’re going to be dependant upon finding a job – it may be best to shelve your ideas until the global market changes.

We’ve been very lucky with our business – we’ve continued to grow and are still growing with website builds for clients on the island and in the UK. We’re fairly confident in saying that with over 150 active clients in Lanzarote, Gandy-Draper is most likely the largest English speaking web design business on the island – with our client base being made up of English, Spanish and German clients.

Our Canary Nightlife site continues to grow with new clients signing up in Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Tenerife over the course of 2009 and shows great potential for further growth.

Thankfully, it’s been a fairly good year all round for us – life is what you make it! Make no mistake though, we work hard for what we have – life on a holiday island isn’t necessarily a holiday…

Happy New Year to everyone on and off the island!

Photography

One thing not that many people in Lanzarote know about me was that I originally did a degree in photography – but never chose to follow it as a career. I’ve taken on the occasional project over the years (usually under duress), and have spent some time teaching the subject (far more appealing to me than the pressures of professional photography) in higher education both in the UK and US… But, I still keep my hand in for my own pleasure and amusement and sell the occasional image through photo libraries.

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Geoff Holt’s Atlantic crossing

PB284302Every now and then in life you meet someone who really makes an impression on you. This afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting Geoff Holt and his lovely assistant Susana…

Geoff was the fist quadriplegic to sail single handed around Great Britain – and is currently preparing to become the fist quadriplegic to cross the Atlantic unassisted with the sailing and navigation of the boat. Susana is accompanying Geoff to help with his personal needs

His boat, Impossible Dream, is currently moored at the Rubicon Marina in Playa Blanca – you can’t miss it! It’s a seriously impressive catamaran with his name all over it! The 60 foot boat has been purpose built built by a fellow disabled sailor – and is worth, we were told, in the region of £2,000,000!

We wish Geoff and Susana a safe and enjoyable crossing when they set off on the 10th of December and are looking forward to following their adventures on Geoff’s website – www.geoffholt.com.

Geoff needs all the support he can get – so if you do have a Lanzarote related website, do please give his website a link and wherever possible your support.

PeopleString – can you really make money just by joining a Social Networking site?

join people stringEarlier today I was asked by a friend to check out whether a particular website was a scam – a common request!

Whilst researching the site in question I  came across a link to peoplestring.com – a social networking site.  Nothing  new there I hear you say! Thousands have sprung up on the back of the success of MySpace, Facebook and the god awful phenomenon that is Twitter…

But this one is different – it’s free to join and they claim that they pay you to attract people to, and use the site. The only immediately apparent catch is that you have to accept a certain amount of junk mail. Not really a problem, getting it sent to a Hotmail account or similar will minimize that inconvenience.

The principle is that you get paid for recruiting new members and there’s also an ‘upgrade’ (you get a percentage of if people buy that from your links) – which entitles people who pay $200 to a larger stake in the profit share they describe, which is based on their advertising revenue (this I wonder about when Facebook and Twitter are reportedly losing money on a daily basis!). It’s all very MLM, and seems very ‘spammy’ with your ‘make money on the Internet’ sharks…

But – the key thing here is it’s free! I like free! So, I’ve signed up to see if what they say is true… I’ll be back later to report on if it works or not….

If you fancy helping with my ‘experiment’ click here and join….

Contextual advertising placement…

Advertising gone wrongSounds like a great idea to place ads in context with the text of a page. It is, but not always – take a look at this howler from The Guardian.

All to often we rely on the ‘judgement’ of these systems – this is what can happen when it all goes horribly wrong.

Click on the image to see it full size and take a look at the headline on the left, and then the ad that shows up on the right.

The ulimate console platform

On a lighter note than usual – surely this has to be the ultimate console game! This is reportedly a drone being flown in Afghanistan from a bunker in Nevada…

Quality is king…

Sometimes I long for the old days before everyone had access to the Internet.

Blogs for instance sound like a fantastic idea – as does social networking. Culturally they offer a great opportunity – in reality they have created a huge opening for many individuals to deceive.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to sell stuff over the Internet but it seems millions of fools appear to think that if they put up masses on nonsense content – filled with affiliate links to tell you (when they haven’t) how to make a million through some scheme or blog. I just can’t stand the dishonesty of it all!

Cheap domains and affordable web space have a lot to answer for, as does social networking. Putting a QUALITY website up takes real time, effort and commitment in both design and contents. Though clearly many neither realize or accept it looking at their sites.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction – the quality of the Internet appears to me to be the direct opposite of its growth. Quality content is getting harder and harder to find year on year.

Content is not king – quality is? But unfortunately quality is dying a death all over the net…

Stop moaning about the recession and dip your hand in your pocket!

Every now and then you stumble across a real gem of a website – today’s was Kiva. A site distributing micro-finance to small business around the world, mostly the third world.

If you don’t know what micro-finance is – put very simply, it’s a small loan – usually from a number of investors to small business owners. Its a way to help people grow a sustainable business, and get most of your money back…

You can loan as little as ~ US$25 and make a real and lasting difference to someone who needs your help!

Lanzarote is a little rock and a very closed community in many ways – sometimes we forget there’s a big world out there, and that we can actually help make a difference.

Visit the Kiva website and see how easy it is.