The title of this article is a reference to the historic Coca-Cola advert. Whilst I’m not sure I’d class it as the Christmas season yet, it’s pretty clear that retailers think it is.
Here in the UK, many shops have had Christmas stock on sale for over a month now, only taking it down for a brief interlude to replace it with Halloween and bonfire night stock. In just over two weeks, it’s the infamous Black Friday, which is meant to be when the Christmas shopping rush really gets started.
One of the key moments in British Christmas is now when the main Christmas advertisements start showing. I’ve yet to see the iconic Coca-Cola ad, but last Friday saw the launch of the festive John Lewis ad.
Over the last decade, John Lewis’s Christmas adverts have become rather famous and somewhat of a seasonal event. Each year the public sceptically awaits the ad to see if it’s going to better last years. This year’s tells the heart-warming (as always!) story of a little girl and an elderly man who lives on the moon.
This years attracted the usual attention. #ManOnTheMoon was the number one trending topic in the UK for most of ads release day (last Friday) and it was instantly parodied. Here are some of my favourites.
So the real question is: is this excitement just retailers trying to encourage us to spend more money? I’m not sure many people would argue in favour of Black Friday being an event that spreads Christmas cheer, but is there anything wrong with a festive advert pulling at your heart strings?
Genuine happiness creation, or just a clever marking ploy?
P.S Next time you’re in a food retailer, why not ask an assistant if they have any Christmas spirit in stock!
In some parts of the world Christmas is well on the way, and shoppers are happily spending the bank’s money in shopping centres to buy presents for their loved ones.
In my family we have a different approach, and I would like readers to consider the model. It might possibly go some way to improving the welfare of many and the health of the global community at large.
The charity OXFAM offer a wonderful service called Oxfam Unwrapped. Why not buy a present for someone but have it delivered to someone who really needs it? I like this system, although I have some suggestions that I will make later.
So each year I buy my brother a set of school books for English language teaching through Oxfam. My brother speaks good English however, and so Oxfam send the books to a school in Malawi, where they serve a full class of bright and eager Malawian kids. My brother receives a card directly from Oxfam letting him know that his gift from me of 26 school books has been delivered by Santa to the school.
Everyone is happy.
The Unwrapped service offers all kinds of gifts, but I would stick to inanimate objects, project funding or education rather than live animals, although this is just a personal choice. The introduction of a live animal might cause problems to a family though (only my personal idea), as circumstances might not be ideal for their arrival.
I must admit that even living in affluent Cambridge Massachusetts, the arrival of a cow or even a couple of chickens or goats would not be too easy to manage, and I am sure that other situations exist that might not be improved, albeit through good will, by addition to the family. I am sure Oxfam know what they are doing though, they have been working in this field for many years.
Another possibility is to donate to research, projects or product development.
I like the idea of sending something to benefit others, and there are many ways of doing this. Just for a single example take a look at these coffee mugs. Each mug has the logo of the beneficiary printed on it, and 50% of the price is donated directly to the organizations.
Or donate to a project that is working to improve lives. The Liter of light project I wrote about earlier in the year is in need of funds, and there is another local project that is close to my heart that involves playing football (soccer).
A group of Harvard University students (women) had an idea a few years ago that has finally come to fruition. They have designed a football that can convert the energy created as it is being used into electric power. So the ball has a small socket within its cover, an inductive coil mechanism turns the kinetic energy into enough power to run a light for 3 hours after just 15 minutes of play.
After a full match the ref can charge his or her mobile phone.
Soccket, as the ball is called, is currently under trial in South Africa, and they could do with some advance orders to help its development. They are giving the balls away for free. You can buy one at the company website, and they will give it to someone on your behalf. They also have a skipping rope (jump rope) that works in the same way as the ball, so if football is not your sport of choice you can still join in the fun.
If we all diverted a portion of the money we spend this Christmas to projects whose goals are to improve lives, we could make a lot of difference. We could avoid battling other shoppers, buying needless things, creating thousands of tons of waste and modify an extremely wasteful and destructive economic system.
We could all do a little bit of good, and as William Shakespeare once said “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world”.
Today is Christmas Eve, which means that billions of people around the world will be celebrating Christmas tomorrow. Different people of different cultures celebrate Christmas in different ways; some celebrate today, many tomorrow, and others over a twelve day period.
If you live in the Britain, France, the USA, Russia, Germany, Canada, Australia, or a (big) handful of other countries around the world, then you are probably familiar with the character of Santa Clause, or Father Christmas.
Christindl, Pere Noel, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or whatever you call him, is a man who lives at the North Pole and sets out to deliver presents to good children across the world on Christmas Eve.
Good children will go to sleep on Christmas Eve and in the morning awake to find their stocking full and presents underneath the Christmas tree, courtesy of Santa. In return Santa asks only that children are good, and he uses information that robins relay to him to decide whether a child should go on the naughty list, or the nice list – he checks each list twice, just to be sure!
Track Santa With NORAD
This year, why not track Santa on his journey around the world with NORAD? Every year, the US military undergo a massive operation involving countless jets, radars and satellites to follow Santa on his journey, for the benefit of children everywhere, and to make sure that he doesn’t run into any difficulties.
From December the 24th every year, you can track Santa thanks to NORAD. You can follow his route, watch videos as he completes parts of his journey, and learn about the different places he visits. As I write this Santa is over New Zealand, and has just visited Christchurch.
Navigation systems manufacturer TomTom has just launched a Christmas campaign entitled ‘TomTom Gives you More’. Most advertising campaigns usually have a flashy advertisement which costs a large chunk of the budget, but this year, TomTom are taking a different approach.
If you live in the UK, you may know that food retailer Waitrose has decided that instead of spending tens of thousands on a Christmas advert this year, they are going to have a simple, cheaper ad and donate more funds (funds from the advertising budget) to charity.
TomTom are doing something similar to this, they haven’t blown the entire marketing budget on advertising, so are spending the remainder of the funds on prizes!
Don’t believe me? Check out their attempt at making a viral online ad – with their very limited budget!
Despite the limited budget, I really like the video. That said I am not sure that mashing together some of the greatest YouTube virals will make a new one… I guess we will have to wait and see!
I suppose you could say that TomTom are taking the role of Santa’s helper this Chrismas, giving everyone the chance to win some extra Christmas presents!
The ultimate prize is six unforgettable driving adventure experiences for four people. The locations of the driving experiences are: Ruta 40 (Argentina); the Garden Route (South Africa); the Grand Alpine Tour (Europe); the Malaysian Roundabout; the Australian Coastal Route; and the Pacific Coastal Highway (California).
The routes all sound amazing, and I know from personal experience that the Garden Route in South Africa is the trip of a lifetime! I went last summer and was taken aback by the amazing scenery and diverse wildlife. I really loved my time in South Africa, it was a great experience.
There are also thousands of other prizes to be won, including navigation smartphone apps, Nike sports watches, gift vouchers, and state of the art TomTom sat navs.
So, how do you go about winning your extra Christmas presents? Well, if you go to TomTom’s website you can visit the competition page, where you get the chance to ‘unwrap’ a continent from the world map, which is festively ‘wrapped up’.
Once you have unwrapped a continent, you can upload a file, telling TomTom why you should win! The file could be a video, a song, short story, poem or anything else you feel you could do to persuade TomTom you should win! If your entry is judged as original and fun, you could win one of the trips on offer!
The competition runs until the 15th of January 2013, so you have plenty of time to enter and be in with a chance of winning 🙂
If you decide to enter and play the TomTom Christmas game, you can get extra coins (in the game) if you enter this code: Bloggers_TomTom which is unique to Technology Bloggers!
Petrol cars have no future. That is a fact, in 50 years time there will be no crude oil left on planet earth (assuming current consumption rates don’t decrease) therefore there will be no oil left to make petroleum or diesel.
Biofuel, hydrogen, LPG and electric cars are the future, there is no doubt about that. Right now there are many hybrid cars which use petrol with another power source, but in the future, petrol from natural oil will be no more.
There are of course other ways you can power cars, using compressed air is one method as is water-cell technology. These are not however currently concepts in mass production. If you follow those two links, you will find posts written by Jonny on the concepts mentioned.
Arguably the greenest option for the future is electric cars. The electricity used to power the cars can be generate from renewable sources, (it isn’t necessarily, but that is an option) and electricity from renewables is a lot less damaging to the planet than energy generated from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – be it in on the micro scale inside an engine of a car, or on a macro scale in a network of power stations.
Electric cars are starting to look more and more normal, (in the past some have looked somewhat abstract!) and are becoming more efficient every year.
The Future Car Challenge
This year, British Gas (the company who installed Remote Heating Control in my home) became an official partner of The Future Car Challenge. The Future Car Challenge is an annual event, which showcases the latest developments in the electric car industry. This year, members from the British Gas team drove fro Brighton up to London, with the aim of using the least amount of energy as possible, using the latest electric cars. The team included comedian Robert Llewellyn, Ben Collins, (A.K.A. ‘The Stig’), and Commonwealth gold medal swimmer Ross Davenport.
British Gas are setting up a national charging network, to help increase the viability of electric cars. A charging network is as vital to electric cars as service stations are to petrol and diesel cars. Some electric cars do have the ability to transfer energy generate from breaking into electricity, (as seem in Formula 1 cars) however this alone isn’t enough to power them, so electric recharge points are essential.
Here is a statement from British Gas on their involvement with electric cars:
“British Gas is dedicated to making the world a more sustainable place now and in the future. We are leading the way in providing expertise and charging solutions in the Electric Vehicle market through partnering with Nissan, Renault, Hitachi Capital, Toyota and Vauxhall.
British Gas’ dedicated charging solutions are safer, convenient and more compatible than plugging electric vehicles directly into the mains supply socket at home. Not only do we offer charging solutions that can cut charging times by around a third, but British Gas also offers its customers specially designed tariffs to help them charge for less.”
To celebrate the event, we have five solar power car sets to giveaway, courtesy of British Gas!
The prize is a John Lewis Solar Go Go Car, (click the link for more info) a cool kit from which you can build your own solar powered car! Okay it isn’t quite as good as an electric car, but it looks great fun, and could make a fantastic Christmas present…
The giveaway will run for 8 days, from today until the end of next Wednesday (12.00am on Thursday the 13th).
The prizes will be sent out by British Gas to the UK only, so if you don’t live in the UK I am afraid you can’t enter. If you have an address in the UK you can get the prize sent to if you win, you are in!
How To Enter
It is really easy to enter the competition, all you need to do is enter an email address we can contact you on (if you win) in the Rafflecopter widget below. If you like the blog on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or are subscribed to our feed via email, then you can gain some extra entries.
Want a Solar Go Go Car kit? Enter below!
Winners will be emailed on Thursday the 13th to let them know that they have won, and will be announced on the blog shortly after.
We all love our gadgets, some people more than others of course – we’ve all got parents or grandparents who haven’t got a clue how to turn a computer on, let alone check their emails or catch up with their family on Facebook. But for the gadget lovers among us there’s nothing better than getting home with a new bit of kit, setting it up and turning it on for the first time. It’s like a birthday and Christmas all rolled into one!
But while we all have such affection towards the latest offerings, what would we actually call “essential’? After all, the very latest devices and gadgets don’t come cheap and disposable income isn’t exactly at its peak at the moment. We’re finding that we have to budget more, and even wait until the price drops after a few months before we can get our hands on some devices, an agonizing wait for many I’m sure. So if we had to prioritize our gadgets, what would they be?
Of course, you have to have a laptop. Tablets and smartphones are great but sometimes you just need a computer to get certain jobs done as well as they possibly can be with a bigger screen and better all round packages. You’ve got numerous top quality manufacturers to choose between, all offering different packages, with Apple, Dell, HP and co all vying for the title of top laptop manufacturer.
Obviously, if you’re working on your laptop at home for an important project for work, school, college or University, it’s vital that you have a way to get it off the computer and into a tangible document. For that reason you need a printer capable of producing your work in high quality, something Dell printers for one are synonymous for, while other features can include scanners, photocopiers and fax machine capabilities.
Then when you leave the house it’s vital that you can stay connected to the rest of the world. Smartphones such as the iPhone, BlackBerry and Samsung Galaxy give you the ability to check your emails on the move, update you location to Facebook, look into what Lady Gaga has had to say on Twitter and even buy things, you can do it all while you’re out of the house. Oh, and you can text and make calls too of course!
One of the must-have items of the moment, tablet computers such as the iPad are taking the world by storm. On the train, in the boardroom, at the park, they’re all using them as perfect hybrids between smartphones and computers.
Finally, of course, you have to have an iPod or similar device to listen to your favourite music on. Whether you’re in the gym, on the train or just relaxing, it’s always good to have some music to keep you in the mood for whatever you’re doing.
These are what I believe are essential home gadgets, but what is your views? Do you consider all these gadgets essential, and if not, which are yours?
Google always strike me as a fun and playful global giant, which always tries to be a little bit eccentric and different. This year in the run up to Christmas, I have so far found three of Google’s ‘Easter egg’ – which is basically another way of saying hidden, but findable jokes.
The first of the Easter eggs I have found is some Christmas lights. These come up underneath the search box when you search for the word ‘Christmas’ or many different phrases with the world ‘Christmas’ in them, like ‘Merry Christmas’. It’s not much, but it is festive 🙂
The second Easter egg is much more exciting! When you search for the words ‘Let It Snow’ Google will take you to the search result, and everything will seem normal – for a second or two. Then all of a sudden, snowflakes will start to fall from the top of your browser, and the screen will start to mist up! You can then demist your browser either by clicking ‘Defrost’ or by using your mouse – although you still need to click the button to start using Google again. Its a really good touch by Google, really gets you in the holiday spirit!
The final Easter egg I have found is with the Google owned site YouTube. On some videos – I still haven’t found a link – a snowflake icon comes up on the bottom bar of the video, which if you click, gives you falling snow over the video, which you can control with your mouse.
After a bit of research I have found one more Easter egg! If you type in ‘Hanukkah’ you get some special decorations, which appear like the Christmas lights, underneath the search box.
Finally, something that isn’t actually hidden, but worth mentioning is Google’s message from Santa. SendACallFromSanta.com is courtesy of Gmail, and lets you design a personalised message which Santa can either phone home with, (if you live in the USA or Canada) or create an animated video which can be sent via email. It is totally free and can be used for Children and Adults alike, due to the various serious and humorous options.
Google seem to want to get us in the festive spirit, so now give you my festive wishes 🙂