Archive for February, 2009

Daffodils for David

The 1st of March is St. David’s Day, the day when the Welsh pin on daffodils (or leeks) to honour their patron saint. Like St Patrick’s Day in Ireland, this is a day of national importance, and in recent years there have been campaigns to make it a bank holiday across the country, and celebrations have become more and more widespread, from parades through town centres, to concerts and eisteddfodau everywhere from pubs to primary schools. You can enjoy St. David’s Day wherever you’re from (after all, not being Irish never stopped you having a few pints of Guiness), but you never know what’s hiding in your family tree, so do a little research and you might be surprised to find some Welsh in you too. Happy St. David’s Day, or as our celtic brothers would say, Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus!

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Will you be our friend?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, you’ve probably heard of (and lost many hours to) the social networking site Facebook. Having started as an internet craze, Facebook is now one of the most well established social networking sites on the web and has made keeping in touch with people even easier, and arguably a lot more fun. Here at Proporta we have our very own Facebook page and would like you to join us. Click here to become a fan or a friend, and view the exclusive offers which are only available to our lovely Facebook pals. See you there.

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Frying pans at the ready

Whether you like yours sweet or savoury, we’re sure you love Shrove Tuesday (also known as Pancake Day) just as much as everyone at Proporta – we’ve been swapping ideas for toppings all day (Debbie opts for mushrooms, Natalie for sugar and lemon). Shrove Tuesday is the day before the Christian tradition of Lent begins, and is the last chance for us all to be a bit greedy before attempting to give something we like up for the forty days until Easter Sunday. Got any good recipes for pancakes or weird and wonderful toppings you favour? Leave us a comment, oh and be careful flipping those pancakes!

P.S. This week is a pretty good week all round, as the Friday after Shrove Tuesday is known in Britain as Kissing Friday. Kissing Friday is the only day of the year where boys are allowed to kiss girls without the fear of rejection, pucker up gals. (Please note, this holiday fell out of common use in the 1940’s so Proporta cannot guarantee any girls you try to kiss this Friday will kiss you back. You could try making them pancakes tonight though 😉 ).

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Proporta saved my iPhone

A customer recently got in touch to share his great story…

“I just wanted to thank you so much! Yesterday in a typical hurry I left my job to go home and I was thinking about my kids, dinner and my wife ;), etc. I put my iPhone on the roof of my car (I never do this!) to have a spare hand to put my jacket inside, some bags…and then got inside my car.

I started driving (I work in the outskirts of Madrid in Spain), went through a roundabout and started to descend one of the exits to get into the highway when I heard a “BUMP” on the roof, I then looked at the place I leave my iPhone in the car, it wasn’t there, and I screamed MY IPHONE!!!!

I stopped some meters away thinking of my loss…when I got out of the car a miracle had happened! It was there, it had just turned upside down and it was because I had fitted it with your excellent Dual Skin Silicone Case that kept it from sliding down the roof!

I was really, really amazed and so happy! I accelerated the car to 70km entering the highway and there it was, without a scratch.

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Thank you very much indeed for such a great product from a happy customer!”

Teddy, Madrid.

Some useful tips and tricks from Proporta

Did you know…

If you’re like most of the team at Proporta and use your mobile phone as your alarm clock, your alarm will still work even if your phone is switched off. Goodbye midnight texts from mates who should know better. Hello snooze button.

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There’s often no need to spend your money on “Simcard savers”, which back up your Smartphone, PDA or mobile cell phone data. Simply use the sync cable which came with your device, or Bluetooth if applicable, and copy it straight on to your PC.

You should keep a note of your handset’s serial (IMEI) number as it can come in handy if your device is ever lost or stolen. Either look under the battery of your device or dial *#06# as a phone number and it’ll magically appear. Write this down – If your phone gets stolen you can give this number to your service provider who will block your handset making it useless to the thief. If everyone did this it’d probably eliminate mobile phone theft.

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You can call your voicemail quickly and easily by holding down the number “1” key.

If you turn off certain functionality when not needed, i.e. your Bluetooth or wireless, you could extend your battery’s life span.

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If you find yourself in an emergency situation and you’re outside of your coverage area for your network, dial 112 from your handset and it’ll search any existing networks and get through to the emergency services. This number can also be dialled when your phone is locked.

Most mobile phones have a battery reserve which can be activated when your battery is very low. To activate it, key in *3370# and your mobile will restart with this reserve and show up to a 50% increase in battery.

Sending text messages to phones outside your own country can be much more expensive than you might think (check with your network operator for rates); a cheaper way to do it is to use an online service like Skype. You can even set your account up so that your text messages appear to come from your normal phone and responses come back to your normal phone.

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Business users

Most newer mobile phones have a great currency converter tool which allows you to exchange any given price into your own (more understandable) currency.

If you travel a lot for business, you’ll probably already know that checking in online will save you a lot of time at the airport. Also, if you are going on a short trip it’s worth packing a small carry-on bag to take on the plane rather than checking your bags in as you won’t have to wait for your bags at the carousel when you reach your destination.

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Traveling light is something which we all aim for, and Proporta’s very own Universal Emergency Charger – Travel Kit is priceless (not literally 😉 ) when it comes to making traveling simple. The kit allows you to charge everything from your MP3 player to your PDA and comes with a range of adaptors for charging around the world and in your car. Our very own jet setter Jean Pierre can vouch for that as it ensures he never runs out of juice when he is on the go (and trust us, he’s on the go an awful lot).

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The best mobile/GPRS network for coverage in the UK is O2 or Vodafone and if you are traveling to France your best bet would be Orange. Spain – Movistar, and Italy – TIM. Further a field; CSL is the best in Hong Kong, Etisalat in United Emirates, Dialog or Mobitel in Sri Lanka and AT&T in America.

If you’re on the go and carrying various devices (mobile phones, iPhone, Blackberry, iPod etc.) and their cables, the Proporta Silicone Cable Tidy will keep you knot free. The Proporta Gadget Bag also provides an ideal carrying case for all of your bits and bobs.

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Traveling practically is important, but traveling in style can be just as essential. Guard your much-used passport from the inevitable wear and tear of travel with the Proporta Passport Holder.

MP3 and iPod users

If you are using an iPod it’s good to know that as well as creating playlists whilst you are on iTunes, you can also create ‘on-the-go’ playlists. These playlists are easily made by holding down the centre button of the iPod whilst listening to a song. And if you’ve got the Genius Function on your iPod, it’ll suggest the songs that it thinks goes together and do all the hard work for you.

If your iPod is having a bad day and needs resetting, you can do this by holding the centre and bottom button down which will solve common problems like iPod freezing.

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You can synchronise your iPod with your e-mail enabling you to read mail on the go. To do this on a PC, install the free program K-Pod from http://k-deep.com/k-pod.htm; for Macs try PodMail from www.macupdate.com. Downloaded mail can then be viewed on the player via the Notes feature in the Extras menu.

Sick and tired of waking up to that irritating bleep of an alarm? Many iPods are compatible with iPod docks which you can set the time and an alarm on. You can then pick a song which will be played to you as an alarm (choose wisely – you may begin to dislike said song intensely).

If the Creative is your MP3 player of choice you’ll be pleased to find out that many of the Zen range come with radio capabilities.

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A very useful little feature is the Creative’s expandable memory, which enables you to plug your MP3 player straight into your computer meaning that your music can be downloaded and played through the MP3 Player rather than via software.

Many MP3 players can now be used to play music through car radio speakers as many car radios can find your MP3 player via an FM Radio Transmitter or a physical connector.

GPS users

GPS is a very useful piece of kit and threatens to make map related arguments a thing of the past.

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Did you know that many Satellite Navigation devices have a ‘handsfree’ option which allows you to pick up a phone call through the Sat Nav (via Bluetooth) and will continue to give you visual directions while you take the call? How considerate.

You can also store your phonebook on your GPS software so those important phone numbers are always at your finger tips and handily backed up.

If you are one of those who really enjoys driving, your GPS’s ‘free roaming’ option may be of interest to you. This option allows you to drive freely (rather than instruct you on where to go), but will continue to show you routes off the road that you are cruising along (no more dead ends).

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Sometimes you just want to go home, and most GPS software allows you the option to set home as a fixed destination, so wherever you may be (mid-journey or lost) your GPS will always guide you in the right direction.

Make sure you subscribe to your GPS software so that handy traffic updates can be stored in your Sat Nav’s memory box, allowing it to plan your journeys around these annoyances.

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GPS can be a bit of fun, and changing the voice of your navigator (or someone else’s when they’re off getting petrol) is always amusing on long journeys. You can also change the image of the car guiding you on the Sat Nav system, meaning that for a split second you can go from Metro to Aston Martin.

GPS systems don’t necessarily have to be pushy little devices demanding you take a certain route (and go into overload if you don’t “please make a U-turn”). They’re usually always happy to avoid certain roads and can point out handy little pit stops like petrol stations and restaurants if you ask them to.

And finally, it’s always best to remember to double check the route your GPS suggests as it could be leading you into a route which may look quicker on screen, but will actually take a lot longer in reality. Maybe it’s not quite time to wave goodbye to the trusty road map quite yet. 😉

And our bit for Mother Nature…

Energy saving light bulbs have been around for years, but why everyone doesn’t use them is a mystery to us. They use less than a quarter of the electricity used by ordinary light bulbs and can last up to a whopping 15 times longer, meaning you don’t have to buy them as often (which if we’re being picky also means less trips in your car to the shop). Madness not to really.

Get your leaks fixed. Leaving a tap dripping all day will use as much water as it would take for you to fill a bath.

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Turning your thermostat down by just one degree, or heating your home or office for just an hour less each day can cut as much as 10% off your heating bills per degree drop.

A mobile phone charger if left plugged in when not charging will be responsible for between 35 to 70kg C02 over the year. Always unplug your mobile phone charger when you’re not using it. Go on, have a feel… the warmth is caused by the constant consumption of electricity.

A TV, if left on standby, will be responsible for 30 kg CO2 over the year.

A staggering amount of the Nation’s electricity bills is spent on standby and appliances left plugged in when not used, in excess of a whopping £230 million! By switching off at the plug when not required you could save up to 8% off your electricity bill.

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Keep your mobile/cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible. Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes. E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem.

Using rechargeable batteries can save money and reduce battery waste.

A lot of people are led to believe that if it’s cold in a room you can raise the temperature by turning a thermostat up and if it’s hot you can adjust the temperature by turning it down – but this does not actually affect the temperature of a room. So in future, remember that adjusting your thermostat won’t make any difference to the temperature of your room, so if it’s a bit chilly it might be time to cuddle up in a duvet or find a hot water bottle.

Seal and insulate your home, it’s incredible just how much money you can save by keeping your heat in your home (rather than it escaping out of single-glazed windows or a roof which isn’t insulated properly).

Calculate your Carbon Footprint with a Carbon Footprint Calculator. If you discover your footprint is higher than you imagined you can begin reducing the amount of energy your home consumes.

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Turn down the brightness on your TV and computer monitor – it’s good to remember the little things make a big difference.

Don’t keep your refrigerator and freezer too cold. Set temperature between 36-38 degrees F and freezers at 0-5 degrees.

Always run full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher and consider using the good old fashioned washing line instead of your tumble dryer.

Musings on the latest iPhone rumours…

We always keep ours ears firmly to the ground when it comes to the rumours circulating about the latest iPhone offerings from Apple, and we imagine you’ll be as interested to read about the possibility of a new member to the Apple family as we are.

Reports suggest that Apple is thinking of releasing one, two or three variants of the iPhone 3G. The first of which (closest to the current model) is an iPhone with an impressive 32GB capacity, which will be available in more colours than the standard white or black. Our thoughts are that we can expect to see red, blue, green, yellow, orange and purple join the current monochromatic range.

Some images have been leaked (as usual these are yet to be verified as official), which depict an iPhone with a different serial number to what is currently available. These pictures also suggest that Apple have opted for a matt finish to the back of the ‘new’ iPhone (rather than the traditional gloss finish we’re used to), which may be a smart move as we’re all quite aware of how easily the current iPhone can slip out of the hand and is easily marked by finger prints.

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The second ‘new iPhone’ is an iPhone with 2G (rather than 3G) technologies, which offers a cheaper model of the popular device for the Chinese and Indian markets. Many have criticised the downgrade to 2G, and early reports also suggest that the 2G iPhone will lose GPS and have a camera with a lower resolution. It’s safe to say the Jury’s still out on this one…

The final rumoured model, which is subject to much speculation and has been popping on and off blogs quicker than you can say “give me back my click wheel”, is the iPhone nano. Rumoured to be a third smaller in size and 40% cheaper than the current iPhone, some a little more confident than those in the know predict that this’ll hit shops by the summer and be a snip at $99.

Well I guess we’ll just have to wait and see won’t we?

Proporta say hello to the Kindle 2

Amazon has finally announced that the much-anticipated Kindle 2 will be available to buy from the 24th of February for $359.The Kindle 2 is fairly similar to it’s younger brother and looks much the same – it’s slightly more rounded, but still white and with the same basic screen. But some of the smaller buttons have been made more-user friendly, and this guards against those accidental page turns that the original e-Reader was prone to.

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Below are some aspects of the Kindle 2 we’d like to highlight, and all in all we think you’ll agree that this device is pretty cool.

The Kindle 2 is as slim as its predecessor (just over 1/3 of an inch) – or in other words, about the same thickness as a magazine, or a pencil.

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And due to its slim design the Kindle 2 is also very light, weighing less than a typical paperback book.

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This great device is also rather clever, with 3G wireless capabilities that allow you to download books no matter where you are in the world, and word on the street is that the rate at which you download books has also increased. Great news all-round.

You can never read enough (a wise woman once told me), and with this e-Reader allowing you to store up to 1,500 books at any one time, you’ll never get caught short without something to read. All those books demand a longer battery life (more books = more time reading), and as the new Kindle comes with a battery life 25% longer than its predecessor, you can now read for up to 2 weeks at a time before you need to recharge. Ideal for that desert island holiday, or even just the daily commute to work.

Not only is the new Kindle prettier than its sibling, it has also been redesigned to make it easier for e-Readers to use, and now incorporates a 5 way joystick and a standard keyboard rather than the original Reader’s keyboard which was split into two. Speed readers are also in luck, as page turning is now 20% quicker, and it can even speak to you. There is only one downside, and that is (as Henry Ford might say), you can have it in any colour you like, as long as it’s white…

Amazon has a big hit on their hands, and we reckon they know it. Catch the Kindle 2 online on the 24th of February – and be quick as those lucky folks with the original Reader have priority ordering before the rest of us can get our grubby mitts on them.

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Proporta celebrate Darwin Day

Some of us in the office are big fans of Charles Darwin and are set to celebrate his 200th birthday alongside many other enthusiasts. Graham has designed some (very, very) limited edition products – a Darwin200 iPhone 3G – Alu-Leather Case and a Darwin200 Leather Memory Wallet

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Happy birthday Mr Bell

Inventor Alexander Graham Bell turns the grand old age of 162 on the 3rd of March. Bell was the clever fella who invented the world’s first fully functioning telephone, therefore Proporta owe quite a lot to this guy (we wouldn’t be here without him). It’s pretty amazing to look back over the years and see how technology has developed, we wonder whether Bell ever envisioned phones as clever as the iPhone or BlackBerry when he thought up the telephone back in 1876. Odds are, perhaps not.

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The Proporta office gets that little bit more musical

With our ears permanently fixed to the ground on the latest gadgets to hit the market, Max’s birthday brought with it the pinnacle of musical technology…

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