Nuisance calls from 0800 358 4487 claiming to be Three UK

At just after 6pm this evening I received the second call of the day from 0800 358 4487. On both occasions the caller claimed to be from 'Three, the mobile network'.

Yes, my phone is with Three and first caller did know what phone I had and when I ordered it, as well as my name, so in all likelihood they were who they said they were. Or, at least, they were acting on Three's behalf.

The first call was tolerable (although I can't remember if I specifically opted out from marketing calls or not when I ordered the phone - I usually do). Essentially they wanted to get other members of my family on a Three contract as well. I said politely that this wasn't of interest at which point the caller rapidly lost interested and said his goodbyes. Fair enough. That was in the early afternoon on a weekday, he knew my name and was, probably, from a company who's services I use. In fact the same sales team has even been complimented by an industry blogger here.

However, I was to receive a second call at 6pm. Just when my wife and I are trying to be quiet and sooth our 7 month old baby to sleep. I immediately recognised the number and, curious to see what they could possibly want for the second time in the same day, I answered. After hearing the same spiel about them being from Three etc, I told him I'd already been called earlier today. I was then interrogated as to the purpose of the first call. In the interests of discovering where he would go with this, I said 'special offers'.

This is where things started to get a bit out of hand. He started explaining to me that it was actually impossible that I could have received a call from them earlier. This was because the system couldn't call the same number twice in one day. I should be clear that this wasn't a kind, polite, explanation. It was, in fact, about as rude as it's possible to be whilst maintaining some level of composure.

So in no uncertain terms I was then being accused downright of lying. Clearly, even though they are from Three, they didn't have access to my recent calls list. I've attached a screenshot here for a giggle. The two cancelled outgoings were me accidentally calling them back while trying to view the call details.

Eventually I managed to part ways with this anti-salesman with only a baby to put back to sleep after being woken by the call.

The fact that this was a repeatedly unwanted call, coinciding with my baby's bedtime, was what prompted me to write this and see if anyone happens to search for the number and has been equally annoyed by their tactics and anti-social calling hours. I doubt I'll find the time to take my complaints in any official direction but I'm seriously tempted.

Update 12th July 2013: It seems they have forgotten my request not to be contacted again as today I have received two calls and a text. The first call, which I ignored, was from 0800 358 4486. Then I got a text which came up as 'FromTheee' on my phone. Then, at the anti-social hour of 18:45, I was called from 0800 358 4494. Suspecting Three, I answered to confirm this, and indeed it was. I'm assuming the first number was also them.

Update 19th November 2013: They have once again forgotten my request to not be contacted and are now calling me again from 0800 358 7281 at 18:25 - just as we're winding down for bed time with our 15 month old.

15 Mar 13
74 COMMENTS

Final Cut Pro X (FCP X) media management workflow for Events and Projects between storage and scratch disks

After finally plucking up the courage (and just about finding the time!) to start getting to grips with Final Cut Pro X, the first hurdle I really came across was that of media management.

Over the last few years I've developed quite a specific media management workflow. I have two main external drives which form the basis of my workflow:

  • Storage Drive (Drobo, connected via FW800)
  • Scratch Drive (G-Tech, connected via FW800)

I don't use the internal drive for anything to do with FCP as video footage just uses up space too quickly. Everything on my Storage Drive is also backed up weekly to multiple drives which become an offsite backup, but that's another article.

On my Storage/Archive Drive (which is protected against a single drive failure due to it being a Drobo) I have collections of folders grouping clients and then each client folder contains a folder for each job for that client.

Because the Drobo isn't fast enough for video editing (at least with EX3 XDCAM EX footage, even though it's FW800 it just can't access the data quickly enough, presumably a limitation of it's RAID technology) I need to incorporate a faster single FW800 drive into my production workflow.

So my current (FCP 7) workflow looks like this:

  1. Create a new client/job folder on the Storage Drive. Copy the footage from camera into a folder within the client's job folder.
  2. Copy the whole job folder onto the Scratch Drive.
  3. Lock or colour flag the job folder on the Storage Drive on the scratch drive, so that I know it's currently being worked on.
  4. Make a new FCP project file in the job folder on the Scratch Drive. Open FCP and start working with the footage and project file from the Scratch Drive.
  5. Every day (or more frequently) replace the job folder on the Storage Drive with that from the Scratch Drive (using an excellent app called 'Folder Sync').
  6. At the end of a job, simply make sure the job folder on the storage drive is up to date, then remove the job folder from the Scratch Drive.
  7. If I need to revisit the job in the future, I simply copy the job folder from the Storage Drive to the Scratch Drive and carry on as before.

FCP 7 is set to use the Scratch Drive for all render files. I don't move render files around or keep them on the Storage Drive. I used to do this, but it just got to complex to keep having to reconfigure FCP with new locations for render files.

I figure if the Scratch Drive dies I can re-render any projects if I need to re-export anything. In that scenario I can grab a new scratch drive and copy the project folder from the Storage Drive to carry on from the last time I backed it up (hopefully no more than a day old).

So basically I keep the FCP project, and all media files, in a same folder. I then keep a backup of that folder on my Storage Drive at all times, and duplicate it onto the Scratch Drive to work on it. FCP 7 is good and keeping tabs of the media even if I have to move it to a different scratch drive to work on (or rarely need to open the project from the Storage Drive) because the project file and media files are all in the same folder. It doesn't mark the media as offline if you move the whole project folder's location.

Enter, FCP X

Things are quite different in FCP X. There are two new top level concepts which govern the whole process. These are 'Events' and 'Projects'. At first I thought my workflow was going to really suffer as it appeared that FCP X wanted to keep all events in the same place all of the time. My workflow only needs currently worked on Events to be on the Scratch Drive, and the rest of the time they can be in storage. What I want to happen is be able to keep a project and it's media in storage, and then move it back to the Scratch Drive and everything work as expected.

FCP X actually supports this workflow very well. Before I go into the actual workflow I'll just mention a few important points regarding Events and Projects and how FCP X deals with them. Basically Events and Projects can be stored on any connected drive, the only requirement being that they need to be in a top level folder called 'Final Cut Events' and 'Final Cut Projects'. This is quite handy because it means we can easily remove an Event or Project from the system (to avoid FCP seeing a duplicate of an Event or Project when we have a copy on the Storage Drive and the Scratch Drive at the same time), just by making sure it's not in those top level folders.

FCP X 'Events' and 'Projects' are file based. This means a given Event or Project is neatly organised inside a single folder. What we do with that folder is largely up to us and moving that folder around doesn't jeopardise the integrity of it's contents. As far as I'm aware, there is no central database to get confused if you move an Event or Project around. What seems to happen is FCP X simply looks at the top level of each connected drive for all Events and Projects each time you open the application. You can then just start working with them. FCP X seems to handle differing drive speeds very well, you just see performance increases if you use faster drives.

One thing I have noticed is an Event or Project can't be moved while FCP X is open (it contains a lock file). So always make sure FCP X is closed before moving 'Events' or 'Project'.

So, we can start to see how a workflow might work, given we know how robust an 'Event' and 'Project' folder is. My FCP X workflow looks like this:

  1. Open FCP X.
  2. Create a new 'Project' and new 'Event' on the Scratch Drive. Use a naming convention to make it clear which client and job they belongs to.
  3. Import footage into the 'Event' from camera (in my case I need to do this in a two stage process because FCP X can't import directly from my camera). Make sure the 'Copy original media to Event' option is checked. This will make sure the actual media files are stored inside the 'Event' folder. This way the Event folder is folder you need to incorporate into your backup flow for the footage.
  4. Create a new client/job folder on Storage Drive.
  5. Add two folders inside this new job folder, called 'Final Cut Events' and 'Final Cut Projects'. Please note I'm using the same folder names as the actual Event and Project folders which FCP X creates in the top level of drives, but these will never be used because they will never be in the top level of a drive. I'm simply using the same names so I know where to put the contained Event and Project folders when I want to work with the project.
  6. Copy the Event folder and Project folder from the Scratch Drive into the folders (created in step 2) in the Storage Drive job folder. These are now the backup of the footage and project and can be replaced with those from the Scratch Drive regularly to protect again Scratch Drive failure.
  7. Start working with the Project with footage from the Event in FCP X. You should only see one version of the Project and Event in FCP X, from the Scratch Drive. The copy of the Event and Project in the Storage Drive will be invisible to FCP X because they aren't stored in the top level of the Storage Drive. In fact I should never see a 'Final Cut Events' or 'Final Cut Projects' folder in the top level of my Storage Drive, only on the Scratch Drive.

This workflow has the added advantage that I can only work with the projects when they are on the Scratch Drive, ensuring that I've never accidentally worked on a project while it's on the Storage Drive, only to then replace it from an out of date version from the Scratch Drive. So I'm actually much happier with this way of doing things. Apple have really thought about media management, storage and organisation of data. All of the advanced tagging and meta data in FCP X is stored within the Event folder, and is always preserved regardless of where we've moved that Event folder to and from.

The system works well enough that you can even move the Event and Project folder to any other drive (as long as they are in top level 'Final Cut Events' and 'Final Cut Projects' folders) and you can then simply open FCP X and the project and event shows up in there ready to be worked with. So there appears to be no significance on which drive a project or event is created or stored on. As long as they are in the proper top level folders, they'll show up correctly in FCP X.

Anther advantage to this system, and one clearly encouraged by FCP X, is the ability to draw on multiple Events for a given Project. For example, if you want to create a showreel from recent work. In this scenario I can simply copy as many Events from their respective client/job folders onto the Scratch Drive, and work with them in a new Project.

Now that I've got this sorted, I need to start figuring out how to actually edit in this very forward thinking software. From the overview videos I think it really will revolutionise the editing process, even if it does mean re-learning everything.

5 Nov 11
1 COMMENTS

Tags:
fcp x final cut pro editing workflow

Learn how to improve your search engine position by creating good relevant content

I've just written a new article over at my website design Bath, Bradford-on-Avon & Devizes website, Phototropic, about how to get higher on search engines. It's aimed at beginners who might be trying to build their own website or are using some form of content management system.

It covers link bating, meta title and description, choosing page names carefully and using headings to organise your content. It's a beginners guide to improving your search engine ranking.

Visit the article: 6 steps to getting higher on search engines

10 Jun 11
0 COMMENTS

SetSeed white-label CMS now available for resellers

Our very own Content Management System (CMS), SetSeed, has been the cornerstone of our web development and design business for several years. It's ongoing development and success has led us to recently launch the CMS as a commercial product, making it available to other web design and development businesses. This means they too can offer the CMS to their customers in the same way we do.

We've very excited about taking SetSeed CMS to the next level and look forward to actively continuing it's development.

Unlike most Content Management Systems, SetSeed CMS doesn't rely on vulnerable WYSIWYG editors. We believe the way a content administrator inserts actual text content onto a page is the most important aspect of a CMS, which is why we built our own text editing system from the ground up. If you're a web developer you'll probably be aware how easy it is for your clients to break their page's layout by pasting in content from word processing applications. We built SetSeed to address this fundamental issue with, as far as we know, all other CMS's out there.

However, SetSeed CMS doesn't stop there. The Content Management System is a complete back end for your clients websites, powering a blog, contact forms, image galleries, livechat, a PayPal shop, RSS feeds, a newsletter mailing list, calendars, video and much, much more.

The other significant aspect of SetSeed CMS is that it powers multiple websites from a single installation on your own server. This means you can keep that single installation up to date and ensure all your clients are using the most stable and feature rich version. No longer will you have countless requests to update your old client's CMS software when they discover it has gone out of date. SetSeed lets you keep everyone up to date.

SetSeed is also completely brand-able, so you can use your own logo on the CMS interface. What's more, we offer a complete training video library which will show your branding in each of the video screen casts. This is an amazing addition to the package and is sure to complete your white-label CMS offering.

We're also offering free installation, subject to availability, of SetSeed so you can get started without having to worry about installing it for the first time. Hop over to SetSeed.com to learn more.

7 Jan 11
0 COMMENTS

Tags:
web design setseed

Fixed: 1248x702 QuickTime size incorrectly shown when it should be 1280x720

After thinking QuickTime had a really annoying bug that would show some videos at an incorrect size (1248x702 instead of 1280x720 for example) I finally spent enough time trying to find a fix. I came across this very useful post at the Apple Discussions site.

It turns out the incorrect size is caused by a QuickTime feature (documented here). Unfortunately it looks like it can actually only be changed in QuickTime 7 Pro and not QuickTime X. Even so this is a significant hint as I'd always been frustrated knowing I'm not looking at a clip at 100%, pixel to pixel.

15 Mar 10
0 COMMENTS

Tags:
tips quicktime

jQuery jCarouselLite, or its jQuery UI counterpart, not showing up on page load

The problem: 
A jQuery jCarouselLite or jQuery UI Carousel appears to not show on an initial page load, but does show up on subsequent page loads.

The solution:
Give image elements inside the carousel list items their width and height through attributes or css.

The reason:
I assume this is to do with the carousel running on 'document.ready' and not knowing the dimensions of images inside the carousel and therefore applying a 0x0 size to the carousel.  It works on subsequent page loads because the images are cached and their sizes known. 

30 Nov 09
0 COMMENTS

Tags:
jquery javascript bug jcarousellite

Thanks to the CSS design galleries that featured our new website

The newly redesigned Phototropic Productions website has been featured on several CSS website design galleries. Many thanks to them for taking the time to consider us.

You can find us on the following CSS design gallery websites:

16 Apr 09
0 COMMENTS

Tags:
design galleries web design

New website is here at last

After nearly a year since our last redesign we have launched a new-look website today. After an experimental stage of replacing a standard navigation menu with mini-content areas on each page, we have brought back a global navigation system. We've realised our last way of doing it didn't work, users just weren’t visiting as many pages per visit as they did before. It was a fun experiment though and worth trying I think.  

So, welcome to the 2009 Phototropic website. We hope you enjoy it and find what you're looking for, be it articles from our blog, information on our web design or filmmaking services. Of course, this website is now powered by our content management system, SETSEED™, and built using CSS and XHTML.

3 Apr 09
0 COMMENTS

Tags:
phototropic web design

Accessible CSS drop down menus with and without Javascript and in IE 6

Stylish CSS drop down menus are nothing new. They can be easily coded to be semantic with nested unordered lists and can also be made accessible to keyboard users with a bit of helpful javascript. They can even work without javascript enabled by adding the :hover pseudo class to the parent list element. However, IE 6's lack of support for this means without javascript IE 6 users simply won't be able to see the links.

There is a simple solution.

Step 1. Build the page for browsers without javsacript
Because we want this to work in IE6 we can't use the :hover pseudo class on the list items. Instead build your css and xhtml page but make sure all nested lists in the navigation menu are visible. Style it up as best you can to make it look acceptable, even though all the menus will be expanded. In the case of drop down menus that overlap if they're all visible, you will need to turn the menu into a normal line-by-line menu with the sub menus indented. This is how all users without javascript will see your page.

Step 2. Add some Javascript.
Now that we have a non-javascript menu that works in IE 6 we can make it work as a drop down menu for users who have javascript enabled. We're using jQuery to make this easier and to allow a nice fade in on the drop down menu. The first thing to do is add a class to our main menu as soon as possible. Then add the code to make the sub menus fade in and out on mouse over.

$(document).ready(function(){
	$("#mainNav").addClass("js");
	$("#mainNav li").hover(function(){
		$("ul",$(this)).fadeIn();
	},function(){
		$("ul",$(this)).fadeOut();	
	});
});

Step 3. Add some style.
Now, we can use the “.js” class in our CSS to re-style the menu and override any of the style we added in step 1. Styling CSS drop down menus is well documented elsewhere so I won't go into too much detail here.

Step 4. Add some more javascript to enable full keyboard access.
What we have so far isn't enough to allow full keyboard control. Keyboard users would have to disable javascript as well as CSS to see the links. By adding a bit more jQuery we can make the drop down menus fully navigable via the keyboard.

$(document).ready(function(){
	$("#mainNav").addClass("js");
	$("#mainNav li").hover(function(){
		$("ul",$(this)).fadeIn();
	},function(){
		$("ul",$(this)).fadeOut();	
	});
	$("a").focus(function(){ // hide drop downs
		$("#mainNav ul").fadeOut();
	});
	$("#mainNav li a").focus(function(){ // main nav anchor focus
		$("ul",$(this).parent()).fadeIn();
	});
	$("#mainNav li li a").unbind(); // unbind hide drop downs from sub nav anchors
});

Lets first look at the rule labelled ‘main nav anchor focus’. This is assigned to the top level anchors in the main menu as that is what the keyboard will tab between when the user uses the tab key to cycle through links. When the anchor gets focus it shows the drop down menu associated with it. The fact that this is now visible means the next time the user hits tab the first sub menu item will have focus, and as such can be visited.

When the user tabs past the last sub menu item we want the down down to fade out. This is why we added the ‘hide drop downs’ rule to all anchors. This means, when any item is tabbed to all menus will close. We want to avoid this happening when the user tabs to the sub menu items and of course when they tab to a sub menu parent item. That's why we add it before the $("#mainNav li a") rule. This means it will fire the sub nav hide first and then open the one that is tabbed to. We prevent the sub nav links firing it with the unbind rule at the end.

Thats it, CSS drop down menus with keyboard control in all browsers, with and without javascript enabled.

13 Mar 09
5 COMMENTS

Tags:
css javascript jquery accessibility web design

New website design: The Devon Carpenter - Phil Szaniszlo

“ In the begining...I knew nothing about websites other than the fact that I needed one to promote my work.
Now...I know that I have a very efective website that I am able to adapt and update MYSELF !
How is this possible?...Ben is a very clever man, and I am a very happy customer. ”

Testimonial by Phil Szaniszlo the Devon Carpenter

Phil Szaniszlo commissioned us to build a new website to use an advertising tool for his capentry services in Devon. The website was built with search engine optimization in mind and just a few weeks after launch his website is appearing at number one for his main Ggoogle phrase 'devon carpenter'.

We installed our new content management system on Phil's site to allow him to maintain and add to his website as time goes on. One of our philosophies here at Phototropic Productions is that we don’t want our customers to feel trapped in a circle of expensive mainatence fees just to make small edits to their websites. Phil can now edit his webiste when and how he wants and at no futher cost.

Most companies charge a lot to give this control to their customers as they know they won't get any more money out of the customer for making changes to the site. We believe that giving this control at a reasonable cost will help our word-of-mouth marketing and increase customer satisfaction, which is our first and foremost goal.

Learn more about our Exeter based website design services.

2 Aug 08
0 COMMENTS

Tags:
new web design