Insurers – worse than Bankers?

I think so. I have blogged here about the fun and games you can encounter when trying to get car insurance in the UK. You are treated to an Industry which wants your cash (they call it a premium) and then don’t want to pay out when you need to claim. And if you do – they ramp your premium up. Some people don’t bother – we pay for them too!

The Insurers are quite scientific when it comes to pricing risk. The riskier you are the more you pay.

At the weekend Five Live ran an investigation into the latest little trick – employed by Admiral.

The Police can now offer you a Speed Awareness Course if they catch you speeding – it costs you – but you don’t get points on your Licence. And they have been suggesting that it doesn’t affect your Insurance. It seems that Admiral didn’t like this and have been loading premiums for drivers who have done the Speed Awareness Courses!

Their reasoning?

“Our claims statistics show that drivers who have committed a speeding offence could be a higher risk than drivers who do not commit speeding offences. This means that people attending a speed awareness course are more likely to make a claim and we price these risks accordingly”.

Their is a fundamental problem with this reasoning Admiral – “drivers who have committed a speeding offence” is pretty much all of us. It’s just that some people are unlucky and get caught. This has nothing to do with risk. This is luck. Or bad luck.

The Association Of Chief Police Officers is unimpressed, Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, “I think therefore it is unfair that insurance companies are loading premiums. It’s not appropriate.”

Since when was Insurance fair?

Hopefully Government will intervene here and slap them for this.

There was a time when Estate Agents (of which I am not) were the subject of hate mail. Latterly Bankers have taken that mantle – but surely this is the Insurers time?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Admiral Insurance, , Insurance, , premiums, Speed Awareness Course, speeding, unfair

Logos – how much?

I have had it drilled into me that a logo is not a brand. Lots of times. I get it.

But how much do brands spend on Logos?

I love this infogram about the amounts involved!

There are some surprises – Google spent nothing – and Twitter picked the bird from istockphoto for $15! Back when God was a boy the Coca Cola company got their bookmaker to draw the logo by hand! The Nike swoosh was the result of a $35 donation to a design student!

You do have to wonder why the BBC had to spend £1.8m on their logo and the Olympics $625,000?

At the side of the brands of Coca-Cola, Nike, Google and twitter this doesn’t look great value?

Nottingham TV

There was great news this week for Nottingham. An initiative was launched 18 months ago by the then Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and aimed to award 21 cities with their own Freeview channel, providing locally relevant TV content to local audiences.

Antenna- the Dolby Suite – at the heart of Notts TV

And so a consortium was formed – made up of Antenna, Nottingham Trent University, Inclusive Digital and the Nottingham Post Media Group to make a bid for the franchise. There were a number of other bids too, but I understand that two were finally shortlisted.

Two days ago it was announced that the consortium had been given a Licence to broadcast for the 12 years – on Freeview Channel 8. It is anticipated that the first programmes will be broadcast from April 2014.

Nottingham is one of the first cities to be awarded the licence and the process has now begun in developing the programme content.

The bid team are all experienced in the media – particularly the emerging digital content.

What I’m really excited about is the opportunity this might present for the next generation of students – Confetti Studios already have a reputation for producing exceptional talent in the digital world. Nottingham Trent University have a world class course in broadcast journalism. The Post Group have the infrastructure to report news daily. Inclusive Digital is run by a former editor of ITV news, Nigel Dacre. The Managing Editor of the channel will be former BBC News Correspondent Rob Pittam.

I think that this is a fantastic story for Nottingham. The model has been proven in the USA and I can see a place for some localised content. And knowing the people involved, this won’t be half-hearted – it will be professional quality and a serious contender for your viewing!

I own the domain names timgarrattnottingham dot com and dot They both point to what you are looking at now. They cost me about £10 a year. Pretty good value really.

I have long since believed that .com and are probably the only name extensions you need to be visible in the blogosphere – particularly in the UK. But that doesn’t help those who control the web names. Icann are the organisation that ‘control’ the issue of web extensions. And they have been having a bidding process the results of which were announced yesterday.

Tempting as it is to bid for some new extensions I didn’t bother. But lots of people have. Some of the new proposed names include .ninja and .porn, But the one that caught my eye was the BBC. To be clear this is for the top level domain – so you simply get the extension – In future to get your BBC news you might type

I must have missed the point here – It’s pointless I mean. The BBC already have domain names and – why do they need You might also wonder why it matters – after all they are saying it is to protect their brand. But the Licence Fee payer (me and you) has parted with £118,000 to apply for this. And the commitment ongoing is a $25,000 annual fee. What a waste of money.

In some ways the most important thing for a web site is being spotted on google. I rarely worry about the web extensions – if I want sky news I simply type ‘Sky’ into my google search bar – google does the rest. I don’t have to worry about anything else.

So, it seems to me that this is just a money-making exercise to line the pockets of Icann – and the next thing will be the unsolicited emails from people who want to sell me or similar – for a bargain price. No thanks – I’m happy with my two little domains… But if you offer me tim.tim – I might think about it!

Nottingham TV – let’s get started!

Nottingham has been selected as one of the pilot places for the introduction of ‘local broadcasting’ – after the BBC pretty much deserted us for Brummie-land!

I think this is great news – I have blogged about it before.

As the Government have moved away from regions to local – this has perhaps had at least one positive out-come. I switch off the TV if the news is Birmingham driven. I have no interest in what is happening near those Villa fans (you know who you are!). I think there is a fantastic opportunity to create a proper local TV station.

The idea has been around in America for some time (although some of it can be a little dire) it has an immediacy and relevance. Of course we now have the ability to capture images in High Definition – sometimes form our phones. But this is not what is needed in my view. Whilst the You Tube generation may have a place, I think local TV will only succeed if there is quality. To then at end it needs to take BBC output as a benchmark.

There look as though there will be two main bids in Nottingham for the service. I am involved in one of them – and work is now underway to get the bid ready. I am really looking forward to being involved. We already have some great ideas.

I have blogged before about the wealth of talent in the creative industries in Nottingham. Although we have been chosen as one of the pilots – with 18 other areas I think we will be the beacon!

This project has the distinct possibility of putting Nottingham on the map, but it has the prospect of being able to bring on the talent we have – including in schools and colleges.

Lights, camera, action!

The RICS APC Autumn session 2011

It seems like only 5 minutes since I was at Cheltenham Racecourse doing final assessments of candidates seeking their professional qualifications (the letters MRICS are what they are after!). I remember the last session well – I got food poisoning at the lunch – which helped with my weight loss, but did little for my appetite!

I find the assessments useful on three levels – it helps me keep up to date with changes in the profession, it lets me see the general standard of surveyors coming through and it does help my firms own candidates as I can ‘guide’ them better through the process.

I read a really interesting article on the BBC’s website at the weekend about the myths of an Oxbridge Interview. Mary Beard, a University Teacher is about to hang up her boots – she sets the record straight about the interviews students are put through. Amongst the amusing anecdotes (I love the question “would you rather be an apple or a banana”!) was a statement that rang true with me. She said, “my priority is to get the kids to talk themselves into a place, not talk themselves out of one“.

And this is something we try to tell our RICS candidates. They should enter the interview in the knowledge that they have passed. They just need, for one hour, to talk themselves into membership. So often they talk themselves out. In my experience because often they haven’t grasped what we are after.

In essence we are ‘testing’ that they have reached a standard we require. It a measurable test of competency. We know that they are not going to have been able to value a £1m shopping centre or negotiate a rent review on a football stadium – you tend to need grey hair to do that. But we do expect them to have been involved in jobs, to have observed, to have taken part. More importantly to have given their work some thought. We want them to have reasoned opinions.

We need people who can think, process and give reasoned advice. If they have done the background and been paying attention, this should not be difficult…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged APC, , Cambridge, final assessment, interbiews, Mary Beard, Oford, Oxbridge, , students

Climategate part 2

A couple of weeks ago the BBC published a story under the heading of ‘Global warming confirmed by independent study’ – you can read it here. The results were from the Berkeley Earth Project.

Predictions or guesses?

I couldn’t help but notice at the time that the story contained a line suggesting that the ‘report’ was still subject to peer review. So, at the moment, it is really a draft.

I don’t really doubt that man is causing problems on the planet – after all we are using up lots of resources and expending nasty CO2 gases. We need to treat the planet a bit better. My biggest beef is the lack of a coherent and accurate picture. We are basing Policy on some of the assumptions from studies like this.

To make matters worse, in the Mail on Sunday at the weekend a bit more of the story came to life. Professor Richard Muller from Berkeley said that “there was little room for doubt” that the earth was continuing to warm – along the lines of the trajectory from 1950. But then, one of his co-Authors, Professor Judith Curry, has said that this “is not remotely the case”. Her suggestion is that global warming has been flat for a decade.

It is cause for concern that the planet has grown warmer by around 1 degree since 1950, but if the temperature has more or less remained constant for 10 years – would we not be better admitting that, and concentrating on working out why?

The headlines are not helpful – and you have to question the credibility of the figures. In the words of the legal profession, we need the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And, as I was taught many years ago – about report writing – “if in doubt, leave it out”.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Green stuff, Grumpy Old Man! Tagged , Berkeley University, Climatic Research Unit email controversy, Earth, Global Warming, Greenhouse gas, Judith Curry, Richard Muller, The Mail on Sunday

Breakfast on the radio

It looks like the battle of he DJ’s was won last week by Chris Evans who managed to pull in 8.8 million listeners in the third quarter of 2011 up from 8.6 million in the previous three months.

My real favourite station...

Chris Molyes was next up with an audience of 7.1 million down from 7.4 million in the second quarter of the year. Meanwhile Radio 4‘s flagship Today programme fell from 7.1m to 6.7m.

These are big numbers – between the three shows that’s over 22m people – around one in three of the populations. It shows a recovery of Radio, which at one time was in decline (courtesy of the likes of Breakfast TV).

The actual press release made interesting reading – 90.7% of the UK population tune into the Radio at least one per week – and 28% of the listening population are doings on Digital receivers (i.e via DAB). Two in five now own DAB radios, but internet radio listening is also a major delivery medium – 40 million hours in the last quarter.

I don’t listen to any of this mainstream stuff, Shaun Keaveney makes me smile in a morning – on Radio 6Music. The station plays my kind of music. And despite the increase in Dab Radios, the audience looks like it is only around 1.25m….

You don’t know what you are missing…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Grumpy Old Man!, Nottingham Tagged , BBC Radio 4, Digital Audio Broadcasting, Digital radio, Radio, Radio 6, Shaun Keaveney, Today

A new camera and a bargain too…

I take my photography quite seriously – and have a small collection of cameras. In recent times I have been quite interested in Video too – especially as we have worked towards High Definition – and the joy of AppleMac editing software. iMovie is brilliant!

At the isle of Wight Festival this year I noticed that the BBC were using Canon still cameras for their interviews for The Apprentice ‘comments’. The Canon cameras in particular have come a long way in a very short space of time! It seems incredible that these ‘pro-sumer’ cameras are good enough for mainstream TV.

I have used Canon gear for a while (well actually since my Nikon gear was nicked). I have a collection of lenses and other accessories – which is a clever way of tying you into the system.

The Canon 40D I have had a for a few years and is a very good camera – but it doesn’t do video. And I fancied one of the new ‘bridge’ cameras as they are known. I did my research and the choice was between the Canon 5D MkII or the 7D – which is around £500 cheaper. That was an easy choice…
I only needed a body – the camera ‘kit’ comes with a lens which is inferior to one I already have – the best price I could see was around £1079 for the body alone. This was on various web sites. On Saturday morning – before I made my final decision I went into BestBuy in Nottingham to have a look at the thing in real life. I got talking to the member of staff who told me they would not just price match but then deduct 10% of the difference too. So the price of the camera would be reduced from £1250 – their list to £1,062 – a saving of £188.

Deal done. I am now the proud owner of a Canon 7D. I have so far read the manual – which exhausted me. But I haven’t been out yet to give it a whirl. I am looking forward to this and may well post some images here shortly…

Well done BestBuy.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged Amazon, , BestBuy, , , Canon, Canon 4d, Canon 7D, Canon EOS 40D, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EOS 7D, Nikon, Television

tim.garratt – a new domain

There was news this week on the BBC that the The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) plans to increase the number of domain endings from the current 22. You will be familiar with .com and

But ICANN have decided that the new domain endings can be ‘almost any word in any language’. You can apply from 12th January 2012. So this gives you plenty of time to dream up your own domain name. I can hear you pondering now…

But there is also a slight sting in the tale of this story. You might need to start saving up too before January. A cool £114,000 will secure you your very own domain name. That’s assuming you get through the anticipated 150 page application form. I think they are going to be quite ‘rigorous’ in the processing.

I now figure that you have gone off the notion. I was wondering what else you could spend that sort of cash on…

1. An Audi R8 – the thinking mans Porsche – and with all the goodies its only another £2k
2. A flat at Castle Marina in Nottingham – and have £4k to spare….
3. A diamond encrusted Odyssey Putter for £100k, still cash over to spare?
4. A 2007 Bavaria 40′ yacht perhaps? Very very nice…

Any other ideas?

Mines the R8 if that’s ok – And I’ll stick with for the moment!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged Audi R8, Bavaria, , Domain name, ICAAN, , Odyssey putter, Putter, Top-level domain