A Terrible Tech Dilemma


I am back again after what has turned out to be a rather strange week, I have been flying around all over the place, trying to resolve issues for a major European system. Initial analysis was flawed and now the new analysis done by your’s truly, which hopefully is not as flawed, is in place. It did leave me with a dilemma though, with all the travels I had no idea which equipment to take with me. Did I take my trusty laptop which has seen more miles than I care to mention or do I take a tab, or rely on my phone alone. Thinking about airports and their sometimes very stringent restrictions on size and weight, just as well they don’t care about me ;-) I opted for a tablet. Now this in itself left me with a predicament as I did not actually own one at the time! Mad I hear you say relying on something you don’t own to solve problems, well yes and no. I have access to a few tablets and am aware of how they work, how we develop for them and the different scenarios they could deal with. Then came the next question asked by my faithful consultant, which one do you want? uuuummmmm let me think!!! There were so many of them out there I had not realised how difficult a decision this would be, do I go for a Samsung Note, Samsung Galaxy, Apple, Amazon Fire HD? I had no clue all had pros and cons in my eyes which would mean I would go for them or not. The Apple Ipad was the first to be ruled out, I am just not an Apple fan and compatibility with all of my other systems would cost me a fortune or mean we would have to write a couple of apps just to be able to use the IPAD. Not something I had time for I’m afraid. I looked then at the Samsung Galaxy and Note and could see the real benefits here, owning a Samsung Galaxy Mini Phone and loving it meant they were always going to be my favourite. Then someone encouraged me to look at the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and wow I am very pleased I did, not only did it cost far less for far more than the other models, it meant I was able to take my books, presentations, server monitoring tools from android, everything I needed to get my work done. It also allowed me to managed emails, diary just linking straight into my google and office365 accounts with the minimum amount of work and effort on my part. This is the model I bought Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 32 GB – Includes Special Offers Wow what a machine, the MP3 playback is awesome, the video quality is incredible and Amazon really do go the extra mile with their lending library, allowing you to borrow books for the month to read as well as purchasing them. Also all my tech books and methodology books I could move from my amazon account to kindle account and they just appeared on my tablet. There is one big drawback with Amazon which I do need to draw your attention to, you can only officially add apps to your tablet if you have an account with Amazon where they support the country you have an address in! A major drawback if you like me live in Belgium, no Amazon here, but as I have offices in the US and in Ireland I could use an alternative address quite happily. So for those of you with a full Amazon account and access to it for 1 stop purchase look no further you have found one of the best tabs at the best prices around. I now rely on it for everything, if it isn’t on there it didn’t happen or isn’t happening!

EU Businesses


EU RULES A BURDEN?

Category: Blog
Published on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 07:36
Written by Super User
Hits: 7
It does annoy me reading articles and listening to articles such as this one, trying to find someone to blame for the increasing burdens which UK businesses are facing. This time it is let’s blame Europe, or rather it is usually lets blame Europe. In my opinion there are 15% with the right approach to business and the rest are blinkered to what the general press says in the UK.
I have been a business owner for many years and yes it is true I left the UK and moved to Mainland Europe to embrace a economy where business is supported, businesses do thrive and grow and there are opportunities to grow. Businesses are supported in Europe by these so called “burdens”, it protects the little guys and the big guys from losing everything, including their houses and all their belongings. It also has many opportunities for trade gaps to be closed.

The BBC recently portrayed Europe as this big behemoth with big teeth trying to bring down all of the British Businesses http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22152548
The biggest issue is yes there are health and safety rules and regulations to follow, there are economic rules to follow there are a number of other rules to follow. These are not growing out of an ever increasing powerful Europe, the majority of the things preventing British businesses from succeeding fully are homegrown.
Take for example cashflow, in Europe it is made much simpler and easier by an established and thriving banking network, utilising the IBAN convention, international bank accounts withing the Member States are truly international and to the EEA, except the UK! If I want to pay or receive fund to my business it is invoiced at 30 days as is normal business practice, this will then be paid promptly by Bank Transfer 90% of the time at no charge, except for the small annual fees the banks mak, this is then available for use within 24 hours. I have a number of UK clients also and the examples from them are ludicrous, to ensure they have paid an invoice on time they have to ensure the transaction is made at least 5 days in advance, then there are the fees on top of this which all adds large costs to businesses competing in the European marketplace. So when I look for business partners and third parties I will never look to the UK to provide these services as the business process in the UK is too slow and cumbersome, whereas on mainland Europe it just flows.
Take into account a different work ethic and much higher moral values it makes it a pleasurable environment to work in. Yes everyone works hard, but the value of family is understood and the businesses adopt a flexible approach to working, allowing for part time work, school time work and a number of other approaches designed to make people’s businesses flow. The country I am in has seen a 57% growth in the last yeat alone, in this huge economic downturn and bad climate they are growing, because business works together to support each other, and yes this is completely under the governance of these so called European “burdens”. Small businesses are encouraged, each and every business gets a local business manager to work with from the bank who take an interest in what you are trying to achieve and will assist in any way they can, wow business support a novelty to my experiences in the UK, at various locations and various cities. It doesn’t help the vast redundancies which were made driving down the income rates and the ability to bill competitive rates.
It is funny I pay more tax here than I did in the UK and yet I am far better off, we still have allowances for housing, cars, families and yet we are growing and not sinking. Europe really does embrace the entrepreneur and will support them through all of the burdens and the tough times, yes it can hurt but it doesn’t have to hurt for so long and for so hard, I realised that once my eyes were opened. Yes sure some rules and regulations are annoying and sometimes it feels like they get in the way, but they truly do protect businesses and allow them to survive. The UK interprets these rules and regulations very differently and that is what I feel gets in the way of British business being the dominant force it once was.

Carnival Cruise


Carnival CruiseAnother section of the fantastic new cruise review site has now been completed and they have now included all of the ships from the carnival cruise lines. These reviews will grow into various comments, forums over the next few weeks and months and with nearly 30,000 followers already the reviews for carnival cruise lines are now proving to be very popular. Gay World Cruise Reviews has managed to include some information for their cruise review site which others have not managed to include just yet.

No review for the Carnival Triumph just yet due to its recent problems however it will recover and carnival will also. The following ships can be reviewed and read about here:

Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Dream, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Elation, Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Fascination, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Glory, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Legend, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Magic, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Pride, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Splendor, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Valor, Carnival Victory.

AIDA Cruises


The colorful cruise line from Germany AIDA have now been included in the Gay World Cruise Reviews portal site and we are hoping everyone will soon start to review these and join in conversations about them.
They have 10 ships in total:
  • AIDAaura
  • AIDAbella
  • AIDAblu
  • AIDAcara
  • AIDAdiva
  • AIDAluna
  • AIDAmar
  • AIDAsol
  • AIDAstella
  • AIDAsol

They sail to a number of the larger destinations and sail from many ports so you will be able to catch them most places.
There color schemes make them all easily recognisable so no missing your ship after a few gin and tonics!
There fleet is also growing and expanding as we speak.

Cruise Review Facilities


Most modern cruise ships feature the following facilities:

Casino — Only open when the ship is at sea to avoid conflict with local laws
Spa
Fitness center
Shops — Only open when ship is at sea to avoid merchandising licensing and local taxes
Library
Theatre with Broadway style shows
Cinema
Indoor and/or outdoor swimming pool
Hot tub
Buffet restaurant
Lounges
Gym
Clubs

Some ships have bowling alleys, ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls, miniature golf courses, video arcades, ziplines, surfing simulators, basketball courts, tennis courts, chain restaurants and/or ropes obstacle courses.

Read More

Cruise Review Portal


On our travels we have managed to come across a new cruise review portal aimed at the gay travel market, which is now a large business.  This portal provides information on the ships, destinations and port reviews.

http://www.gayworldcruisereviews.com

It is a professionally developed website with a vast amount of information on it which is growing all the time and the stories of the gay travellers are very amusing.

We highly recommend having a look at this site and please call back here for many more blogs.

Cruise ships utilization


Due to slower speed and reduced seaworthiness, as well as being largely introduced after several major wars, cruise ships have never been used as troop transport vessels. By contrast, ocean liners were often seen as the pride of their country and used to rival liners of other nations, and have been requisitioned during both World Wars to transport soldiers and serve as hospital ships.

Cruise ships and former liners often find employment in applications other than those for which they were built. A shortage of hotel accommodation for the 2004 Summer Olympics led to a plan to moor a number of cruise ships in Athens to provide tourist accommodation.

On September 1, 2005, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) contracted three Carnival Cruise Lines vessels (Carnival Fantasy, the former Carnival Holiday, and the Carnival Sensation to house Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

In 2010, in response to the shutdown of UK airspace due to the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano, the newly completed Celebrity Eclipse was used to rescue 2000 British tourists stranded in Spain as “an act of goodwill” by the owners. The ship departed from Southampton for Bilbao on April 21, and returned on April 23.

Crew


Crew is usually hired on three to eleven month contracts which may then be renewed as mutually agreed, which is based upon service ratings from passengers as well as the cyclical nature of the cruise line operator. Most staff work 77 hour workweeks for 10 months continuously followed by 2 months of vacation.

There are no paid vacations or pensions for service, non-management crew, depending on the level of the position and the type of the contract. Non-service and management crew members get paid vacation, medical, retirement options, and can participate in the company’s group insurance plan.

The direct salary is low for North American standards, though restaurant staff have considerable earning potential from passenger tips. Crew members do not have any expenses while on board as food and accommodation, and transportation for most employees, are included. This makes a cruise ship career financially attractive enough to compensate for lack of employment benefits.

Living arrangements vary by cruise line, but mostly by shipboard position. In general two employees share a cabin with a shower, commode and a desk with a television set, while senior officers are assigned single cabins. There are a set of facilities for the crew separate from that of passengers, such as mess rooms and bars, recreation rooms, prayer rooms/mosques, and fitness center, with some larger ships even having a crew deck with a swimming pool and hot tubs. On some cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Lines, certain client-facing staff (entertainers and shopkeepers) have the privilege of eating in the same buffet as passengers, but only on port days.

For the largest cruise operators, most “hotel staff” are hired from under-industrialized countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, and Central America. While several cruise lines are headquartered in the United States, the ships are registered in countries such as Bahamas, Panama, and Liberia, a practice known as “flags of convenience” to take advantage of less-stringent labour regulations. Collective action is difficult due to staff being from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The exception to this are the cruise routes around Hawaii, where operators are required to register their ships in the United States and the crew is unionized, so these cruises are typically much more expensive than Caribbean and Mediterranean.

Other on-board facilities


Most modern cruise ships feature the following facilities:

  • Casino — Only open when the ship is at sea to avoid conflict with local laws
  • Spa
  • Fitness center
  • Shops — Only open when ship is at sea to avoid merchandising licensing and local taxes
  • Library
  • Theatre with Broadway style shows
  • Cinema
  • Indoor and/or outdoor swimming pool
  • Hot tub
  • Buffet restaurant
  • Lounges
  • Gym
  • Clubs

Some ships have bowling alleys, ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls, miniature golf courses, video arcades, ziplines, surfing simulators, basketball courts, tennis courts, chain restaurants and/or ropes obstacle courses.

Organization


Dining

Dining on almost all cruise ships is included in the cruise price, except on no-frills lines such as EasyCruise.

Traditionally, the ships’ restaurants organize two dinner services per day, early dining and late dining, and passengers are allocated a set dining time for the entire cruise, but a recent trend is to allow diners to dine whenever they want. Having two dinner times allows the ship to have enough time and space to accommodate all of their guests. Having two different dinner services can cause some conflicts with some of the ship’s events (such as shows and performances) for the late diners this but problem is usually fixed by having the event take place before late dinner but it however is a shorter version of the performance/show. Cunard Line ships maintain the class tradition of ocean liners and have separate dining rooms for different types of suites, while Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises have a standard dining room and “upgrade” specialty restaurants that require pre-booking and cover charges. Many cruises schedule one or more “formal dining” nights. Guests dress “formally”, however that is defined for the ship, often suits and ties or even tuxedos for men, and formal dresses for women. The menu is more upscale than usual.

Besides the dining room, modern cruise ships often contain one or more casual buffet-style eateries, which may be open 24 hours and with menus that vary throughout the day to provide meals ranging from breakfast to late-night snacks. Ships also feature numerous bars and nightclubs for passenger entertainment; the majority of cruise lines do not include alcoholic beverages in their fares and passengers are expected to pay for drinks as they consume them. Most cruise lines also prohibit passengers from bringing aboard and consuming their own beverages, including alcohol while aboard. Alcohol purchased duty-free is sealed and returned to passengers when they debark.

There is often a central galley responsible for serving all major restaurants aboard the ship, though specialty restaurants may have their own separate galleys.

As with any vessel, adequate provisioning is crucial, especially on a cruise ship serving several thousand meals at each seating. For example, passengers and crew on the Royal Caribbean International ship Mariner of the Seas consume 20,000 pounds (9,000 kg) of beef, 28,000 eggs, 8,000 gallons (30,000 L) of ice cream, and 18,000 slices of pizza in a week. Normally, a cruise ship stocks up at its home port. They also have special arrangements with designated suppliers at ports of call if required.

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