Category Archives: Personal Blog

MSC Meraviglia Internet Speeds [its not all bad]

I recently enjoyed a 7 day cruise around the mediterranean (from Barcelona) with MSC aboard the MSC Meraviglia, a massive, massive cruise liner, 4th largest in the world at the time of writing carrying 4,500 passengers and 1,500 crew.

Obviously with running various  online businesses I was very concerned about the internet access on board at sea as I need to connect to various servers and web sites during the time on board.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that MSC offers various internet packages for its customers so they can still access their social media, emails and other internet services  whilst on board.

MSC provides 300MB satellite connection available for shared use by its customers*.

Below is a couple of speed tests I made on my iphone and as you can see the connection is pretty decent.

*So sure, 300MB connection shared amongst 6,000 people is a scary prospect, but MSC “wisely” puts a price barrier and bandwidth limit on the packages they offer which prevents passengers abusing/hogging the connection. Result being: decent speeds all round.

I opted for the “Premium” internet package at €89.90 which offers up to 4GB of bandwidth. I ran out of bandwidth by day 5 and merely topped up with another €26 for another 2GB and that got me through the whole cruise. I pretty much had facebook and email on all the time onboard and was not really being too careful what I was viewing. Obviously if you try and stream netflix or movies, then the bandwidth is going to accumulate quick.

SIDE WARNING: If you take your mobile phone on board, MAKE SURE YOU TURN OFF THE CELLULAR/3G/4G SERVICE otherwise your phone company will charge you stupid amounts for any internet access.

Below is a message I got from my provider in Spain each time we went out of range of land based connections and as you can see its ripoff prices for internet access through satellite.

NOTE: In Europe, since 2018, you can enjoy free internet roaming but that’s only for land based connections, not offshore satellite which is a different story altogether.

Pirate Birthday Cake

It was my sons 5th year birthday and decided this year to make him a pirate themed cake as he is well into pirates.

I enjoy watching the food channel and often watch the amazing cake programmes and am very impressed at what they do with fondant which I have never used before so decided to give it a go.

Here are the results!

Everything on the cake including treasure chest and ship is edible except for the playmobile figurines. The round part is based on a 30cm tin size and for the sand I just chucked some biscuits in the food processor until it was grainy sandy looking.

I will admit, it was laboursome, but I was pretty much making it up as I go along. In total I spent around 12 hours over 2 days putting it together.

Well worth it though after seeing the kids (and parents) delight!

IMG_4859IMG_4836 IMG_4838 IMG_4839


Seafood Dinner Party April 2014

Last year I made a British Dinner Menu for my guests which went surprisingly well, so this year I decided to do something different and went down the seafood route as we live in Marbella which has an abundance of fresh seafood, so it was an obvious choice.

The previous year I slaved all day on the saturday from dawn till dusk and completely knackered myself but this year I thought I would work smart and do some of the work on the friday. Therefore did all my shopping on the friday and started preparing only to spend all day friday and most of saturday cooking as well (DOH!) and basically spent almost twice as much time as last year!

The other thing I decided to do this year was do as much as possible with the thermomix and I managed everything except steaming the tiger prawns which I did in a steamer and the salmon en croute which had to be done in the oven. The rest was thermomix all the way. IMHO, if you are serious about cooking and dont have a thermomix and can afford one (they are not cheap), get one.

Well, anyway, it was very worth the effort as a nice menu was produced and everyone was very complimentary indeed and happy smiling faces all round.

This year I even remembered to take some photos of some of the dishes!!! See them below.

dinner-menu-april-2014 scallop-and-seafood-surprise





[SOLVED] Daisy Chaining Apple LED Display to Apple Thunderbolt Display

W00t! Just went and invested in a thunderbolt cinema display as a second screen and ran out of space on my desk, so have built a nice little extension  on the right to house my other gadgets and its starting to look like Nasa control centre!

However, getting the displays to work was not without its issues.


The screen on the left is an Apple LED 27′ Cinema display and the one on the right is an Apple Thunderbolt 27′ Cinema display and when I went and plugged my LED screen into the TB display to extend my screen space, the TB display works fine but the LED display remains dead, nothing happens not even a flicker.

NOTE: I have a 2011 Mac Book pro which only has 1 single TB port hence my need to daisy chain the displays. Later models I believe have 2 x thunderbolt ports.

According to the apple store sales guy, it should have worked fine but it didn’t and after researching through the apple forums the conclusion was that its not possible to daisy chain an LED to Thunderbolt  (even though the LED has thunderbolt cable).

So, the solution was to “daisy chain” the LED display to the Thunderbolt display using a Thunderbolt hub in between and it worked first time right off the bat. I understand you can also use a thunderbolt external hard drive but you need to make sure it has two Thunderbolt slots.

Anyway, I bought a Thunderbolt Express Dock by Belkin off the site. Arrived next day so really happy…..okay, €250 lighter but happy. You should note that a Thunderbolt  dock is cheaper than a Thunderbolt Hard drive.


So in the end I have configured it like this:


If you are in the same position and are fruitlessly trying to daisy chain an LED display directly to a Thunderbolt display, then do not waste your time, just get a hub to go in the middle and it will work fine.

Don’t forget when ordering the Thunderbolt hub, you might need to order a thunderbolt cable as the hub does not come with one.

Good luck!


Bizarre, Antiquated Renewal Method From My Firewall Company

I just wanted to write this more out of frustration than anything because I cannot believe how some companies deal with their clients. Even in the US which is supposed to be at the forefront of technology they are using things like “telephones” to communicate and asking clients to “phone in” and give their credit cards “over the phone” which anyone should know is one of the most insecure methods of paying for anything.

Anyway, to cut a really long story short, I use a certain software firewall product for one of my production windows servers. Its an excellent product, there is no doubt but MAN, the customer service from this company is antiquated.

The software license on this product has expired a couple of weeks ago, I did not get any notification, thats fine I guess, but really I would have expected their system to send me a polite reminder saying that the license is coming up to expire rather than me having to rely on remembering it.

So when I realised that it had expired, I quickly  logged into their “customer portal” and raised a support ticket to ask them how to renew because there was no way on their web site or within the portal for me to make a payment or renew the license.

Here is the ticket thread for your amusement (and mine).

You need to read it in reverse order starting at the bottom to understand the thread.


A Quintessential British Dinner Party Menu

Before Xmas 2012, myself and my wife attended a small dinner party (6 of us) hosted by some friends and everyone had heard how well my previous attempts at Beef Wellington went. After much persuasion I caved in and agreed I would cook for the next dinner party in Feb 2013.

So of course, what to cook? I wanted to try and show how good British Cuisine is but unfortunately when you google “Typical British Food” you get bubble and squeak, toad in the hole, english breakfast etc. Nothing wrong with those mind you, they are real comfort foods but not really dinner party material.

So, I did some research with a little help from Ester and I came up with the following very ambitious menu which I prepared yesterday. I started preparing at 10am and did not finish until 9.30pm so that was 9 and a half hours of back break just prepping the mise en place!!! I think if I included the time it took to buy everything and cook everything, I probably spent around 15 hours in total.

However the menu and serving went off without a hitch and I had some very happy guests who I think were a bit shocked that the “guiri” could output a first class menu such as this AND keep it British.

The only disappointing thing about this menu was that 15 hours of work just gets eaten in a couple of hours!! LOL

traditional british food

I really hope this post will help anyone else interested in serving a british style menu to their guests, however a word of warning. Be prepared to put in some work as this menu takes a lot of effort and cost.

My wife said to me that it would have been cheaper to just take everyone to a Michelin star restaurant but for me it was well worth the effort!! (but I wont be doing it every week).

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Bureaucrats – How to Annoy Them and the Twitmarsh Files

I am in proud receivership of two books recommended to me the other day by my friend Justin Parks.

1. The Twitmarsh Files
2. Bureaucrats – How to Annoy Them


These books were written by the late Patrick Moore under his pen name “R.T Fishall” (artificial..get it?) in the early eighties.

The Twitmarsh files is a kind of reprint of the original “Bureaucrats – How to Annoy Them” and both are a brilliant and enjoyable read and give some funny advice on how to get even with the taxman etc.

Twitmarsh files is available on Amazon for appx 4.79 GBP whereas the original book is a little harder to get and I actually parted with 99 gbp for it as it seems its more of a collectors item now.

So if you are like me and are one of those individuals who can get incensed by the Twitmarshes of this world, then this book will have you laughing out loud!

Its good to laugh you know.

My Workspace New Years Resolution 2013

I did a nice cleaning of my workspace over the weekend and am happy to say that its still pretty tidy and I intend to keep it that way and my new years resolution is to keep my workspace as minimal as possible and with no clutter + as paperless as possible.

And yes, those are two Henge Docks on the right of the picture holding my MBP 15′ and MBA 13′.