Author Archives: Leon Andrews

A Quick Rant

A while ago I got a netbook through Amazon, it’s been a very impressive piece of kit, to the point that when my Brother’s laptop died I actually recommended a netbook to him.
Due to one reason or another Neil didn’t have a lot of disposable income, so I had a good dig around to see what I could find for him.
What I found was a company called Laptops Direct, now if they had proved to be any good I would have placed a link into the blog for them, but since they turned out to be pretty awful then I would rather have skewers placed through my thumbs than drive any business their way.
Some of you may know that I am a qualified computer engineer, so Neil’s opinion is swayed by mine when it comes to matters computing.

Neil had a look through a number of items that they had to offer from an internet cafe, then phoned me to find out my opinion. My opinion was that what they had to offer and what he had to spend the best bet would be an Asus EeePc 1005HA. Neil wrote it down and phoned them up. Asked that they deliver to one of his places of work (we Sub-contract), which is what they did.
They did send Neil e-mail’s to say that they would be delivering, not that it did him any good as he couldn’t pick them up, he had a dead laptop hence he had phoned the order through.
The day arrived and they delivered, Neil opened the package when he got home and proceeded to plug in the unit and get everything sorted.

I should point out that Neil’s main reason for buying a netbook is so that he can use his email, beyond that a little surfing and printing out invoices are the main things that computers are used for with Neil, although he has some music on his system as well as photo’s. Neil has recently started getting into photo editing.

Anyhow, Neil has never really been a great one for labels, so when Laptops Direct sent him an Acer apsire Neil didn’t even notice (They all look the same to Neil). I personally would have gone ballistic and told them where to place it, but that’s just me….

So here we have Neil with the new Netbook, what’s the first thing Neil is gonna do, that’s right check his e-mail. So Neil logs into his e-mail and starts reading through things, great he’s back online, then Neil tries to send an e-mail, this is where things got interesting.

The first thing that Neil discovers is that the “@” button doesn’t work, then he discovers that the “:” button isn’t working either, then he discovers that one of the other keys doesn’t work.

So Neil starts running through the customer support side of life in reporting a fault with his newly purchased item. So they want a description of what’s wrong with the machine, Neil tells them it doesn’t work.

Now any sane and reasoning company would then say “okay we’ll have a look at it”, but not Laptops Direct, they said “Sorry your description is not technical enough”. This goes on for a while Neil reporting through their online facility and them messing him around.

After a while I was up staying with Neil and he described to me the situation and showed me the e-mails.

“Could I fix the Netbook”, the answer is gonna sound rotten, you’ve got a brother who’s a computer engineer and you’ve a broken computer, I told him “No”.

Laptops Direct wanted a technical answer so I told Neil what should be sent (what do they expect, all of their customers to be computer engineers), I also got him to tell them that there were two main reason for me not fixing the netbook.

A). The netbook was not working properly on delivery, this is not Neil’s responsibility, nor is it mine. Neil did not pay for a “Broken Netbook”.

To me either one of the above is a reason that the Netbook be replaced immediately, but according to Laptops Direct what should then happen is that the netbook should be collected and assessed over a period of days before they make a decision.

They messed up by sending out the wrong netbook, they messed up by sending out not just the wrong netbook, but one that then doesn’t even work properly. So all in all I would give Laptops Direct a customer service level of 0 out of 10.

Then they mess the customer about as if it’s their fault, now Laptops Direct are really pushing their luck, I would deduct points here so let’s make that a -10 out of 10 for customer service.

So to conclude Neil did get a working netbook from Laptops Direct in the end, it was still the wrong model, but it worked. Neil did send a query about “Well since it’s not actually what I ordered, but I don’t have time to mess around, what extra are you gonna provide me with”, however I don’t think he ever got anything other than an automated response. Laptops Direct are the biggest pile that I have so far come across, their customer service was poor and the sheer fact that they make mistakes and then expect others to make do is purely ridiculous.

Personally I would rather have my nuts placed in a hydraulic press than buy from them and I would warn any about buying anything from them in the future.


As per every year that I could so far, I attended the bushmoot (organised by BushcraftUK) again this year, as the name would suggest it’s an event revolving around bushcraft skills and skill sharing. This year was as it is every year well attended, but not overcrowded, relaxed and social. It has the feel of being quite organised without having the pressure of having to be at specific places at specific times and the people are friendly and laid back.

The general consensus was that this year was the best that we have had so far.

It is as much as anything else for me as a social event and I get to bump into people that I have never met and have a laugh on common ground whilst re-kindling old friendships and swapping stories with old mates.

Unfortunately I didn’t do the whole event this year, but I will be back again next year and if things keep going the way they are then for many years to come.

Footsteps of Discovery

Neil and I recently had the chance to work with Footsteps of discovery and I have to say that it was a pleasure. Mark and Spanner run a very good outfit, the location that they work from is superb (not just the location itself, but how they’ve set the place up). It is a truly professional setup and the guys themselves are very professional in the way they conduct themselves and their business.
The other instructors that we met (Jim, Ross, Jamie, Ben and Richie) were also very good and everyone at Footsteps sing from the same song sheet.
Apart from that it was also very nice working with the guys as they are all very nice genuine people and I look forward to working with them in the future.

A Change of Direction??

Neil and I have been chatting recently, we discussed what green-craft is and how it started, what the original direction was and we were actually quite surprised with the direction that it’s taken, which is nowhere near what we originally intended.

We never really set out to make kit for people, that has been a bi-product of people asking where we got things, if we could make them one, my being made redundant a few years back and that path is the one which we have seemed to have oozed like pine sap from a tree.

It’s surprising how it’s actually changed the aspect of the site from being a skills based to a craft / production based site.

What of the old direction?

Well, we still practice those skills.

Are there going to be changes??

I would say that it’s more than likely, the website will change, possibly with certain elements of kit being discontinued. Courses and course content may change and be added to. Possibly time to start with the green-path (something Neil wrote many years ago).

I dare say that the website may well get a total re-write as Neil hasn’t had me re-do the whole site for at least a year, but that’s yet to be seen.

The gallery could change in as much as there is a lot more content that could be added along with subsections to it, but all this as yet is to be discussed and arranged at our next face to face.

Apart from that I am starting work on another Jack / Leather tankard using the Jack method of construction, which with the materials in use has caused a number of rather colourfull outbursts.

Well I am going to sit back and wait to see how things develop, in the end that’s pretty much all any of us can do, have a good one,


Hard Leather Goods and BlackJacks

Today as I was in town posting goods off for delivery I thought to call into the local saddlers. I had been wondering if they ever had need of hard leather goods (most everything in a lot of places are soft leather goods that a sewing machine can handle easily enough). I make pouches and the like which are classed as hard leather, they are stitched by hand and I was just wondering to be honest if they ever had a requirement for them.

It makes good business sense to speak with them (apart from the fact that they are nice helpful people) they told me pretty much what I expected to hear and that was that people are not willing to pay the price for hard leather goods because they don’t realise the amount of work that goes into them. They did mention that every now and again someone would come in and ask so they took my business card. That was rather cool of them.

Anyhow, whilst showing them what sort of thing that I made I pulled out a BlackJack that I have tried to make in a traditional manner from traditional materials (it had been taken down to the local haberdashery as I had purchased some needles to make it with and said that I would show them what it was for).

I was surprised to find someone that actually new what it was, now I have never seen a true jack in the flesh so I was quite impressed that someone new what it was. It turned out that the lady’s that own / run Leonard Coombe in Newton Abbot are the daughters of the last commercial maker of traditional Jacks in the country. I was asked if I would be interested in seeing pictures of their fathers work, this was exceptionally kind of them and I naturally said yes. They actually topped this a little while later when they retrieved an example of their fathers work (a traditional leather pitcher made in the blackjack style) that had been made for the Queens Coronation. This was a traditionally made item that was 57 years old and it was in very good condition, their father was a true artisan.

I have been researching BlackJacks for a good period of time now and this was just the ticket to let me know that I am on the right track, many thanks to the Ladies of Leonard Coombe for your kindness (they probably won’t read this, but if they do it would be more than churlish not to have given them a mention).

Well I am off to do some more leatherwork catch you later,


How things change

From Websites to weather, well a lot has happened since the last time I posted, It would appear that we have been a little Tardy.

So the courses page is up an running, more detail will be added gradually as I get it. We hope to be adding leatherwork / leathercraft courses to the courses page at a later date, I just need to come up with a format, work out the timings and costings for the course.

I did manage to get the roof back on my workshop before Christmas, which was cool, but I have been a little out of it with a touch of flu or a cold for the last couple of weeks or so I haven’t been able to get on with any of the new projects I have been thinking about.


I can’t remember the last time we had really decent proper snow down here, but we have it again and I must say that I am quite chuffed, everyone else thinks that I am mad, but I couldn’t give a stuff. For far too long we have been without the white stuff and it’s about time it made a return. They say that it’s causing chaos, well I remember snow when I was a kid and going to school and getting on with life, but then kids had legs and not wheels. I noticed people panic buying the other day, why?

It is plain to see that people have become very reliant on the car, the other day when I was wandering around the only people that I saw were people out in 4X4’s and one or 2 other pedestrians.

All in all things are changing, the website has had a little work done on it, just to get the music player in the gallery running the way I wanted it to run, the courses page has come along, the about us page has been updated, but still has an addition or two to make to it.

Well I have some html to try and sort out so I am off for a while, atb,


Workshop without a roof

This week has been a bit of a dead loss, I managed to get the pouch that I am doing for Piers finished, but failed to get it in the post.

To make matters worse, the house that I rent has no cavity wall insulation and suffers with damp (we only recently go loft insulation done as the rather pathetic 50mm at best was knackered). This has meant that we have got the people to come and do the cavities this coming week.

The major issue is of course that my workshop is attached to the end of the house and due to the fact that they need to drill holes every meter or so on that wall I have had to dismantle my workshop and remove the roof.

I know it has to be done, but it’s a real pain. The other problem will be fitting the roof again afterwards, as you just never know what we’re gonna get as far as the weather is concerned.

I had some good news about embossing plates so any leather work that is done in the future will probably now have a Green-Craft logo embossed into it post their arrival.

Beyond that, there’s not been a lot going on.

Galleries and music nightmares

Well as you may have seen the Gallery now has music courtesy of Al Marconi and many hours of me playing silly buggers with the code.

The gallery is html based so it’s been fun trying to figure out how to embed a music player in a page. The problem being that the gallery is actually about 130 pages. In effect this means that every time a picture changes a new page loads, this would have meant embedding a music player into each page and that in turn would mean that every time a page loaded the music would restart.

The solution actually is / was quite straight forward when you know how, unfortunately I didn’t know how as I am totally self taught so I ended up digging around to find a viable solution to the problem.

I must have mulled it over in my mind for quite a while and the answer escaped my lips on many an occassion, it has something to do with frames. In the end I found a music player that worked with the gallery so I installed it placing the gallery in the top frame and the music player in the bottom. It works, but I would like to have a better music player placed there (something that scrolls the name of the artist and the name of the track would be nice), I’ll get to that at some stage.

I have recently found that the gallery links on the main site were pointed to the old gallery page that has since been deleted so from today is pretty much the first day that anyone other than someone that has been sent a direct link will actually find the gallery from the main site.

Once again many thanks to Al for allowing me to use some of his music and I am now going to get on with leatherwork again (now that things have dried fully) probably whilst listening to Muse (I appear to be addicted to the last three tracks of The Resistance) or Al Marconi’s album Terra Nova.

Toodle Pip!

I spoke with Al today

Well about the highlight of my day was an e-mail that Al Marconi sent me, he suggested another piece of music for the gallery, a piece called Nomad, so I have swapped out vertigo with Nomad to see what people think.

Beyond that today has been spent looking into if there is anyway of integrating an already existing installation of a web shop using Actinic or not. There is actually looking like two possible avenues to pursue. One involves rebuilding a website and integrating a totally custom built front end into the code produced by actinic and allowing Actinic to publish it to the web claiming that all the hard work is it’s own.

The other is to place Actinic in a sub-directory of the website root and repoint all of Actinics links to a higher directory and replace the index page and publish all of the custom build to the higher directory.

Although the top one sounds more work it is without too much of a doubt more likely to succeed and would probably be quicker to do in the long run. It also ultimately would give the ease of use of actinic to manage the shop / actalog and at the same time gives a nicer front end that ultimately would be pretty easy to customise.

Beyond that today we had a new Lidl’s open in the Newton Abbot area (at last). I broke the golden rule and went in on the very first day it was open, the place was stuffed with people trying to get bargains, who just couldn’t give a stuff about the rest of humanity. In their hustle and bustle they reminded me of stampeding wildebeest fighting and barging one another to ford their way across a river.

It also made a very relevant point, they always say that the youth of today have no manners, well most of the people that were in there today were senior citizens. As they continuosly rammed others with trolleys rather than asking politely “Could I get through please?”, they should look in the mirror and think again before levelling that accusing finger at the “Youth of today”.

Age does not give people the priveledge to be damned right rude.

Just after fighting my way out of Lidl’s I arrived home to get on with work and the phone rang, I answered and eventually the auto dialling system passed me onto the call center and I got someone on the other end asking for someone else that wasn’t here. They were told that and then they decided that they would try and sell me insurance instead, they were asked if they spoke English and when they replied “YES”, They were curtly told that I wasn’t interested and when they persisted I hung up on them.

Yes that was possibly rude of me, but how much do I need to say and do to make them take a hint, “I am trying to work FUCK OFF” would possibly of been the only other option.

I am still waiting for the leatherwork to dry so I can get on with customising the bag that Piers sent me and tomorrow I will be in Teignmouth helping shift kit from one place to the next and fixing a computer Keyboard for my mum.

Well that’s about it without me going into a full blown rant about call centres based abroad that bug the hell out of me, or the severe lack of manners exhibited by those who demand it from everyone else and you would expext to be setting an example.

Embedded Music

Well now that I have got the gallery running I have been thinking about embedding some music so that people can listen to music if they so desire. I know the type of music that I want to embed I have even spoken to the artist / creator of the pieces of music for his permission to embed music into the website, but I have a problem, I just don’t know what piece to embed.

All the pieces of music are by Al Marconi who I met a couple of years ago in Newton Abbot and they are from either of a couple of albums (Terra Nova or Monument) by Al that I own. So here goes we have a number of candidates and I would like to know peoples opinion.


Black Rain

Mauna Loa

Porcelain Rose

So the question is what do we thinks best suited to the gallery??