Comtek - A North East Company Offering Fantastic IT Support

If there's one thing I've learnt about IT since I left school and entered the world of work, it's that everyone's understanding of even the most popular of resources is completely varied. Having met people who genuinely don't know how to turn their computer on through to those who seem to have a knowledge of data networks and backup storage way beyond their years, it's actually something I find really interesting - what other resources can you think of where there's such a huge gap in its understanding?

Fortunately, Comtek fully understand this and as an established IT support North East company with clients right throughout the UK, they provide a service that is perfectly suited to your organisation whether you need some highly specific advice or simply a little assistance getting up and running with a new laptop.

A company I've had the pleasure to work with for several months now, Comtek are a company who genuinely care about their customers. They're fully aware that everyone's understanding of IT and their individual requirements can be considerably different and what I love most is that their approach - whether you're speaking to them face-to-face or reading their blog - is adjusted depending on the topic in question and your prior knowledge.

For instance, if you take a look at their blog, you'll see it's full of posts around a variety of different IT related topics and whilst they're all about different subjects, they combine the right amount of technical information with a straightforward explanation to ensure that everyone can benefit.

What's more, the company have also got a huge focus on helping small businesses succeed when it comes to IT and you'll notice that several of the posts on their blog provide information on topics that many small business owners are so often asking.

A great example is a blog post from March titled 'IT Security - Are You More Wary Of The Phrase Than The Processes?'. Within it, they discussed the security of an IT environment and how important it is to invest in it today, but also that it really doesn't have to be as daunting as you may first believe - in many instances, people shy away from even looking at it on a basic level because of what they've heard, when the truth is it can be particularly easy to get the level of security you actually need.

Whether you're looking for complete IT support in Newcastle or just want a bit of help getting started with a piece of software, I'm certain that from looking at the posts being published and knowing Comtek as a company, you won't be disappointed if you get in touch (and in all honesty, you may find just what it is you're looking for from reading the blog alone!).

Could The Doulton Lady Open Your Eyes To A New Industry?

At Zine, we offer a range of different digital marketing services, from web design through to SEO and because of this, we work with a vast array of different clients. Generally speaking, I've worked within a client's industry in some way, shape or form in the past. It might not have been with a company who offered the exact same services, but I've usually got at least a basic understanding of the client's industry; a little foundation knowledge that can be utilised within a strategy.

Occasionally, I come across a client who works in an industry I have absolutely zero knowledge of - and The Doulton Lady is one of them. At The Doulton Lady, they offer an extensive range of collectable figurines and specialise in providing those that have been discontinued by Royal Doulton.

Now as many people will have, I'd heard of Royal Doulton and was even certain a couple of family members had some of the company's figurines, but that was about the extent of my knowledge when we first started working together. Over the last few months, however, my knowledge of the industry has grown significantly - as has my interest in it! - all thanks to the company blog.

The blog is packed full of information, advice and news, covering a vast array of different JasminLive topics, but all coming back to the different ranges of products that the company offer. With the blog fitting in with the company's branding perfectly (and the images used within the content so often showcasing the products you can purchase from The Doulton Lady), land on any blog post and whether you know a lot about the industry or not, we're almost certain you'll learn something new or discover something of interest.

The blog post from 26th February is a prime example, as it offers seven interesting facts about Royal Doulton. One of my favourite is that Royal Doulton, a company renowned for their collectable figurines and bone china items originally started out producing the one thing I doubt anyone would ever guess - sewage pipes!

I really do enjoy working alongside every single client and more often than not, learn at least a handful of different things from each client. With The Doulton Lady, however, I've not only learnt a whole host of information about Royal Doulton figurines, but my eyes have been opened to an industry I had no idea was as active and as thriving as it is - and I'm sure by reading The Doulton Lady's blog, you'll soon have your eyes opened, too.

ECBM - The Key To Your Career's Success

If you take a look back through the blogs I've talked about over the years, you'll see that they're all English speaking. They're all from companies whose primary tongue is English and whose audience is made up primarily of English speaking readers. There was no real reason behind this, other than the fact when I'm searching for blogs myself, I hone in the ones I can actually read! Sure, I can get by with French and I speak a little conversational Turkish, but when I'm reading LiveJasmin blogs, I like to do so with ones I can understand quickly and easily.

Today, however, I want to talk about one I can't do that with. Sounds a little strange, I know, but the European College of Business and Management's blog is an interesting one to read if you're a German speaker. For those of you who don't know about the European College of Business and Management (ECBM), they're the fully and officially accredited college of London's German-British Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Generally speaking, they specialise in providing a range of university courses, from bachelor through to master degree programme ('masterstudiengänge' if my German skills are correct!) level in the UK, Germany and several other countries and have forged fantastic relationships with both UK based universities and organisations and globally recognised brands.

The main reason I wanted to mention them today is that I started working with ECBM as part of my current role at Zine when I joined back in November 2012 and although, as a client, the general processes and procedures are not really any different to other clients', certain aspects have allowed me to be involved in a way that I haven't been in the past.

For example, the posts on the ECBM blog cover a vast array of different topics. From company news through to how you can be the most successful student you possibly can be by correctly managing your time, they all make for very interesting reads - and the way I know this is the content is produced in English first and then translated to German by a native speaker, ensuring it's of the highest quality possible.

Looking at the blog itself, the whole aim has been to keep it as simple as it could be. The focus is to be purely on the content and so you'll see the blog has, generally speaking, stayed away from images and even bright colours. Everything's clean, crisp and clear.

The idea behind this is to make the blog as simple to read as possible. Understanding that people whose native tongue isn't German may be reading the blog posts and that even if it is, some of the content may take a little time to 'sink in', the blog doesn't want to offer any type of distraction. As the blog grows, it's highly likely it's design will develop, but at the present moment in time, we enjoy the way it looks and feels, believing it meets reader requirements perfectly.

Working with ECBM, I've learnt a lot about the education opportunities available if you just take the time to look for them (as well as being able to brush up on my German a little - I'm now fully aware that 'berufsbegleitend studieren' means 'part time study'…I think!) and really do feel that if you're interested in what ECBM offer, stopping by their blog and reading through the content could do a lot to help answer a variety of different questions you may have.

Keep on track with World Superbike News

Firstly, I've got to say to anyone reading this review (and apologies in advance to any readers that are into the World Superbike Championship or in fact, any other type of motorbike racing) that I'm not a Superbike (or bike racing in general) fan. Or at least I wasn't until a few weeks back when I was asked to produce some writing on the World Superbike Championship. Now I'm addicted.

The 2010 championship started in February and two races in I can't get enough. It's because of this that I came across World Superbike News, a blog that provides up to the minute information on SKB (the more common name for the championship…I believe).

Covering the last two years championships, World Superbike News features everything from where to watch the races on television through to live sex chat videos of interviews with the riders. Most recently there's a video of Chris Vermeulen, the rider who came off his bike during the opening race of the championship and hit the tyre wall after having his bike follow behind him, missing him by inches.

It didn't look good at the time and it turns out he's badly damaged his knee - something which World Superbike News reported on straight away. There's no arguing that Superbikes aren't as popular as other sports in the UK, but if you're into racing and have even a basic interest in bikes, I'd really recommended heading over to this blog to see if you get as sucked in with the sport as I have.

Arm your small business with help from BizAmmo

Owned by Jennifer Mattern, the same person who owns All Freelance Writing (and who was the guest in last month's 'Inteview With A Blogger' feature), BizAmmo styles itself as being 'your small business arsenal' and aims to provide as much assistance as possible in a variety of different areas for small businesses.

Relatively simple in its design, the main part of the blog is without doubt its seemingly endless content. With posts dating back almost four years, there is enough resources on the blog to get your teeth into for weeks on end. Furthermore, although the posts may be initially broken down into nine separate areas, the topics that are covered are extremely vast and varied and range from how not to write a press release through to how to find sustainable green resources from your business.

It must be remembered that everything on BizAmmo is completely free and there are no hidden costs of any kind. However, whilst there may be no fees involved, this does not in any way, shape or form mean that the content is itself cheap - the posts are provided primarily by Jennifer Mattern herself, who is extremely experienced in small business management and ownership, alongside having a substantial amount of experience in other relevant areas.

Due to various other projects, BizAmmo was put on the back burner after April 2009. However, it is currently being relaunched and so you should start to see plenty of fresh, new content hitting the blog over the coming weeks - well worth bookmarking, subscribing to the RSS feed or simply checking back regularly.

Muses on financial life with the Money Saving Expert blog

Everyone wants to save money. Whether you have to watch your outgoings and pull your belt in because money isn't particularly in abundance or you can afford to go out on a weekend and buy a new Ferrari, with cash (…that was in your wallet), we all like to make sure that we're receiving the best deal that we can.

To help with this, in the UK there are dozens of different dedicated TV programs and specialist features on more general programs that are all about managing your money and nine times out of ten, they will feature a guy called Martin Lewis.

By trade, Martin is a journalist and specialises in the financial aspect, more specifically personal finance in relation to consumer spending. Running his own very popular website Money Saving Expert, Martin also regularly updates the Money Saving Expert blog, which is a more relaxed look at the financial side of life, compared to the general website which is jam packed full of helpful hints and tips, as well as the latest updates that could have an effect on people financially.

For example, the Money Saving Expert blog has featured everything from the success of that oh-so-annoying advert with the opera singer (Go compare, go compare…) to how you could make £6,000 buying a discounted engagement ring off Amazon. There's some more general stuff in there, too, like Martin's honest take on feeling uncomfortable when handed a blank taxi receipt to the reason why girls don't go to the toilet for a, ahem, when at work.

A lot of the posts make for some very interesting reading, especially when you consider that they're from someone who used to do stand-up comedy whilst studying for a degree in law.

Make A Living Writing with one easy blog

I'm reviewing the third freelance writing blog in the final post for this week and it's one that can help any writer succeed in the industry - definitely a blog to check out for any writer.

Make A Living Writing is the blog of Carol Tice, a popular writer in the writing community. Respected by aspiring and successful writers alike, Carol has separated the blog from her main website recently and it now stands apart from Carol's website, but with just as much information and useful resources.

There's an particularly useful post on the blog about the top ten negotiation tips for freelance writers which features some invaluable advice for ensuring that you get the most appropriate rate for the gig. For example, one of the main points they make is to be vague about your costing for the project, so to allow the client to offer a rate first. It sounds simple and common sense when you're saying it, but how many of you have actually done it?

As well as this, Carol offers her own mentoring service through Make A Living Writing. Costing $400, you get a substantial amount of telephone and e-mail support and if the reviews and reports from her past customers are anything to go by, the $400 is an absolutley nominal fee to pay. Making a living as a successful freelance writer can be something that is difficult for anyone to achieve. However, Carol Tice's Making A Living Writing blog should, even if only minimally, help you on your way to becoming a full time, successful freelance writer.

I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien, I'm an American in the Netherlands

When looking at moving abroad, away from your home country, depending on who you ask, you will either be greeted with a reply of dread and doom or one of extreme excitement and interest. Some people take to moving away like a duck to water, whilst others want nothing more than to be within walking distance of Mum, Dad, Uncle Bill and second cousin Jake.

If you fall into the latter category and think that moving abroad can be a particularly daunting experience, what can help is knowing people who come from a similar background to you reporting and providing information on the considerable task that you are about to carry out.

Clogs and Tulips is the blog of Tiffany Jansen, an American, originally from Maryland, USA. In short, Tiffany met a Dutchman in 2007, fell in love, got married and moved back to his homeland where they have lived happily ever since.

Understanding the importance of helping fellow expats (or wannabe' expats), Tiffany set up Clogs and Tulips to not only provide information on various aspects of Dutch life, but also to act as a gathering place for those who have moved, or want to move, to Holland (or the Netherlands in general). As someone who has no immediate plans to move away from the UK, you might think that this blog would be of no relevance to me. However, it is a particularly interesting blog to read through for anyone, as Tiffany details a range of different points on her new wedded life with a Dutchman. Freelance Writing - any idea what it's all about?

Dubious headlines are becoming synonymous with this blog. As a writer, I follow several different writing blogs on a regular basis. In the past I've reviewed All Freelance Writing and Freelance Writing Jobs and this review is the first of several reviews based around writing blogs this week.

If you have been online for at least a few weeks, it is highly likely that you will have come across - a website that, to a certain extent, has information and resources on (or 'about') everything.

Within this popular website is one of my favourite freelance writing blogs, named simply Freelance Writing.

Run by Allena Tapia, this section of is one of the more popular writing blogs online and many members of the online writing community can be regularly seen commenting and participating often in discussions.

For those of you who are into writing, or thinking about beginning to write on a freelance basis, Freelance Writing is highly recommended as aside from the fantastic community aspect, Allena is particularly open with her information and I'm yet to come across a question that she has shrugged off - something which can be particularly useful for beginner writers. Freelance Writing is a great blog for every writer, with information and resources suited to writers of all abilites. Plus, with Allena's in-depth knowledge of freelance writing on various different topics and in a range of different styles, by following the blog you'll be well on your way to becoming an accomplished and knowledgeable freelance writer.

Get your techy cap on

For those of you who don't know who Mr Cutts is, Matt is head of Google's Webspam team and joined the workforce way back in 2000. He spent many years working and studying in mathematics and computer science prior to his move to Google and is the brains behind Google's SafeSearch filter. Now, if you're not technologically minded, it can be tempting to think that Matt Cutts' blog is not for you. And, well, maybe you'd be right.

OK, so Matt Cutts' blog may not be solely devoted to all things technical and he does stray from that side of things occasionally. However, Matt is a technological Google whizz, so what else would you expect him to blog about?

Matt speaks about all things Google, as well as many different aspects of Search Engine Optimisation, with many of his blog posts becoming instant talking points on a range of SEO and webmaster forums, as a lot of the information mentioned is relatively unknown, particularly expected or simply interesting and discussion worthy.

This blog is definitely worth of visit, especially for anyone who owns their own website. Just, you know, make sure you're wearing your techy cap when you do.