Top 10 Posts of 2012

Published on 27 December 2012 in , ,

Every year there’s a kind of tradition on this blog of looking back at the most read posts for the year. It’s a pointless tradition and I have a hunch that no one actually cares one way, but I still keep on going with it for reasons I’ve never quite managed to work out. Other than the fact that it’s a blog post and keeps up the pretense that I do still update this blog regularly.

That’s perhaps rather a moot point. I’ve been acutely aware that I haven’t written much here this year. I’ve made a mere 27 posts before this one which means there’s not a huge amount of competition for the top 10 if we’re really honest. Indeed at several points I did ponder shuttering this blog, either temporarily or permanently.

The problem is time. Rambling Man has taken up a lot of it. Work has taken up a lot of it. Preparing for and the eventual arrival of a new born child has taken up a lot of it. This blog’s been down at the bottom of the pile I’m afraid. Still, it’s still here and whilst it’s still here, I will still do a Top 10.

So cue up that Top of the Pops theme tune, put on your best “chart presenter” voice and here goes!

10 – Oh Dell

There’s a flower stall outside Wimbledon I will never use because the owner was frankly downright rude to me once whilst I was trying to shelter from the rain many years ago. Down the road is an Italian restaurant that will never ever see me as a customer again due to terrible service and then arguing about the removal of part of the “optional service charge”. And as for the electrician who called me a “stuck up prick”…

Companies (and individuals) who offer customers appalling customer service don’t get my custom. Dell got in to that boat this year when I tried to buy a laptop. More below…

9 – How to avoid blog comment spam. Don’t have a blog.

In January I discovered something. I have multiple websites with comments. Two have the word “blog” in the title. The ones that have “blog” in the title get substantially more spam than the rest. Go figure.

8 – Options for publishing your own e-book

Basically written for a friend showing different ways to self-publish e-books. Things have moved on a little now and there’s more options than there were when I wrote this in May.

7 – A tearful farewell to working in West London

This summer I had an office move. I moved from Acton in West London to Barbican, right next to the city of London. I’d been working in West London both at the BBC and then at LOVEFiLM, since 2005. This was a big move.

There was always supposed to be a follow-up post to this. A “Happy Hello” to the bright lights of central London. But it never happened. Needless to say though, it’s lovely.

6 – How not to convey bus strike information

Bus strikes come and bus strikes go. They’re annoying at the time but then they end and things go back to normal and we forget about them.

But when they are on, you want good information. Unfortunately for this strike in June, Transport for London didn’t really get it right at first.

5 – Beware Dell

And here’s the follow-up post which shows in detail why I will never buy from Dell ever again. Truly awful customer service processes and a purchase that still hadn’t arrived after six weeks. I ended up buying my new PC on the high street. Cos frankly in this case, buying online sucked.

4 – FirstGroup. The rail company everyone just hates

This summer saw the Great British West Coast Mainline Franchise fiasco. The one where Virgin Trains were about to be stripped of their franchise, to be replaced by First Group – often known as Worst Group by its customers.

It went down with passengers like a lead balloon (and if you’ve ever traveled with First Great Western or First Capital Connect, you’ll probably understand why.) Of course the tale didn’t end there, and the result is that Virgin will continue to run the service for a bit longer whilst the entire rail franchise system is in utter chaos thanks to the Government completely screwing it all up (surprisingly they didn’t blame Labour which is their usual tactic in such circumstances.)

But anyway, let us head back to August when things were less clear cut. Because what I didn’t understand at the time (and don’t know) is how First Group can seemingly be so oblivious to the fact that huge swathes of the traveling public simply can’t stand the company. They have one of the worst reputations in the rail industry. Now that National Express barely run any rail services anyway.

Maybe one day they’ll work it out. I won’t hedge my bets on it being soon though.

3 – Simple Kid: The Road

The blog makes a brief foray in to music coverage with a post about the wonderful track “The Road” from Simple Kid which, after much trying, was finally made available as a single. Sadly it was too late for Simple Kid himself as he (Ciaran McFeely) had already quit the music industry. Head over to this article to see why that’s a real shame.

2 – The Survival of the Caledonian Sleeper

Proving once again that posts about public transport provide a goldmine of hits for this blog (I don’t know why I simply don’t shove a picture of a bus at the top of the page and have done with it) comes this post at number 2.

Yes, it’s “yet another post about sleeper trains” – this one documenting gratefully the survival of the Caledonian Sleeper which survived a review and consultation on its service by Transport for Scotland. And I’m glad as I love it to bits. Indeed I had two journeys on it planned this year as well. Sadly one didn’t happen when appalling weather caused a landslip on the Fort William line, but the service was restored in time for us to head back to London down on what is, for my money, the best train journey in Britain.

Long may the sleeper continue.

1 – Always need to touch in and touch out with Oyster? Not according to Southeastern

And here we finally get to the number one slot, and it’s another “public transport” post – and yet another one that meets with “usability”. Maybe I should not only shove a picture of a bus up there, but I should turn this in to a “the usability of Public Transport” blog, although frankly I suspect no one would know what I meant by that.

I’d probably have people thinking the blog should be full of comments about who difficult it is to access the tube by wheelchair at Hounslow East station, rather than what I actually mean which is looking at how public transport messaging, fares and systems shouldn’t be baffling and incomprehensible to the public.

Take Oyster’s “always touch in and touch out” message, like this post did. Cos Southeastern Trains (a company almost as hated as Worst Group) managed to contradict that message for me when using Boundary Zone tickets. Something’s wrong if your flagship message to customers is being contradicted dudes…

So there you go. That’s the Top 10 for this year. Tomorrow we delve in to the archives and see which archive posts made it big time in 2012.