Saturday, 16 November 2013

Entrepreneur Toolkit

Setting up your own business?  Kickstart the process with this UK-centric quickstart guide!

Choose a company name & domain
This should be done in parallel (presuming you want identical name & domain).  Resources: - domain registration (price dependent on domain - £3 to £300 or more) - start a limited company.  £15.

Choose a hosting provider

Expense management system

Turn email into snail-mail (also allows faxes to be sent from email, but is more expensive for letters)

Monday, 20 May 2013

Bitcoin Workshop in Bristol - Sat 01JUN13 1200hrs

For Bitcoin enthusiasts - be advised that there is a Bitcoin Workshop being held in Bristol at 12 midday on Saturday 1st June 2013.  
The venue is Cafe Kino, and the topic is "How to Buy, Sell and Host Bitcoin".

Sunday, 31 March 2013


About 20 minutes into my first Insanity session, I puked.  Then - 10 minutes later - puked again.  It may have been the Lucozade, it may have been the early start, but afterwards, I swore never to do it again!

This was forgotten one month later, when - after a belly full of beer - an Insanity advert came on the TV.  I announced then and there that I would complete the program!  Reality kicked in the very next day.

So what is Insanity?

It's basically an 'at home' fitness program.  Watch the video, do the drills (monkey see, monkey do).  The only equipment needed is as follows:

 - Cross trainers (there is a lot of side to side jumping - my running trainers split after just 4 weeks)
 - Pen and paper (for recording results of your 'fit test').
 - Water (lots of it!)
 - Towel (for mopping sweat.  I'm not kidding.)

The program goes like this:


Month 2

So there are 55 days of workouts during the 63 day program.  Some of those days, as you can see, involve two workouts.  The asterisk (*) above shows where workouts can be swapped for longer / harder ones if you were lucky enough (like me) to have the 'deluxe' edition.

During month 1, the sessions are between 40 minutes and an hour.   During month two, the sessions range from 55 mins to over 1.5 hours.  Each session will involve a "warm up", which will ensure that you are effectively broken before you even begin!  Followed by stretches, and then the -real- circuits.

None of the circuits are that hard.  Individually.  It's the stacking of the sessions, coupled with minimal breaks, that leaves you gasping on the floor like a goldfish!

That however, for me, was not the most insane thing about Insanity.

What is so insane about Insanity?

To put it bluntly - fitting it into your life!  This is what takes serious willpower and commitment.  After a session, you need to wait another 10-15 minutes just to stop sweating.  So overall - excluding shower time (presumably you'd do that anyway!) - you are looking at fitting in between 55mins and 1hr 45mins of additional activity, 6 days a week for two months!
Not only that - you need space.  Enough to properly jump around in.  I have been travelling a lot, which has meant occasionally lifting up the bed and moving it into the hallway to make room!

Places I have done insanity:

  • Kendal
  • Halifax
  • Catterick
  • Bristol
  • Swindon
  • Longmoor
  • Minehead
  • Paignton
  • France (Paris)
  • Germany (Dusseldorf)
  • On the beach
  • In the dark (with a head torch)
  • Outside in the rain

The verdict

There are many critics of this program, and many have started it.  However - very few have finished it!  I would say this has got nothing to do with 'fitness' and everything to do with.. willpower.  It takes serious willpower to complete the 63 days.

At the end of it, you most certainly will be a lot fitter.  You will experience the incredible satisfaction of recording your final fit test score.  But - best of all - it will be over!!  And 'normal life' can resume..

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Online Storage

Have you ever bought a new laptop PC?  Or felt the need to access your files from another device - such as your phone?  Or a work computer?

Wouldn't you agree that its an absolute pain to have your files stored somewhere you can't access them?  Like on a broken PC?  Or a laptop that has been stolen from you?  (Imagine losing all those photos - forever!)

Of course there is an answer, and its been around for years.  You should be storing ALL your important documents in the CLOUD!

Thankfully this is easier than ever with a whole range of providers offering free services (such as google docs).  However there are a couple which I think are worthy of special mention:


I subscribe to SafeSync, and get 100gb of storage for approx £50 per year.  SafeSync offer great services such as ability to share documents with non-subscribers, retrievable backups, android / iphone access, search facility and the ability to play videos / music etc direct from source (ie without downloading).  SafeSync are - quite simply - the BEST storage providers on the web (and in fact cheaper than DropBox for paid services).


Whilst I think SafeSync is the best option for storing (precious) documents online, the fact is that most people don't like to pay for stuff!  Which is why DropBox is my second recommendation.  The great thing about dropbox is not that you get 2gb of storage for free (you get this with google docs), but that you can then use referrals to increase this up to 18gb.

Both DropBox and SafeSync offer applications which can be downloaded to your pc, so you can still work offline (away from the internet) and have the peace of mind to know that all your files will be backed up in the cloud as soon as you reconnect.

Never lose a photo again!  Click to join up:

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Wordpress accepts Bitcoin

News just in - the worlds 22nd most accessed site in the world now accepts Bitcoin!  Why?  Because it allows access for bloggers from approx 60 countries that would not otherwise be able to use their services, due to the restrictive policies of Paypal and credit card companies.

Besides - Paypal is expensive!

As noted on the WordPress website, it is still not particularly easy to get hold of Bitcoins.  However one mechanism that you could use is Bitmit - basically 'ebay for Bitcoin'.  You can even sell cash for Bitcoins!  Alternatively, MtGox - the worlds biggest Bitcoin exchange - allows bank transfers from most major countries.  For business owners out there - they even have an app you can use to receive Bitcoins as payment..

Monday, 12 November 2012

Mind Mapping with MindMeister

Today I'm going to show you around my favourite mind mapping tool - MindMeister.

I first subscribed to MindMeister approx 2 years ago, when it was the first to deliver an Android mind-mapping capability.  They are still at the forefront of this industry, having just been selected by google as their preferred partner for delivering mind maps via Google Docs (sorry, google DRIVE!).


What should you look for in a mind mapping provider?
  •  Wide range of mind map formats (.mind, .mm, .mmap, .xmind)
  •  Web based functionality (so you can access your mind maps from any device)
  •  Android / iPhone compatibility 
  •  Ease of sign on (re-use your google account, openid or facebook login)
  •  Market leader (you don't want your provider to go bust and lose all your maps)
MindMeister ticks all these boxes!  Which is why I have a paid subscription, however this is only really necessary if you want more than 10 maps.  Up to 10 mind maps is FREE!  (You get three with the basic package, and can earn 7 more on referrals).

Here is a screenshot of my homepage:

And here is a (very basic) mind map.  This is actually a lot bigger, I have collapsed it to fit on the screen:

Basically, mind maps are BRILLIANT for quickly getting to grips with a concept or idea, allows you to create links to other nodes (or other mind maps), you can share and collaborate on mind maps (in REAL time!  see below)..  You can post links / images / files etc on each node.   Mind maps are awesome.

So how do you get started with mind maps?  Simples.  Click here!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Interrobang?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! wtf‽

Watching a programme tonight (apparently it was called "QI") and they discussed a punctuation mark known as the interrobang.  This symbol combines ? and !, and is used in rhetorical questions.  How useful is that‽

The interrobang was first proposed by Martin K Speckter in 1962 in the magazine TYPEtalks.  It was subsequently included in the release of the Americana typeface in 1966, and there was even an interrobang key on some Remington typewriters by 1968.  During the 1970s it was possible to purchase interrobang keycaps and typefaces for certain Smith-Corona typewriters.
Ultimately.. the interrobang failed to become a standard punctuation mark.  However it is available in WingDings 2 (press the "]" key) as well as Calibri (the default Office 2007 font).  It is also a unicode character  - so you can get it in many applications by holding ALT and typing 8253.  The actual unicode encoding is U+203D however this can be converted by setting your windows calculator to scientific / programmer mode, setting the base to HEX and typing 203D - then switching back to DEC (gives 8253). In order for the character to display in html, you can use "& #8253;" (without the space).

There is even a dedicated website - would you believe it‽‽‽‽‽