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, 12 August 2013


The aim of this post is simply to document some of the more useful resources available on the EIOPA website:

The link below takes you to the contents of the 2011 final report.  These cover the QRT templates and supporting narrative as resulted from the QIS5 discussions.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Become a Better Presenter

After recently attending Lorna Sheldon's "Master Your Message" 1 day workshop (Level 2 of the Professional Communicator Programme) I just had to write a few words to say how beneficial it was.

The  focus of the workshop is how to deliver a powerful and flowing presentation.  Our class size was small (6 people) and easily accessible from the motorway.  We began the morning with a quick review of the learning points from Level 1, and moved onto the new material..

  • How to open a presentation with impact
  • How to keep an audience engaged with clear delivery points
  • How to link points to ensure a definite 'flow'
We were soon onto the practical phase.. Preparing a presentation, against the clock!  By 3pm we were ready to deliver, and took it in turns to speak and to give each other feedback.  The worst (sorry best) bit was the fact that our sessions were also video recorded!

The feedback I got from Lorna was excellent, I had no idea I was using so many filler words, or looking at slides (not audience).  Even though I knew that this was bad technique, I was still doing it.. Which shows that practice (and active feedback) really does make perfect.

Anyway, I will happily recommend Lorna and the Professional Communicator Programme to anyone who needs to speak in front of a group - and be good at it!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

PechaKucha 20x20

Concerned about hosting (or being) a boring presenter?  Try the PechaKucha approach!

Basically the idea is that you have 20 slides (no more, no less).  Each slide is shown for exactly 20 seconds - and automatically advances, whether the presenter is ready or not.   The presentation will last for exactly 6 mins and 40 seconds..

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: