Life is full of contradictions

My life is full of me contradicting myself. Depending on the day, I might want this – and tomorrow I might want that.

The problem is it’s not about what breakfast cereal to eat – I wish it were that simple.

Should I focus on a lifestyle business – or shoot for the stars and try and build the next Tesla.

Do I want to be a solo-preneur – or build a fun and well executing team.

One day I want to be a multimillionaire and own houses across the world – tomorrow I want to become a minimalist and figure out what’s the smallest we need each month as a family to get by.

To be fair – all I wanted to do today was to curl up in bed and read my book. May be I should have just done that.

I want to start an adventure such as going on a cycling expedition – whereas in reality I hardly have the energy to get out of bed.

The questions are often “what I want” versus “what I potentially could be doing”. What I’m scared of is wasting my life. Sure a life style business is nice, but what about if I get to the end of my life and I feel I haven’t achieved what could have been?

iPhone 6s plus

Last week I got a new iPhone 6s plus. I didn’t go into the shop with a decision on whether to get the standard 6s or the plus, and went on a whim. Apparently I can return it within 14 days so we’ll see.

It is big – and I kind of wanted it as a mini tablet. The amount of phone calls I make are minimal, so if I can find something that helps me do text, whatsapp, email, reading and other web/work stuff then great if it can make a phone call too.

A couple of things I have noticed:

1, It is too big to text one handed. Not that I want to drive when I text. I absolutely hate anyone who uses their phone while they drive.

2, It is often too big for my pocket. This means I do not carry it around the house with me as much. If it is not with me, I don’t find myself wastefully checking Facebook just for the sake of it.

3, It is too big to take running. You would look like a plonker running down the road with this attached to your arm!

New podcast – Britstrapped

Martin Judd and I have finally got around to putting a podcast together. I think we first met at a Business of Software London networking event, and have been good friends ever since.

During the past 6 or 7 (may be more!) years we get together regularly for lunch or an evening meal and beers, and chat about how our businesses have been going and what our next plans are. Many times we have said this would make an interesting podcast.

After a few false starts at the end of 2014, we finally had the courage to record something and post it up. Now 5 episodes in – we are really enjoying doing it. Hopefully others find it interesting or useful.

Martin and I enjoy the accountability aspect of it. Doing the podcast means we ship something each week, and hopefully people will enjoy following along in our journey and struggles of running our own businesses.

Check it out at:
http://www.britstrapped.com

If you have any questions or topics you think we should cover on the show send them over!

Smoothies are the way forward?

http://joel.is/50-books-that-transformed-my-business-and-my-life
Always a sucker for a good list of book recommendations.

http://recode.net/2014/12/04/amazon-unveils-its-own-line-of-diapers-confirming-partners-biggest-fears
Always joking with friends about new business ideas, and whether they are Amazon proof. Fish and Chip shop might be the only answer soon? hahahaha

http://calnewport.com/blog/2014/12/07/deep-habits-never-plan-to-get-some-work-done/
Planning makes sure work gets done!

http://calnewport.com/blog/2014/11/11/warren-buffett-on-goals-if-its-not-the-most-important-thing-avoid-it-at-all-costs/
Planning what not to do, is almost as important as planning what to do! Have read similar ideas such as the ‘What not to do list’

https://medium.com/@garyvee/the-most-important-thing-you-dont-have-on-your-bucket-list-90f105e0c225
Thinking I should start aiming a bit higher and work towards buying Liverpool FC. Only problem is, if I paid that much for something, I’d want to be picking the team too!

http://www.stansberryradio.com/James-Altucher/Latest-Episodes/Episode/463/Ep-3-A-J-Jacobs-A-Biblical-Experiment
I’m working through the back catalogue of James Altuchers podcasts, and this is a real gem. I could listen to AJ Jacobs talk forever he’s so interesting! Can’t wait to start reading his books.

http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/diet_science_in_2014/
I am thinking home made smoothies might be the best way to get fruit (and more importantly) veg into me.

http://www.movoto.com/blog/movoto-com/buzzfeed-for-real-estate/
Great case study on content marketing. Shows any sector can write good content and get links when you mix it with other interesting niches/sectors.

Interesting Links

Some interesting things I have seen over the past couple of weeks…

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/11/mr-money-mustache-spend-like-youre-poor.html
https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/make-money-investing-tips/
http://www.businessinsider.com/finally-some-excellent-investment-advice-2011-12?IR=T
https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/investing-reading-list/
I love Mr Money Mustache – wish I could live as frugally as him! Some other good tips and thoughts on investing. I have picked a few shares in my ISA this year, and although they are doing OK (more by luck than judgement) I will sell them and buy index funds instead.

http://battellemedia.com/archives/2014/11/google-information-first-conglomerate.php
Interesting thoughts on why Google is getting into areas other than just search

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/meet-our-ceo-of-the-year/article21734931/
I had the pleasure of seeing Tobi Lütke present at The Business of Software conference a few years ago and he was nice enough to answer a few questions I had via email. Great to see Shopify doing so well.

http://moz.com/blog/panda-41-google-leaked-dos-and-donts-whiteboard-friday
Good video on staying on the right side of Panda

Interesting things

http://www.stansberryradio.com/James-Altucher/Latest-Episodes/Episode/803/Ep-62-Tony-Robbins-Money-is-Just-A-Game
Tony Robbins – people either love him or hate him. If you are into your self help books, I’m sure you have read either Awaken the Giant Within or Unlimited Power. I enjoy reading his stuff, but don’t go with all the hype. His new book is about money, and it has the same message as Scott Adams thoughts below on Matt Cutts blog, but in 500 pages. Anyhow – this interview with James Altucher is interesting and fun, and worth listening to.

https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/scott-adams-financial-advice/
If you don’t want to read Anthony Robbins new book, just read the blog post above – and you’ll be good.

http://www.adamsherk.com/seo/10-things-that-expose-good-sites-to-google-panda
Panda penalties are frustrating (we think we got hit by one in May). You won’t get any notice from Google you are under penalty, but at least working out of it is all in your own hands. Better still – take note of the above points and don’t get hit!

http://www.tropicalmba.com/quick-launch-biz-ideas
Want some business ideas you can start yourself in your spare time and then scale up – check this out.

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly
Check if your web page is mobile friendly

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2014/11/helping-users-find-mobile-friendly-pages.html
‘Mobile Friendly’ label that is starting to appear in some Google Search results. I’ve just noticed it appearing next to some of our pages this evening

http://nathanbarry.com/seasons/
You can’t work flat out all the time, or at least I can’t! Motivation and enthusiasm generally comes in bursts. Enjoy it when it happens, and manage things when you are feeling slow

http://nomadicbrood.com/captains-log-day-73/
I am very jealous of Brecht Palombo. I have done a couple of week long road trips in the US and they were some of my favourite times away. I’m determined to try and take Isabel and Sophie away for 6-12 months before Isabel starts school. I have started de-cluttering already!

http://startupclass.samaltman.com/courses/lec14
2nd lecture I have watched in this series, and again some invaluable points – and 2 good book recommendations.

Interesting Stuff

Some interesting things I have read or listened to recently…

http://marketingsignals.com/link-building-2015
Good thoughts, slow and surely, and honestly – wins the race!

http://moz.com/blog/the-danger-of-crossing-algorithms-panda-update-during-penguin-3
Some more interesting views on recent panda and penguin updates, and the future of these updates

http://www.northcutt.com/blog/2014/11/mounting-evidence-penguin-3-0-doesnt-work-how-you-think/
interesting idea that penguin penalties are related to a sites outbound links, rather than inbound

http://startupclass.samaltman.com/courses/lec15/
See your decisions through the eyes of your people

http://appelsiini.net/projects/lazyload
Testing lazy loading of images on some retailer page – will be interesting to see from an SEO perspective whether page speed, or assets on a page, give the most benefit.

https://econsultancy.com/blog/65712-how-does-google-judge-quality-content
Treat as one opinion piece from many on the subject. Getting links to pages is still biggest ranking factor.

http://www.stansberryradio.com/James-Altucher/Latest-Episodes/Episode/801/Ep-61-Overnight-Success-7-Years-in-the-Making
Founder of Scibd – nice interview by James Altucher. Didn’t realise Scribd have a book subscription offering – which sounds very good.

Microsoft.Devices.PhotoCamera change camera resolution

I’ve been having some fun building an app for my Windows Phone this weekend using Azure Mobile Services. I wanted to do some stuff with photos as well by uploading them to Azure Storage as blobs. The camera seems to default to the maximum resolution when using it in code so I wanted to set it to something smaller like 640 * 480 to make the size of the images smaller.

There is a nice code sample here of how to do it:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsphone/develop/hh202951(v=vs.105).aspx

But when I placed this code in the OnNavigatedTo method of my xaml page I was getting an error. Seems the way to get this to work off the bat is to make use of the camera_Initialized event. So in OnNavigatedTo add:

camera = new PhotoCamera();
camera.Initialized += camera_Initialized;

and in the camera_Initialized event you can change the resolution:

Size res = camera.AvailableResolutions.ElementAt(0);
camera.Resolution = res;

Hope this saves someone some time…!

Power of habits, runstreak and golfstreak

Since giving up playing football (soccer) around the age of 28 I’ve slowly been getting lazier and fatter. Gone are the days of being 72 kg and charging up and down the wing. 4 years after quitting football it got to the point where I needed to decide if I wanted to get fat and embrace obesity, or do something about it and get fit again. I’ve been playing golf since finishing football, but unfortunately that doesn’t keep the weight away. I’m aware I need to address my diet as well as exercise – I’m hoping that getting fitter will help drive healthier eating.

Ken Hughes is a crazy runner, doing ultra marathons and other crazy stuff like that. He introduced me to the idea of #runstreak, a group of people on twitter who run at least a mile each day (often more). Some people I’ve seen have run streaks of over 1,500 days and Ken himself at the time of writing is up to an impressive 184 days. The original idea seems to have come from Ron Hill who has run every day since 1964!!!

Usually when I’ve done running before to try and get fit I would plan something such as 3 runs a week. But when Saturday comes around and I am yet to even do one run I realise my plan has again failed. So I thought I’d give #runstreak a go – and amazingly right now I’m up to day 50. This include:

– 14 days running while on holiday in Mauritius.
– running a mile at 11:30pm at night after too many beers, just to keep my #runstreak going

At first it was pretty hard to motivate myself, and I didn’t expect to get anywhere close to 50 days – but now I actually look forward to my run each day. As someone who works from home it’s a good reason to get out of the house each day and means I have to plan my days out which helps with general productivity. I’ve got a Garmin GPS watch that allows me to track my distance and calories burnt – it’s very motivating trying to beat what you’ve done over the previous 30 days.

With #runstreak going so well, I wondered what other things I could apply this streak thing to. As you may know I do enjoy playing golf, but golf is one of those games you have to practice quite a lot to play well. It’s a vicious circle too, because if you don’t play well you can’t be bothered to practice. The past 18 months I have been on this vicious circle – playing once, playing badly, and then choosing not to play or practice again for the next 3 to 4 weeks. I wondered if #golfstreak could bring back the enjoyment of the game, and enjoyment of practicing again?

Sure enough it has! I am now up to day 27 of #golfstreak and am playing my best golf for nearly 2 years. On top of this I won the club championship at Theale Golf Club – the main competition of the year – and my handicap has come down. Of course I have to put up with the jokes from some of my fellow golfers about never doing any work and always being on the course, and may be you are thinking the same? But #golfstreak doesn’t mean you have to play 18 holes every day. It can be 50 balls down the driving range or 30 minutes practicing my chipping and putting. With longer evenings at the moment and planning ahead it’s not too tricky to get out and practice/play a bit each day.

The best thing of all is not getting nervous for competitions. For the club championship I just kept saying to myself “it’s just another day of #golfstreak” and while everybody else got nervous and shot their worst rounds of the year, I played nice and steady for 2 days. Sweet!

The weight hasn’t been tumbling off yet from #runstreak, but I’m definitely getting fitter and able to run faster and longer. I’ve given up diet coke this week (I was drinking about a litre a day), and chocolate should be next week. I might have to start #fruitstreak. Don’t even mention the house, I might have to start #DIYStreak soon!

I hope to keep #runstreak up as long as I can, but expect #golfstreak to come to an end when I have to travel due to work. Good thing about running is you just need yourself and some trainers, golf needs a bit more equipment unfortunately 🙂

5 Conclusions From Seeing The Stone Roses

I had the pleasure of watching The Stone Roses at Heaton Park yesterday – Saturday 30th June 2012. A day I’ll remember forever. I first got into music around 1994 with Oasis, so missed out on The Stone Roses when they were at their best in 1989 – and didn’t see the band before their split. I’ve seen Ian Brown, John Squire and Mani separately in their various guises – so was very excited when they announced getting back together with Reni too.

1, The crowd was great
I’ve been to loads of Oasis gigs and there has always been a bit of a feeling that things could kick off at any moment. People seem quite aggressive and up for a brawl. The crowd at the Stone Roses average age was probably a bit older than the last time I saw Oasis at Wembley, but I think the fact that the music is more relaxed and chilled sets the feeling for everyone. I didn’t see one instance of trouble all day, and everybody was really happy and smiling to each other. Apparently there was some trouble at the bar the night before with people struggling to get served quickly – but there wasn’t any evidence of this on Saturday.

2, The Stone Roses were great
They were better than I could have imagined. I was worried about going to see them in case they sucked – but it was an amazing day, and they were amazing. Nothing else to say really…

3, Beady Eye need Noel Gallagher
It must be annoying for Beady Eye that the songs people enjoyed most were the couple of Oasis covers they did – Rock n Roll Star and Morning Glory. I think their own stuff would be average Oasis songs at best. And even these Oasis covers they did weren’t as good as ‘proper’ Oasis with Noel playing. But then I always was a Noel person 🙂

4, John Squire, Mani and Reni are awesome musicans
Beady Eye had Andy Bell and Gem Archer on guitar, bass, drumer and keyboard player – and of course Liam Gallagher singing – but they didn’t seem to produce as much noise and music as just the 3 of Squire, Mani and Reni. It’s interesting listening to The Stone Roses play with just a single guitarist as they use the moments of not playing as important parts of the song, and of course Mani is an aweseome bass player so almost acts as a second guitarist.

I also wonder if they keep the PA at 8 or 9 for the support acts and then wack it up to 10 for the main act.

5, I wish I continued playing the guitar from being a teenager and in a band 🙂 But of course there are many interests and hobbies I wish I continued or focused more on – playing golf from when I started at 10, interest in making computer games, cycling, art and drawing.
But interests come and go – but there has to be something said about focusing on one skill.

Even now though I couldn’t choose just one of the above things to focus entirely on.

Did The Stone Roses get back together for the money? They’ll certainly be making a lot of money just from these Heaton Park gigs and it’ll be interesting to see if they write any new songs. I don’t think anybody who saw them play yesterday cares though and the band did seem to be enjoying themselves rather than just going through the motions.