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:

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

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Smoothies are the way forward?
Always a sucker for a good list of book recommendations.
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
Planning makes sure work gets done!
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’
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!
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.
I am thinking home made smoothies might be the best way to get fruit (and more importantly) veg into me.
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.

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Interesting Links

Some interesting things I have seen over the past couple of weeks…
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.
Interesting thoughts on why Google is getting into areas other than just search
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.
Good video on staying on the right side of Panda

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Interesting things
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.
If you don’t want to read Anthony Robbins new book, just read the blog post above – and you’ll be good.
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!
Want some business ideas you can start yourself in your spare time and then scale up – check this out.
Check if your web page is mobile friendly
‘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
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
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!
2nd lecture I have watched in this series, and again some invaluable points – and 2 good book recommendations.

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Interesting Stuff

Some interesting things I have read or listened to recently…
Good thoughts, slow and surely, and honestly – wins the race!
Some more interesting views on recent panda and penguin updates, and the future of these updates
interesting idea that penguin penalties are related to a sites outbound links, rather than inbound
See your decisions through the eyes of your people
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.
Treat as one opinion piece from many on the subject. Getting links to pages is still biggest ranking factor.
Founder of Scibd – nice interview by James Altucher. Didn’t realise Scribd have a book subscription offering – which sounds very good.

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Disavow Tool Idea

By the time the next Google Penguin update runs it could have been 12 months since the last big update. That is far too long (and is really fucking up the internet) – but I will save that moan for another blog post!

A monthly job for us has been analyzing our links and deciding which to tell Google to ignore as they are from spammy sites. To be completely clear, we try and do everything whiter than white. A lot of sites in our sector have really suffered from buying crappy spammy links and being hit by Google penalties so we have always tried to do things the right way. Even so – shitty sites still link to us, for various reasons:

1, People are trying to do negative SEO on us and get us penalized by Google so their ranking increases

2, Other sites actually include linking to our site as part of their practice of buying links and expired domains, to try and show Google their linking strategy is legit.

3, Sometimes relatively new or low quality sites will link to you

As part of wanting to keep a clean and proper link profile we have been doing a monthly check of links reported from various SEO tools such as MajesticSEO and Hrefs, and of course the links reported in Google Web Master Tools.

At the moment it seems a bit of a manual process of using Microsoft Excel and Notepad to create your disavow file, and I’m sure a tool could be a better job. Here are the features I would consider being useful:

1, Ability to upload lists of links exported form other SEO tools mentioned above

2, Mark links and domains to be included in a disavow file.

3, Track which links have been previously uploaded, to save duplicated effort each month. Allow notes to be entered against domains/links.

4, Scoring of Urls to help the user decide whether to disavow links

5, One click generation of your disavow file

6, When urls are imported, would be useful to highlight urls/domains other people have disavowed.

Sound like something you might use? Point 6 would certainly be useful once you have a large amount of users and would make generating a disavow file much easier!

If you think this tool would be useful, drop me a message : nick dot swan at gmail dot com

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runAllManagedModulesForAllRequests=”true” was something I added to all my web.config files for ASP.NET MVC when I wanted to run the web app in deployment on my Windows Server 2008 box.

I wanted to have Glimpse configured for the project though, and as this needed the ability to add (another) module in web.config, I decided to figure out why runAllManagedModulesForAllRequests was needed in the first place, understand a bit more about it, and then hopefully fix it properly as it always seemed a bit of a hack.

Thankfully there is some good advice here:

Don’t use runAllManagedModulesForAllRequests=”true” when getting your MVC routing to work

And a hotfix from Microsoft so you do not need to do any hacking with web.config:

Edit 21/8/2013

Turns out applying the above fix might cause some issues if you then have a . in a url slug, eg /blog/

The .com part causes an issue.

The below link to a stackoverflow answer shows how to add a httphandler that solves this problem…

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ASP.NET MVC RenderSection

This post is as much for my own use as others as I’m always forgetting how to add sections to an mvc masterpage.

In the master page add your subsection using:


and in the views implement this section using:

@section Footer {
<p>This is my footer</p>

You can make the section optional in your view:

<footer>@RenderSection(“Footer”, required: false)</footer>

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Book Review : 3 secrets to effective time investment

Picked this up as Cal Newport wrote the forward and mentioned it on his blog. I took away a few key points. A lot of the book I was able to skim read, but if I can keep myself in the frame of mind of choosing where to invest my time rather than it getting spent – it’ll be worth the read.

Here are my notes:

Plan your day, week, month – make sure you invest your time where you want to.

When frustrated by everyone else think “what can I work on that is under my control and can make a different”

Don’t compare yourself to others – you don’t know how much help they get, or sacrifices in other areas they have made.

Set realistic expectations of yourself – don’t set ridiculous project deadlines

Be compassionate to yourself

Don’t be a perfectionist! (unless it is truly important to you) – the cost of wanting everything to be perfect is horrible!

Don’t over commit – and only choose the things you want to invest your time in. Find out what you like saying Yes to and doing.

Set expectations – don’t answer emails too quickly – train others what to expect from you.

Big projects – people are scared of doing them and making progress as often these projects are public and very important.

Routines – help you make consistent progress on big projects without sacrificing health and key relationships.

Pick up the book from Amazon!

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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:

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…!

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