Three Ages of Invention

This Sunday Times article by Douglas Adam has resurfaced on the 10th anniversary of his death. It has following statements:

  1. everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;
  2. anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
  3. anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

It has these universal truths while also mentioning dinosaur technology terms: Hayes modems, Netscape, phone call cost with no reference to those things we take for granted today: broadband, iPlayer, iPhone, Facebook, Twitter.

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Two Years Since Peru

It’s been two years since our epic trip to Peru. We’ve been following our journal again retracing our steps through Cusco, Machu Picchu, Puno, Arequipa, Nazca and Pisco.

We posted all the Peru trip photos online but never got around to writing up the journal. Memories of the crazy old man in Puno, the over eager tour group in Cusco, the speeding taxi driver and the lost taxi driver, alpacas vs llamas,  and the joy of Wayna Picchu will all remain on paper for now.

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Giving With Kiva

As of March 2011, I’m up to 36 loans on Kiva. All loans have been to entrepreneurs in Peru, for a variety of retail and agriculture services.

It’s been massively rewarding to be able to help with a simple loan. Repayments have always arrived on time with no missed payments at all. Loan repayments are now at a level where every month they provide enough credit to be reloaned to another borrower.

If you’ve not used Kiva yet, please consider it as a great way to help those looking to help themselves, at no cost. Follow the progress of my loans and consider lending yourself. Maybe put some of your 0% credit to the advantage of those who need it.

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Gamecity 5 and Onward

I finally attended my first ever Gamecity in 2010, the festival’s fifth year. So it took four years to get there, but it was everything I expected it to be. However, it seems that it wasn’t everything the organisers expected it to be. In the closing speech which is traditionally an industry keynote, the festival director Ian Simons gave an insight into the struggles the festival is having to gain credibility within the industry.

This is a problem so cruel for the festival that the irony is overwhelming. The festival has been created to celebrate the industry, to applaud the creative geniuses behind games loved by millions, to help us appreciate gaming as an artform, to better understand its place in our culture and to discuss its social impact. But the very industry that it is celebrating doesn’t get it! The videogames industry, which loathes itself so much that it insists on being called the interactive entertainment industry, has missed the point completely.

Ian Simons was almost calling out that without the support of the videogames industry, there isn’t much of a festival and that the festival or the industry needs to bend to meet in the middle.

I’d say take a year off from pleasing a blinkered industry. Maybe better to ignore than include, that will guarantee that they’ll be begging to be involved. Next year, make it about the rich history of videogames. Some suggested talk titles would be:

  • Jeff Minter: The Man, The Legend, The Llamas
  • Angry Birds: The Flicking Phenomenon
  • Codemasters Retrospective
  • Outrun: The Game That Changed Soundtracks
  • Bedroom Coding: Then and Now
  • A screening of The King of Kong, and other classic videogame films
  • The Book of the Game: How Players Guide are written

I loved the videogames festival and I think that it definitely has its place. There is such a wealth of games, fans and history that even without industry support or input it can continue its greatness.

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Taking Hits on Twitseek

Twitseek.com has been blessed with a glut of traffic in the last few months. After being up for over a year, something has kicked in to drive traffic to the site.

Increased Page Views

A combination of Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics and Google Adsense stats have been used to try to understand the recent surge in traffic. It appears that unfortunately, this may need to be called the Justin Bieber effect. No, I didn’t know either.

Page Impressions

These are the page impressions for 2010 so far:

Jan – monthly 115 – daily avg 4
Feb – 99 – 4
Mar – 118 – 4
Apr – 255 – 9
May – 1,212 – 40
Jun – 3,891 – 129
Jul – 3,845 – 124
Aug – 5,036 – 162
Sep – 6,110 – 203

That’s  a total of 20,681 hits this year so far, with over half of those occurring in the last two months.

Monthly increase stats are:

Feb -14%
Mar +19%
Apr +116%
May +375%
Jun +221%
Jul -1%
Aug +30%
Sep +20%

The June, July, August figures are where the traffic really increased to significant volumes, levelling out in July but steadily increasing again in August and September. In order for the site to become a real asset, growth figures need to return to being in the triple digits.

Ad Revenue

Ad revenue as also increased throughout the year.

Jan – no revenue
Feb – no revenue
Mar – no revenue
Apr – no revenue
May – pence
Jun – £’s
Jul – £’s
Aug – £’s
Sep – £’s

This corresponds to a small amount of ad revenue, half of which occurred in the last month. A doubling of revenue in August is due to change in ad layout with inclusion of extra ad panel, as well as increased traffic to the site.

Changes

New features are always rolled out at http://beta.twitseek.com and this receives a significant amount of traffic too. Changes trialled here in August were the extra Adsense panel which has already been rolled out. Also, a Popular strip has been added to the top of the site to link to some of the apps and sites which are used to frequently post to Twitter. The Retweet button is a possible for future rollout too. It seems to fit into the interface without breaking the layout. It would be great to get some A/B testing set up for the site to try new layouts before rolling out.

Update: Added September stats.

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Willy Wonka of Carbonation

A great video of John Nese, the “Willy Wonka of carbonation”, from Galcos Soda Pop Stop by chow.com.

John Nese is talking about the massive variety of sodas they have for sale. His passion for the product is fantastic and a comparison to Gary Vaynerchuk of WineLibraryTV is not wrong. SodaLibraryTV anyone?

This great video is part of the Obessives series by chow.com which features knife makers, coffee makers, cheese makers and more.

via Rosie Sherry

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Kiva – The Game

Kiva is an amazing organisation which allows me to loan money to entrepreneurs on the other side of the world. And I love it. And I want to tell people about it.

Using services like Foursquare and Gowalla I cannot do anything without my social network hearing about it through updates to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I’d like to see the same integration with Kiva. It goes someway towards doing this but not enough.

Foursquare and Gowalla award badges and mayorships for completing certain tasks as a reward for both learning the system and using it.

It would be great to be rewarded the ‘First Loan’ badge or the ‘Peruvian Loan’ medal, the ‘Repeat Loan’ award, the ‘$100 Milestone Mark’ or the ‘Entrepreneur x 10’ medallion.

Adding a game element is a proven way to keep users returning to a service. The rise of social gaming also makes this a more acceptable process too. It is no longer just in the realm of World of Warcraft where you have experience points but also Farmville. If we could have as many people ‘playing’ Kiva as there are ploughing on Farmville, then the game would be on.

Updated – 13 Jul 2010
There’s a great article on exactly this topic on Inc.com, How To Incorporate Badges Into Your Website. Using terms like virtual merit badges and trophies it describes how services are encouraging contributions to the site. Foursquare has awarded one million badges to 500,000 users.

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Red Kites

I only know the Red Kite from the real ale produced by the Black Isle Brewery. It is the king of ales and was randomly discovered on a trip to Cawdor Castle.

Red Kites are massive. I’d imagined something the size of a kestrel. But they’re really massive. No, bigger than that. We first saw them flying over the market square in Thame, Oxfordshire. I’d have expected to have to trek for 4 days in the Scottish Highlands to see such a sight. It was much more of a surprise to see them swirling over the housing estates on the outskirts of Aylesbury.

They were culled between the 16th and 19th centuries and have gradually been reintroduced since. You’re not a #uktourist until you’ve seen one.

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Spread Eagle, Thame – Reviewed

We chose our hotel for the weekend very carefully. It could be said that we exercised more care than the hotel.

We were given a room from the 70’s. Then got the room we had paid for as seen on the web site. The shower overflowed. The food in the restaurant was great. The service in the restaurant was great. Our shower was overflowing into the kitchen. Getting back to our overheated room was not so great. It’s summer in England and it’s hot – don’t complain. The music from the pub up the road is deafening. Close the window. Sweat. Sleep. Wake. Sleep. Sweat. Wake. Sleep.

Explain our situation to today’s receptionist. Trek to a room at the opposite end of the hotel to use the shower. Great breakfast. Great service. Great discussion about how we can’t stay there for another night and decide to cut the weekend short. Discussion with receptionist results in early checkout without charge.

The web site makes no reference to refurbishment. We lucked out on the room we had. Check the Trip Advisor reports for the Spread Eagle at Thame and you’ll see similar unhappy customers. Hopefully you’ll see them before you become one.

  • 62% of travellers do not recommend
  • “The sink is the size of a lunch box and far too small to be practical in any way.”
  • “The website is very misleading, our room was not refurbished like some and felt more like a 3 star hotel which would have been fine but for £100 we were expecting something a lot better.”
  • “Stayed at this hotel a year ago when they must have recently started the refurb, and a year on, they don’t seem to have made much progress. I gather about a third of the rooms are complete and there is a new reception desk, but otherwise the public areas/corridors are in a poor state of decor.”

Read more bad reviews of the Spread Eagle, Thame, then book to go somewhere else.

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iPhone 4 Calling

I’ve been patiently waiting for the new iPhone to be announced since my contract on the iPhone 3G finished in February after 18 months.

I’ve not really had any problems with O2 so was fine to carry on with them. Need to remember to monitor my data allowance use now that its capped/charged at 500MB/month. Preferably need to find an app for that. Difficult to predict how much I’ll use as adverts all state in terms of emails sent and websites viewed but not hours streamed on Spotify.

The charge not lasting any longer but as I’m doing more with it I suppose its holding up a bit better.

It is beautiful to look at and hold but I’m sure its going to get broken. That nice glass surface makes it much more likely to just slip and crash!

And nope. Not tried FaceTime yet.

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