Waiting for websites to be upgraded? Then paint the Office green and listen to @BenAaronovitch ‘s superb Broken Homes!

Spent Sunday painting the office while fielding emails from our new hosting company’s technical support as they transferred everything to our new server. While the technical stuff isn’t complete, the office is looking fab and I got to spend several hours in the company of Ben Aaronovitch’s Broken Homes – truly superb audio book in an ever-growing series about the supernatural beings of London.

Here’s the blurb:

61o4WYbZ6XL._SL300_A unique blend of police procedural; loving detail about the greatest character of all, London; and a dash of the supernatural. A mutilated body in Crawley. Another killer on the loose. The prime suspect is one Robert Weil: An associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man? Or just a common or garden serial killer? Before PC Peter Grant can get his head round the case a town planner going under a tube train and a stolen grimoire are adding to his caseload. So far so London. But then Peter gets word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle….

One rock solid tip from the painting though: do not, I repeat do not, have the cheek to paint the boards around an active wasps nest. They do not like that. Possibly green wasn’t their colour.

#ScottishPlaywright: The Alloway Rap by Sadie Dixon-Spain is published

allowayrapcoverDelighted to announce that the first print run of Sadie’s play for voices, The Alloway Rap have arrived and are now available for sale here in a commemorative edition for Scotland’s  Year of Homecoming 2014.

This is the first in a series of Sadie’s plays that we will be publishing over the next couple of years. We’ve several on the blocks, all telling stories of communities and clans across Scotland, and all of them, like this one, will have pictures of performance, audiences and venues.

Special mention for Kilmodan Primary School who were an integral part of the play’s development.


#onlinestartup: Essential tools and skills for a successful online business startup

As I was working on my Q2 VAT return I was wondering what I would post about today – I was using excel, textedit, MySQL, phpmyadmin and cpanel to create the documents I needed to send off to our accountancy firm and thought, well, what are the essential components of a successful online business?

One of the things that immediately struck me was that aside from a wide skillset, which is the IP we work from, everything we use is either open source / free or priced at a marginal cost to the business. In other words, for anyone to set up an online business, all they need are the skills and the time, the rest is readily available if they have connectivity and a computer or even a tablet.

My second thought was that actually we do have some software which we have had to purchase, mostly the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign … ) but there are open source alternatives freely available.

I’ve listed everything below. Some of it is generic, some is specific – like the hosting solutions we use – how we knit it all together to create a market-leading business like Dunans Castle Limited, is another matter 😉

Foundation for online presence:

  • Open Source software – Linux / Apache / MySQL* / PHP*
  • Domain registrars: Bluehost.com (Top Level Domains) and 123-reg (UK domains)
  • Hosting solution: Mediatemple (US) and UnitedHosting (UK)

Maintaining online presence:

  • WordPress* including:
  • Cpanel* (maintaining the server)
  • phpmyadmin*
    • for website health
    • for customer metrics
    • for essential metadata

Communications & Marketing:

Spreadsheet / Word Processor

  • Excel for detailed cashflow analysis
  • Google spreadsheets for shared information
  • Word for compatibility
  • TextEdit or Textmate for csv, text & sql manipulation

Shared Information

  • Dropbox – for shared proprietory documents eg. .ai, .psd, .pdf, .jpg
  • Google Drive – for shared non-proprietory docs eg. simple spreadsheets and collaborative how-tos
  • Google Calendar for scheduling

Proprietory Software

  • Illustrator
  • Photoshop
  • Microsoft Office

* skills or competencies which can take several years to acquire.