I need some book recommendations

MY BOOK READING

book recommendationsI was a big book reader as a kid, then as I was growing up my book reading stopped. There was nothing I liked more than sitting down with a coffee and cupcake and reading a good old book. A few months ago I started reading again and once I started I just couldn’t stop. Now I’m in need of some book recommendations.

I was reading biographies from Duncan Bannatyne, Gordon Ramsay and Chris Moyles. As usual I couldn’t leave the stories of war alone and read Sniper One by Dan Mills, 3 Para and Eight Lives Down by Chris Hunter but now I have come to a halt.

I seem to have read all the books that have caught my eye. I’ve looked across all the genres that would intrigue me, i.e. Business, Biographies and Military. I have even ventured in to my world heading straight for the design books and two books did catch my eye, “Transcending CSS” and “Zen CSS” being the books however I don’t think they are going to keep me occupied long enough.

I’ve never been a fiction book reader, I like to focus on reality rather than some crazy ass world with pixies and fairies. Harry Potter is my sworn enemy, I’ve never watched the movies and never looked at one of the Harry Potter books.

So it has come for the time to ask for some guidance. A lot of people will have picked up what kind of thing I am after from the book reviews I have done. To be honest, at this point I am up for anything I just really want to get reading again. 🙂

Comments or emails are very welcome.

Advice on running your own gaming website

WHERE TO START WITH A GAMING WEBSITE

gaming website

I received an email earlier this week asking for some advice on how to go about being “different from the rest” of all the other gaming website that are now on the web. A lot of time has passed since nVmax was up, running and very very lively. Most of all the market has changed. When I was reviewing games, we were over the moon to receive an XBOX game, and I’m talking about the first XBOX.

We saw a niche in the market where we could expand from talking about hardware into gaming. We restricted ourselves when starting off with PC Games, nVmax afterall was a PC orientated website.

After quickly emerging as a force to be reckoned with because of our readership nVmax was able to build strong relationship with some of europe’s biggest gaming names.

However, when starting off with a gaming website there are various things that you should be looking at;

  • Don’t get random, get consistent. Readers come back looking for new things to read. This doesn’t have to be a full review, it could be purely news.
  • Add gaming news, daily. I used to write up 10 pieces of news (approximately) everyday.
  • Use web 2.0 technology to the max. (RSS Feeds, Twitter, Social Networking, digg, stumblupon, del.ici.ous)
  • Think hard about your design, gaming website can quickly expand in to something you cannot control.
  • Being biased will win a lot of readers and turn others away.
  • Get connected, I ended up talking daily with international PR teams from the worlds largest companies i.e. EA, THQ, Ubisoft, Blizzard etc

LOOK WHAT YOUR COMPETITORS ARE DOING

I talk endlessly to my clients about what their competitors are doing. You usually end up in a particular market because you know it well. Your competitors are usually where you want to be because they’ve got their ideas down to a T. If there is something that they are missing, take advantage.

Look at a full range of competitors and take their best bits, analyse where their traffic is coming from and why and use this info on your own website.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK

PR Teams in big companies are there for a reason. Do you research and find out who is there to help you and don’t be afraid to ask for some press kits or review material. Usually “back in the day” the teams asked for readership numbers before handing over any review or preview material but don’t be scared of a no. Shy people get nothing and the worst anyone can give you is a negative answer.

Another thing to think of is “think global”, if you target a specific country you are restricting your readership. Think further afield and let your users interact.

If you have plenty of readers visitng the site, let them do a review for you. They’ll more than likely jump at the chance.

10,000 BC Review

IT IS SET IN 10,000 BC

10,000 BC PosterI had been looking forward to 10,000 BC for a while. It seems to have been so long awaited after seeing the adverts in the cinema late last year. From the Director of “Independence Day” and “Day after Tomorrow” we were led to believe to expect something spectacular. Independence Day was a truly awesome movie when it was made, and Day After Tomorrow had the special effects.

It is set in 10,000 BC when Mammoths were on the earth, however there are no cavemen where you would expect them. There a tribes people leaving in purpose built huts out of Mammoth rib cages.

IT’S NOT APOCALYPTO

Evelet, an orphan arrives in D’Leh’s village after her own village is routed by a group of horseback demons. The village medicine woman sees a sign in Evelet that she and her “to be” husband will be the tribes problem solvers.

Years pass an the horseback demons come back and take many of D’Leh’s tribe, and Evelet. D’Leh follows the demons to claim back Evelet but along the way finds that many other tribes have had the safe fate.

10000

They travel to one tribe where the story is told that all of the kidnapped people have gone to become slaves for the horseback demons. D’Leh being the saviour joins the mystical tribes as one and fight against the horseback demons.

The horseback demons seems to be an early version of the Egyptians. (It’s a bit weird).

WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT

I was trying to find something good about the movie and all that I could come up with were the special effects. The Mammoths are awesome.

I would say that 10,000 BC is a DVD movie to watch rather than a cinema movie. I was getting uncomfortable within the first 30mins as I could not get in to it enough. At time I was even bored. The story line was drawn out and seemed more than factually off in a number of places.

It is very hard to write about a movie that you think is pretty darn rubbish.

I’ll not be getting the movie on DVD that’s for sure.

3 Things to Help an Online Shop

WHY ONLINE SHOPS NEED HELP

Theoretically online shops or any other business should not need help when setting up to start producing sales. The owner of an online shop should use their own initiative to find someone to do, or at least put have a marketing plan in their business plan.

Most businesses turn towards an online shop for extra sales, some online shops are setup on the “fly” or they are setup purely for expansion. It does not matter which way they have gone about setting up, they will still need marketing correctly for people to start buying.

online shopGone are the days where you could just throw something together on the web and start making money from them, online shops are now a make or break service. If you do not put your all in to what you are trying to do with the right marketing steps in place you are looking to fail.

Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance – The 6 P’s.

PLANNING AHEAD – AND THE REASONS WHY

Why do you need to pre-plan? In four words – So you don’t fail.

These days you will find multiple people or companies doing the same things, selling the same stock just at different prices. You then have to ask, what can I do different to make customers buy from me?

  • Research the current buying trend
  • Research who your customers are likely to be.
  • Find out what’s happening in the industry before anyone else.

The three things above will help you out in your pre-planning before setting up your online shop.

THE WORLD HAS GONE CUDDLY

Usability has come along way on the web since the days of the first e-commerce sites. Static blocks with no interaction and simple buy now and checkout buttons should be a thing of the past.

Amazon and Play.com are two great examples for getting it right. Their usability is incredible. They make you interact with the site which in turn gets you to look around more and on your return you buy something else. The two websites literally cuddle you and make you feel comfortable, but most of all they get you to interact.

Interaction on the web has come a long way. There are now so many ways you can interact with other people on the web, looking just at blogs and online video (Viddler and Youtube) alone, the amount of posts made on other’s content is incredible. If an online shop was to let you say something about them or in particular their products it would increase your users staying time and because they have interacted they are more likely to talk to people about it thus, virally expand your presence offline as well as on.

Interaction + lots of online cuddles = Happy users.

THE 3 THINGS

There are more ideas running through the old noggin of mine to keep me sitting here and writing all day long. These ideas are for the people who haven’t thought about marketing their own e-commerce site or in fact people who have drawn the short straw and not spoken to an SEO/SEM consultant on how to expand their online business.

Relevant Items – Having relevant items on item pages will draw users in to making an extra buy. If you know your industry well enough you should know two items which suit each other and could be bought together. Whether talking about a DVD and a book or a dress and a pair of shoes, relevant items can be brought together on a page.

Higher Tier Networking – Get other people to do your marketing for you. If you are running an exclusive high end online shop with expensive items these are usual bought by people who can afford them. Upper class individuals entertain other upper class individuals or know a lot of them. Ask them to mention your shop because of it’s great customer service or excellent pricing, the news will spread and soon you will have more higher tier customers spreading the word.

Google Product Search – Froogle was dis-continued by Google some months ago yet Google Product Search has continued (go figure). The stats are still un known to me yet I still use the product search system myself so would expect others to as well. Products are fed via XML in to the product search and a user can search in various different ways, relevance and cost being two.

FURTHER IDEAS

I have ideas running through my head almost constantly. The three things above should be obvious to anyone, yet some people need it bring to their attention of just how to start people buying on their website.

This is my first post about SEO/SEM, I will start to talk about it now and explain why I have not talked about it before.

I am going to add some contact details on to the about page shortly if anyone has any questions.

And don’t forget the 6 P’s. 🙂

The Diet Change: UPDATE

HOMEOPATH HELL INTO HEAVEN

Following on from my homeopath hell story, I went ahead and changed my diet. The first week was like hell on earth, I managed to stop the coffee addiction by just going cold turkey. I haven’t had a cup of coffee, bottle of coke or hot cup of tea in over a week a half.

Coffee CupAfter talking with some fitness instructors and other health professionals I was told that the amount of coffee and especially my caffeine intake was extremely high, and to cut it out in one fell swoop was extremely brave. Me being brave seemed like stupidity at the time as I went through a week of hell with constant migraines.

Even keeping a constant flow of water going down my head was a way of stopping the headaches. The first two days I thought I really wanted to give up right there and then to be honest, but I persevered. The next couple of days I simply carried on and fought off the impending messages from my brain telling me I was being ridiculous and that I need to get myself eating “properly” again, meaning the old diet.

SOD THE OLD DIET

So that was the first week, I felt like crap! Moving in to the second week everything changed. I dropped 4 pounds which is slowly going to five without any effort at all so I have lost a considerable amount of weight since starting by cutting out these simple things;

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Bottles of Coke
  • Chocolate
  • Bread (Now just eat soya bread when I need to)
  • Biscuits

When you think about it these things are very easy to cut out of your diet and can easily be replaced with other healthier options. There are things I have made a point of bringing in to my diet like;

  • Water (Never used to drink water)
  • Fruit, usually apples and the odd banana or orange.
  • Soya Bread , as mentioned above this replaced normal white bread.
  • Vegetables
  • Meat (Chicken, Pork, Lamb etc)

THE NEW ME

I have to say that I feel sooo much better. I wake up on a morning now and I am straight out of bed, no lying around, no falling back to sleep. I can’t even manage to lie in on a weekend. My energy levels have gone through the roof, my mood has changed and I feel all refreshed and can think straight again.

One thing that did happen was my skin got in god awful shape. I never used to get spots until I changed the diet and with the change brought hundreds of the bloody things. It is starting to calm down now and it was something I wasn’t expecting.

I also now have the energy to get back to the gym, I was way too tired before to even think about going let alone going in and lift some weights so the next few weeks will be a telling time to see what else happens.

The future is mobile!

MUCH HAS CHANGED

Wandering round in thought the other day, thinking about all of technologies we have now compared to ten years ago got me thinking about where we will be in ten years time from now.

mobile

I can remember 10 years ago playing around with my 486 66MHz PC and using my PlayStation 1 and N64 for playing games on. This seems like a lot longer than 10 years ago when you think about the technology that we have now with the likes of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The Nintendo Wii is even light years ahead of what we had back then. Who would have thought back then that we would be throwing nunchucks around the room trying to beat a family member up in the ring on Wii Sports.

A big thing that has changed for me is mobile phones, I can remember my first mobile phone. It was a crazy big BT Cellnet phone with a sim card the same size as a credit card. The phone was the size of a brick and should have had it’s own lethal weapon licence, but it sufficed for what it was made for. The first time I had ever used “texting” and being able to make calls remotely away from home.

Over the years phones came and went. Camera phones were the next big thing with all of the major manufacturers trying to put the highest mega pixel camera in to a phone. This didn’t change the usability, it was just another gimmick that would sell a phone for a higher price.

BLUETOOTH

Blue-tooth changed the normal mobile phone in to an interactive device where two or more people could swap and change information from one phone to another. Infrared was also a big change when you could start playing “snake” in Co-Op mode.

Apart from the annoyance of every idiotic little human being trying to send you dodgy photos here, there and everywhere Blue-tooth is still a great bit of technology. Blue-tooth helps me drive and talk at the same time without having to go anywhere near the phone, it also let’s me transfer files from the phone to the computer. The transferring of files is usually photo’s being uploaded to flickr.

WHERE ARE WE HEADED

facebook

Look what we have today on the Internet. We have You Tube, Twitter and flickr. Those are just three technologies which I have pulled off the top of my head that have made it on to a mobile platform. And by mobile I mean on a mobile phone or (cell phone) for our American friends. I am yet to try these out on my mobile. I am busy enough tracking them on my PC when I am near it never mind getting buzzed every few minutes to see if someone has posted a new tweet.

With phones like the Apple iphone and the Nokia N95 breaking their way through the market there is nothing stopping us from moving completely mobile with these online services. I have been trying to rack my brains as to where the next “big idea” would come from for the web, but firmly believe that at the moment technology will be firmly chasing the mobile market as I believe that is where we are headed. People are looking for mobility. A laptop is cumbersome and cannot always be guaranteed an Internet connection but a mobile phone is different.

In conclusion it will be interesting to see mobile phones being made primarily for browsing capability in the future, so we can get to the services we so eagerly want to use. (Apparently).

Any thoughts welcomed.