Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Diabetic friendly (I think) cookie/energy shots

The challenge:

This is more of an idea than a recipe. I wanted something to eat pre-workout, pe-run or cycle or just something different for a super quick breakfast. Energy gels just don't do it for me and a lot of other folks. Cake bars are just too much of a sugar hit for a diabetic and a bit too sticky/gooey in the mouth feel dept.

The proposed solution:

In the coming list, when I say 'some' I mean a bit, a handful, a dose, a measure...experiment! There is no right or wrong. Make this food HOW YOU LIKE IT!

So, what's in this stuff?

Some oats.
'Innocent' coconut, pineapple and banana juice (or whatever floats your boat)
Cinnamon - some or more...:-)
Vanilla extract - srsly, go easy here
Chopped/diced dried prunes (stone out, duh!) - plenty!
Peanut butter - crunchy!

I found the peanut butter bit is okay left out. Get the prunes in though - great flavour...some dried apricots instead/as well? Maybe even some dried figs? I'll give that a go next time.

Anyway, mix the whole lot together. Taste IT! The best mix is slightly sticky. Roll it into balls about an inch in diameter. Think small golf ball. 

Grease a baking tray and bake for ten minutes at 180 celsius or bung 'em in the fridge for as long as you least an hour.



Some times I add sesame seeds on the outside or I toast almond flakes and crutch them in the mix.  There are probably many things that would work in this snack.

Let me know if you like these and if you have any other ideas for variations.

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Monday, 7 March 2011

Web Analytics can reveal startling offline trends about you and your business

Getting Value from Referring Sites

Key insights from web analytics data help England Rugby star cater to a segment of fans

@MrsFastBloke is a Rugby fan like me (@fastbloke) but for somewhat different reasons. Last night @MrsFastBloke was browsing the interwebs 'researching' Ben Cohen - England and Sale winger. Seriously top rugger player.

Anyway, an interesting article popped up about Ben's gay following. Not surprising really - I guess you could say the guy is 'easy on the eye' without sounding like I'm announcing a lifestyle change. So, the question that piqued my interest in the interview was:

Outsports: What has been the reaction to the idea so far? Have you been surprised by the reaction?
Ben Cohen: I just noticed that I was getting more attention. My website stats were shooting up and when I looked where the links were coming from, I could see that 90% of them were from gay blog sites. The biggest surprise I got was knocking David Beckham off the top slot in the Sunday Times Gay Icon list. I was gob smacked quite frankly.

Cool! This is a great illustration of a key analytical lesson I deliver to clients - check out your top referring sites and see who your BFFs are (Best Friends For evah!). The traffic volume and quality will vary hugely but in Ben's case there was a clear 'hot' segment of referrals and kudos to Mr Cohen for responding to the demand:

...he announced plans for a night in London to honor his gay fans. The event will be held at the Dorchester on May 28.

Impressive stuff. Anyone using web analytics can get the same value from this type of insight. You might find a lucrative traffic segment that is of value through monetisation or brand awareness in Ben's case.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Could YOU start a 'Project Mayhem'?

Could YOU start a 'Project Mayhem'?

How Fight Club is a metaphor for the struggle for economic independence

The First Rule about Project Mayhem is...screw that, let's talk about Project Mayhem. It's an interesting idea!

What was Fight Club really about?

Remember Fight Club? Remember the reality questioning, neo-anarchist/surrealist (classic IMHO) from '99 by David Fincher? Thought provoking stuff for sure. This is how it makes me think...

Not like a terrorist is the first and safest thing I should say! No, it makes me think about economic independence. Think about the scene where Pitt crashes the car with Ed Norton and the two drones. It's about letting go of control. Can you stop trying to control everything and just let go? Why do this? What is the benefit and when is this a realistic option?

Fight Club (to me) is a Blue collar reaction to big business, big brands, controlling society, banks and a crumby system. The backlash manifests itself as (ultimately futile and destructive) terrorist activities. I think there is a different, more positive approach: letting go, not trying to control everything, not being controlled and aiming for economic independence.

What is Economic Independence really about?

Pitt's character, Tyler Durden, has already captured a richly ironic flavour of economic independence earlier in the movie with his notorious soap. The famous but rather disgustingly sourced lipo-suction fat based soap is hotly demanded and commands a premium price. He achieves economic independence by offering a product (and being known to offer a product) that the Market comes to him for. Typically we are economically dependent in that we have to go to the Market to deliver a loud message regarding our product or service and really try very hard to engage in commerce. We're active rather than passive in our economic destiny.

We normally have no option other than to play the most active role in 'controlling' our economic destiny. Perhaps controlling is too strong a word...steering...coaxing...hoping. Maybe those are more accurate terms? To me they certainly better reflect the plight of the economically dependent. Just that - dependent, shackled, constrained and restricted.

So, we start to see what economic independence means. We're clear that independence is preferable but what does it really mean?

To me it emphatically does not mean being able to wander into the Lamborghini showroom Knightsbridge and drive out with their latest, shiniest and loudest creation. Nope. That comes later. That privilege is a by-product of what economic independence really means. And what it really means is what Fight Club was actually about: FREEDOM! Economic independence gives you freedom of choice. Freedom to choose what to do, when and how. When you have the liberty to choose when to work and when to play, you really have thrown off the shackles of the rat race. Again, I'm not talking about not having to work again. I personally don't want that. I like what I do but I also like to choose when, how, how long and with who to work.

Freedom is a lifestyle 'enabler'.

For me, (and I'm sure we've all had the idea on a Sunday night) the ideal scenario is a longer weekend than a working week. The icing is the prospect of looking forward to the week AS MUCH AS the weekend. Right now, the weekend is oh-so-precious. The balance is not quite right.

And that is the right point to conclude this missive on. The real motivation for penning this baby manifesto is not financial, it's about lifestyle and seeking the best ROI. The need to make an investment is key and is not in doubt. Getting the maximum return from this investment hinges on the freedom of choice on how and when the return is to be spent.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

What is so cool about delivering Actionable Insights?

As a Conversion Rate Optimisation Professional (CROP?) I have to deliver Actionable Insights to my clients. This means that if I have to tell them that their website is the Internet equivalent of an Ugly Baby then I have to back up my damning appraisal of their efforts with quantifiable opportunities for optimisation.


Look, if a website sucks, it can be made to suck less. I state how to do this, what it will cost and what return the investment will yield and when. Standard good business practice, no?

So, the form goes (in my own paraphrase, this is not normal vocab!):

ME: Dude. Your site sucks...
CLIENT:(tiny hurt look, bottom lip aquiver, tear budding on corner of their eye) Oh...
ME:(Wise and sage like) But lo! All is not lost and we know why!
CLIENT:(Hope springs to their darling visage) Hussah fine sir! Pray tell and explain to us the details of your machinations.
ME:(earnest and serious) Because of A, B and C you are leaving £X on the table every month. Do Y and Z by investing £T and you'll make £X back in 6 months and then get into mega profit. (£T is some proportion of £X depending on the issue at hand)

And the cool thing here is the turnaround from hurt and hate to adoration, frantic note taking, nodding and maniacal zeal is almost instant.

The eagerness to get on and do whatever it takes to improve the site is partly driven by the realisation that in making their site better, the Internet as a whole exudes a little extra polish. It's like an insurance policy underwriting their intent to optimize: by improving their little corner of the good ol' WWW that they have the opportunity to refine the balance between the good sites and the YouTube comments. Make their bit of the web suck less and by definition everything gets just a little bit better. We can say how much better too with a fine degree of accuracy.

They get to make a better honest buck in the process.

I do too.

'Tis a fine and correct feeling.

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Monday, 4 October 2010

A sincere request to clients all over the world.

Please don't...

With all due respect - and I mean that from the heart of my bottom, pretty please, whilst I cherish your business and admire your entrepreneurial spirit, drive and abilities, I take my hat off to your tenacity and guts but for the love of all that is harder than you can appreciate, don't try to tell experts how to do their job.

I see this ludicrous phenomenon on a daily basis. Poor designers, copy writers, engineers, lawyers, accountants, analysts and even cleaners are all subject to the entrepreneur who knows best, laying down a new set of rules by which recognised experts have to proceed whilst suppressing the bile and shame rising from doing what the pay-master insists on regardless of what might be best practice or even slightly good practice let alone common sense.

What gives the owner and master of a business that they have built up from nothing using their own ballsiness, capital, wit and wherewithal the brazen right to stomp over recognised experts and their life-long, hard won experience and knowledge in preference to there own limited and ignorant whim/view/current brain fart?

Well, exactly that. The fact that they have built the bloody business - no one else. It was their cash, their idea, their spirit and spark, so by crickey they've earn't the right to run the business how they see fit, no?

Well, no.

Great minds talk about ideas. Average minds talk about events and weak minds talk about people. What sort of minds tell smarter people what to do? Shudder...

The entrepreneurs in question once had a great mind. They had an idea and they bloody well made it into something that worked. Kudos my friends. You had a moment of 'great mindedness'. Thing is, now, when you need the input of experts, when you need the smart people you surrounded yourself with (kudos again btw) to guide you onwards and upwards to a whole new level, you decide to regress to a weaker mind than the average mouth breathing TV watching pleb. Engage that great mind and talk about ideas (your ideas) with the experts. Then listen and engage with the serious minds and employ them to the best of their abilities to get the most value from them. To employ the expert and then try to do their job by stomping on the honest and best input you could hope for is near criminal. If this is done through honest ignorance the light may yet appear. To do this through 'smart commercialism' is fucking idiotic and to do this in the sincere belief that you know better is the business equivalent of running with scissors...on a tightrope..over flames....blind folded...whilst sneezing uncontrollably. I hope you fall.

Really I do. Not out of spite. Not out of envy. Remember my opening caveat - I get the businessperson and their admirable qualities: they have done something I haven't. I hope they fall but will become richer from the fall and come back stronger having learnt from the experience. That would be a good thing if it happened sooner and quicker without having to crush the poor experts in the process.

So, if you employ a decent, honest, reliable expert to do a job, bloody well listen to them and don't try to be a smart-arse. You'll be better off in the long run.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Delighted with customer service!

I took my little car in the it's first service today. Being pre-owned but still under a year old I decided it was worth hanging on to the 'full service history' aspect.

I was anticipating the usual 'main dealer' level of expense and true enough - it was more than my usual 'Mick the Mechanic' level of cost. But - and no disrespect to Mick here at all, but, the customer service was excellent. I got a nice (but very metro) Fiat 500 courtesy car to use for the day and my car was cleaned to within an inch of it's life inside and out when I picked it up. Cool.

From now on I won't bother cleaning the car....I'll just take it for a service! :-)

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Sunday, 15 August 2010

What a cracking good weekend that was!

Despite 100% gilt edged, triple grade 'arse' rated weather on Saturday, the weekend has panned out nicely.

Okay, though it may seem trifling and mundane, the main aim of Saturday was to secure a less tenuous grasp on sanity by getting caught up on important real-life matters. It is less important what they were, they are just those things that need doing and it is good that they are done if not necessarily good to do them.

Some work things are caught up on or nicely teed up for a sweet Monday morning work slam dunk. The sweetest Mondays start with that satisfying 'clunk' of a deliverable being engaged with the trustworthy movement of expertly designed engineering. Some products feel like Victorian signal box mechanisms - chunky and course grained where others feel more like mountain bike 21 speed indexed gear sets - more precise and delicate but nonetheless effective and valuable.

The big feature of the weekend was the opportunity to get out. To leave the house and be in the big wide world of my locale for a couple of hours. When I was marathon training every week, I had the chance to clear my head with 2 or 3 hours of solitary long run. This was fine. Good. Healthy. It was also very hard and quite lonely sometimes. Today, I went mountain biking with @mrsfastbloke. Having spent so much time solitary marathon training, it's a different prospect to engage in a 'do something physical and fun on the weekend' with someone. Rather than having to plan a selfishly large chunk of of the ever-limited weekend 'play time' JUST FOR ME I get to democratise leisure time which is much more palatable AND fun!

So, where are we going with this? I need to plan my fun time as I plan my work. Precisely, efficiently and with a serious goal in mind - less ad-hoc in other words.
I haven't nailed many BIG life goals for a while. I mean serious, chunky, make-a-difference-and-have-something-to-talk-about-for-years type goals.

I will be using this blog for more planning and description of my *serious* goals I want to achieve in the near future. Why? I need to make things happen.

Time to do some big things.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad