Category Archives: Web & Tech

The Internet revolution & future of humanity

It’s frustrating that having an intellectual opinion on war puts you in the metaphoric gunfire of the public sheep majority who still unwittingly support these so called hero’s.

Here we are in a world where resources are unlimited yet there is poverty and deprivation caused by a society based around money. Money; a concept if lead back to its source is a fictional entity which can be invented as and when the ‘economy’ requires it. Where trillions can be funded to get banks out of debt but the people in society still have to live with their own debt (promoted by the same banks). At the same time we have to raise money for the starving by dropping a coin from our own pocket into a charity box! Yet this is fine.. because everyone goes about their daily business surrounded by distractions, because this is life, it’s just the way it is.

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But the internet has the power to change this deluded bubble we are stuck in. Slowly yet surely, and it has already begun. Knowledge and open communication is finally in the hands of us, the people. Exposing the corrupt governments, incorrect history lessons and giving everyone their own voice.

It won’t be a quick fix revolution, as those at the top have probably already predicted this forthcoming, it will be messy but eventually truth will prevail. After the mess and false promises from the goverments attempt at providing their own form of retribution, eventually good people will combine to create a better world. Eventually.

Currently our army’s are well funded but consist of the bottom 10% of our high school classes, the products of a lack of affection and education. The new world army will be ran by volunteers for an army of good, to rebuild.

EVERYONE is born with their own interest and skill sets, there are those that hate maths but love art and then those that are complete opposites, there is a person for everything, some love cleaning, some love healing others, some love farming… everything! So everyone can get to do what they enjoy and find their job role in the new world.

At this point society will be much like that discussed in the Venus project (http://youtu.be/KphWsnhZ4Ag) and I believe with the addition of different social sectors who have their own interests and rules, all of which can be left to their own devices as long as it is not detrimental to another social sector.

It sounds so simple, so simple it could easily be mistaken for being stupid or even impossible. But when you dig deep into the truth, the real truth behind the world then this is possible, even today and has been since the beginning of time. All we need now is our mindsets and the zeitgeist to alter accordingly. But this does take time. Ghandi said ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ and I wish I could, but in this case it requires global compliance and a shift in world wide mentality. So until then I will have to go about life as normal, working to buy produce and to give to charity.

One day the world will look back at us as we do upon those in the dark ages. Our revolution will be thanks to the internet. We are here amidst the start of the new beginning, we are it’s catalysts.

Gopro Hero3 Dog Mount Harness

After looking everywhere for a decent dog mount harness.. I failed to find one! So decided to make one myself. It may not look amazing but it’s stable and a lot comfier, more practical and gets better shots than the few I did find for sale when scouring the web.

You will need

– the original plastic base plate that your hero was fitted to the top of it’s box with
– 1 dog harness
– 1 old plastic buckle collar
– 1 or 2 sponges
– a dog coat
– super glue
– a gopro and a dog

What to do

1) Cut slots big enough for your old collar to fit through in either side of the plastic base plate

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2) Cut the collar in half and fix to either side of the base plate by looping through and using super glue

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Remove the original plastic buckle clips from the harness and loop through the other end of the collars (now fixed to either side of your base plate) to the harness. So one side can clip on and off using the collars buckle clip

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– Use strong tape to secure the base plate to the sponge (or 2 if needed) for stability and comfort

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Then your done! Put the new harness on first then use a coat with a slit in the back to go over the top and make sure that everything is secured in place.

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Now you get a camera view just behind your dogs head to show everything they are looking at with a much better view than the hanging collar cameras that show the floor most of the time!

The result..

Web Design Staffordshire

As some of you may know I am Managing Director of inLIFE Design, providing Web Design and Digital Marketing Solutions from our Staffordshire based office in Burntwood.

inLIFE Design was founded in 2009 by myself, previously I worked as in house web designer for a number of firms including Phones 4 u, Staffordshire University and VIBE audio. I loved my job at VIBE which involved creating the website from the ground up, including a facebook page which when we created it had 1 like and now has over 10,000. They were a great team of people and we got to visit all the car shows throughout the year and also have great works night out with the guys from MaxPower (now not existant) and FastCat magazine. Although as much as I enjoyed the job, it was always my long term ambition to form a Digital Marketing Agency that could provide the knowledge and skills of an in house as web designer to businesses at an affordable price. After leaving full time at VIBE we now still continue to design and develop for VIBE audio’s web presence today through inLIFE Design.

inLIFE Design first started off in a small attic office hired from a friend who had a shop front IT firm called TechCare. We soon expanded taking on a larger office downstairs and then when TechCare moved to larger premises we took on the building. This not only gave us more space for expansion but also gave us something no other web design or digital marketing agency in Staffordshire has.. a shop front!

We didn’t really need a shop front presence  being business to business based and originally took it on for the space and as a great advertising location. As the inLIFE web design office is based at Swan Island in Burntwood, Staffordshire,  a popular driving route from Lichfield to Cannock. We then found however that a number of local business were coming in through the door for web design and marketing solutions.

We hear from customers often that they can’t get hold of their web guy or that they have no idea where their website is hosted… the list goes on and on. The one thing we now find a web design shop front office gives inLIFE is a trust worthy and reliable presence, something distinctly lacking in web design companies in Staffordshire. Customers are confident they can come in and talk to us for good honest advise whenever they need it. If and when we move to larger premis in the future I am determined to keep this premiss, making our office an open and accessible place where customers can always visit.

From the start of the business I was joined by Chris Smith as full time web design & developer. At the time Chris had just come out of college struggling to find a job but is now a key part of the business and the plans I have for it’s future. We also have 2 part time additional employees and taking on another intern shortly.

So if you are looking for web design in staffordshire take a look at our website, give us a call or just pop in the office for a chat! We are always happy to help local business even if it’s just free advise as to the next best step to take with your online marketing. We also provide a free website review and SEO audit if you already have a website that you think isn’t performing as well as it should be. If your serious about your business and a quality online presence then we would love to hear from you

Staffordshire is by no means our limit thought, we have provided web design and marketing solutions for companies all over the UK and abroad from Scotland, Manchester and London to as far afield as the Algarve, Canada and California. We have worked on projects for councils, schools, channel 4 TV shows an blue chip companies, as well as local florists and air dressers. We provide the same level of quality and affordable services whether our client be big or small.

We’d love to have a chat with you today about what the web can do for your business. www.inlifedesign.co.uk

The first web Revolution

They say when your in the middle of an event, you don’t realise what a key part it will play in the future. I’m guessing when my Grandad was in the Navy in world war II they bared no thought about how in years to come kids would be learning about it in history.

Although not on the same scale as world war II, but just as world changing, I believe we are in the middle of one of these times. The internet has had its first technological revolution, with facebook twitter and youtube playing an integral part in freeing Egypt from the corrupt reign of Mubarak. I remember speaking to a taxi driver in Egypt only a few months before everything kicked off, he was telling me all about the countries corruption and how he did not know what would be happening in the next election. Little did I think then that the very entity I work on, spend every day on, and pays my wages.. the internet, would be the very thing to help free them a few months later.

From my previous blogs such as ‘rise of the honest open internet‘ it’s clear I have high hopes for the way the net will change humanity, and its still young. Yet I feel we are slap bang in the middle of the of the first step to change .

Following the events in Egypt one couple even named their daughter ‘Facebook’. Now Libya have risen up with the same power of the people through the use of the internet, currently in the midst of a similar protest against their corrupt leader Gaddafi.

Gaddaffi has even made his own poor attempt at convincing the public by faking films of supporters cheering for him and claiming those against him have been forced drugs and alcohol. Through TV media this may have worked but with the power of social media and a public voice this is has just made him look even more stupid.

This is a great time to be in, and I have a feeling the Internet still has a few tricks up it’s sleeve for the future of the human race.

History of the UK’s first Modified Car club.. and me

Before Facebook. Before Youtube. Before any other online modified car club. There was Streetrace.co.uk

11 years ago I was playing around with web development for just a bit of fun.. (now a full time job) something for us to show the world what we were doing to our cars and the laugh we were having along the way.

Back in 1999 the internet was only a luxury for less than half the UK population, we were using dial up modems to access it on Pentium computers with 32gig of memory. My phone was a Phillips Savvy.. a tiny screen with polyphonic ringtones and a sticky out areal, and if you turned the phone off when sending a text or directly after a call you could get free credit! Technology was being born.

Websites were all pixelated, framed table based static nasty looking sites, most of which hosted free on sites like geocities. When submitting a URL to yahoo you had to choose what category your site fell in and they had a manual team of people who would approve the URL.

I made a random website called chinknet after my nickname..  this then was later changed into bluefiesta.com named after my first car, a blue fiesta that I worked the entire 6 weeks of my college holidays just to buy a front bumper for (still used by mc rally in their advertising for the bumper today)

In 2001 bluefiesta.com was hosting images of me and a local bunch of mates messing around in our cars, images from car shows we were going to as well as just general info about how we were modifying them. The site had a guestbook that was quickly getting filled up, with more and more taking to this new ‘internet’ it was one of the only places for local cruising information around.

The site was then expanded through my then partner in web crime ‘Wez’ who started the site blackescort.com about his car the black escort (I think the site now has another meaning) we linked the 2 sites and were getting a large number of hits locally from people just checking out what we were doing, and looking for images of their cars from cruises.

We then got planning to expand the sites into a single entity for all modified car enthusiasts, cruisers and modifiers alike to come to one place. We sat down to work out the areas of the site such as general chat, performance, ice, newbie’s (a structure which was then copied by car clubs that came after us.. and then by those that came after them.. and is still apparent across a large number of forums today)

As part of my University course I then transformed the website into Streetrace.co.uk. A brand name chosen not to be about racing on the streets, more just as a brand name (back then cruise-myarea.co.uk wasn’t even thought of yet) . To start with we used a free Yabb forum software which was buggy, as forum software was a relatively new thing still. We input the structure we had planned into the forum and it grew to over 300 members within months (back then before facebook and smartphones.. this was a lot!) We then decided to sell sponsorship advertising on the site and used the money along with our own to buy a better less buggy forum software, the best available. The site was re-skinned and custom developed to form the base of Streetrace.co.uk as it is known today.

After that in 2003 facebook and myspace came into development, but were still not even heard of! So Streetrace.co.uk was the only place for the UK to come and read about everything car modified related, including show images from all the old shows like Weston wheels, modifying guides, games and more. The only other forums out at the time were all cruise based ones, and a number of which we became friendly with including the then 2 biggest Midlands Cruise sites Kroozmidz and cruisemidlands. More and more cruise based forums were popping up using free or cheap forum software. But non had the whole package like Streetrace including full show coverage, membership, cruises, meets and more. Non yet.

By late 2003 Maxpower had made us their best car club and we were invited to Max Live and their after party hosting the likes of Jordan and ‘Jamie Shaw’ (before he was made z-list famous by UK Pimp my Ride).

A couple of years on the site was ever expanding with new galleries, online garage, membership packs with keyrings, attending all shows. At this time more clubs similar to Streetrace were popping up, and amongst all this we were getting a large number of offers from people who wanted to become admin or owners! Some of which we turned down who then went on to create other well known car clubs today , and  then some even seen us as rivals (although it’s nice to know we inspired). As sole owner of the club I then decided to sit down and select 4 main admin who were best for the job, then sold shares so were we then all part owner of the club. This is a tradition that has continued until today with shares changing hands but never any more than 5 owners allowed. Leading up to todays current owners Tony, Wez, Stu and myself (although not now managed and ran by us)

We carried on hitting all the biggest and best car shows including hot import nights London with Tim westwood in 2005, we had countless magazine features, press coverage,  parties & even a music single.  We Teamed up with DJ Cutloose who became our music icon at shows.. again the first club to even have its own DJ! Along the way we unknowingly influenced a large number of other modified car clubs that sprang up with the same idea.. some spawning directly from members of Streetrace.. and even some spawning from those! Plus others popping up all around the UK in general. We went from being the only generic modified car club being at shows in 2002 (amongst vw clubs, mondeo clubs, seat clubs etc) to being one of thousands of generic modified car clubs and cruise sites by 2006.

Being the first however we were then the biggest, hitting a peak at USC Show 2007 & USC show 2008 in which we were given a concrete pitch, took the truck dance stage and DJ’s and told by the organised of we got any bigger we would need to pay for a trade area as we had more attention than the dance stage!

Not only was this a peak for Streetrace.co.uk, it was a peak for the Modified car Scene in general. After this the shows started to die down with less attendance. We celebrated our ten year anniversary in style hiring out a bar on broad street Birmingham with all staff arriving in a pimped out fire engine and attendance from max power and Fastcar.. the very people who were inviting us to their parties when it all began.

Over the time we also did a number of large scale evens like running yearly nurburgring trips, a meet at the ace cafe, as well as being the first club to team up with police in promoting safer driving by taking racing to the track instead of on the roads. As well as raising money for road safety charities in a joint effort with police that even made the papers. On top of a personal thank you from Inspector Matt Derrick “It has been a pleasure to work with you and thank you for your efforts in bringing the Police and Car Cruising fraternity closer together. I am confident that in years to come there are many people who will benefit greatly from our and particularly your work and effort in the relationship and hopefully many people who otherwise might not have been with us will never realise that you saved their lives. Strong stuff I know but those are the kind of consequences we are dealing with.”

A year on the modified car scene was still in a reluctant decline, the police started an all out campaign against modifiers. With a few idiots doing burnouts etc thus tarring the rest of us with the same brush…  as the scene grew the car enthusiast quickly became a public enemy. Also with the increase in clubs the magazines were continuously being brown nosed by certain clubs as this was the only way they could get noticed, to their own destruction. The rise of the internet set to be killing print media also brought down car magazines sales. Back in 1999 only available to a few the internet seamlessly overnight became part of everyday life accessible by the majority of the UK population with the increase in smart phones and home computing. Back then to see images of a show or cruise you had to buy the magazine (or look on streetrace.co.uk of course) now the images are on facebook and most forums before even getting home.

In Mid 2010 Streetrace.co.uk was awarded the most honorary of Max Powers awards.. ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Scene’. Shortly after this I personally left the scene due to my time being taken up by business, family and something a bit more global. With admin being passed hands to a great bunch of guys (previously Staff on there) who now continue to ruin the site as strong as ever.

Then in late 2010 due to a number of the aforementioned factors and ever decreasing sales MaxPower Magazine was unfortunately dropped by its publisher. The very magazine that influenced us in starting up back in the day. All a fitting end within months of Streetrace receiving its award and me leaving the scene.

The Club continues today now ran by an enthusiastic bunch of individuals with as much love for the scene as we all had back in 1999. The Club also continues to grow and outlive a number of other clubs that still come and go within the lifespan of Streetrace.

Project IRIS (Smart Home) – First stages

Im currently working on a bit of a sideline project I have dubbed as IRIS (inLIFE Reactional Inhabitant System).

IRIS is a Smart Home system built into my house that responds to voice commands, remote commands and other built in macros that can control everything from boiling the kettle at a certain time to dimming the lights to 50% and more. Similar to the smart home ‘SARAH‘ from the popular fiction TV show Eureka.

IRIS will be eventually hidden behind the scenes and pick up voice commands from anywhere in the house, as well as accessibale remotley via the iPAD, iPhone and iPod as remotes also. She can also be accessed via voice command using the iPhone as a wireless remote from the garden.

The video below is a quick guide to the development stages of IRIS so far and beta testing. IRIS is built with a compilation of a number of things including X10 Home Automation Kit, BVC Software, ActiveHomePro Software Dev Kit and Weather aloud. Future enhancements will include the use of Bluetooth detection and recognition.

I will post more video updates as IRIS development progresses. Here is the first sample..

Web-wizardry from the master.. apparently

An image of my shiny bald head graced the first inside page of the local newspaper this week in the ‘Burntwood Post’ regarding the launch of WS7.co.uk. The website is a sideline project I have been working on in an aim to help get local business within my town online.

“An Innovative new scheme to get the entire Burntwood business and community noticed online has been set up by local entrepeneur David Whitehouse’

On top of designing and developing websites for a number of companies big and small I do a few sideline websites for local businesses. Although when it comes to smaller or new businesses a lot have no target on the web and simply just want to ‘be online’

An online presence is important more now than ever with more and more taking to google over the yellow pages, and if local companies don’t catch up they are going to fall behind. Yet at the same time getting a website can be confusing and often too expensive when all some companies want is a place on google.

This is where the idea for ws7.co.uk was born. With an essence of ‘charity starts at home’ the scheme is only available for local business in and around the Burntwood area (ws7 postcode) allowing not only business but the community to start their own website for free, no charge, easy log in and edit area with submission to search engines and your own domain name eg. yourname.ws7.co.uk.

The website stores an online business directory as well as local news, events and more. Funded through advertising WS7.co.uk allows users to get a website up and running in seconds, as well as advanced options to ‘go pro’ and get more themes and web space.

The local paper loved the idea and did a quick telephone / email interview to run the story.. ‘Free Web-Wizardry from the master’ all i need now is a wizards beard!

The internets gone mad with legalities, which way is it going to go?

With google recently being accused of criminal intent, Facebook facing slander over privacy, the fcc getting involved with net goings on and not forgetting the recent wars between adobe, apple, google and patent wars too.. it seems the whole nets gone legal mad.

We never had this 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. But now the late net boom has hit and the general public is flooding our internet geek haven.. I think we need to ask ourself is it coincidence that all this is happening now, now every man and his dog is on the net via mobile or home, when the geeks ruled alone we all went along happily. We never used to care about Facebook privacy before our aunt mildred and girlfriends nan were watching our every move.

And now the ‘regular’ human race populate the web more and more, the more it becomes like the wrecked world we live in where a burglar can sue a civilian for breaking his leg whilst robbing your home, where people moan about privacy and ‘being offended’ blah blah blah.

If a man put an offensive photo of obamas wife in a public high street… would you blame the High street?, whereas when someone put it on google and it got into their image search… google got blamed.

This is either going to go one of 2 ways.. the net will become more and more bogged down by laws and regular peoples shite and we will be dragged down with them. Or we will will drag the regular population up to our open standards (let’s hope) we’ve already had the ‘twitter effect’ on the uk election, googles effect on the great firewall of china.. so let’s hope it’s the latter!

The blind marketing to the blind!

So I get home from work yesterday, kick off my cowboy boots and find a letter on my doormat. I pick it up and walk to the bin! ‘more junk mail’

Most cool cats would have dropped it in the bin, made themselves cup of dandelion and burdock and sat down to tuck into some monster munch! But being in web marketing… on the way to the bin I take a second to ask myself why is this letters fate already sealed before I’ve even opened it? And what did its creators do wrong?

It’s a simple thing and daft thing I know.. to the everyday person just getting some junk mail and throwing it is hardly worthy of a blog post! But from the point of view of the publisher that letter being opened was of the utmost importance!

Think about it.

They have had hired a marketing team to design and work on it, planned its copy articulately, lined and measures the text so what they think is ‘key information’ is showing through the expensive printed high quality gloss double windowed envelope! Not only this but also paid for the distribution and data capture of addresses to send it out in the first place! In summary they have spent a lot of effort making sure this letter gets read.

Clearly a LOT of planning, time and money has gone into getting this message across, yet as I drop it into the bin.. they have failed. Obvious to us, but to them.. why would it fail? after all that effort?

So lets look at the letter from my point of view looking up at me from the doormat.

Within a fraction of a second my eyes have taken in the content and processed it to my brain with result ‘ok.. red and blue bright colours, two large money figures, it doesn’t have MY name on it anywhere nor even in fact what company its from, bold red line across the bottom with ‘see inside for good news’ – yes well that’s descriptive? im thinking spam, readers digest, useless tat’ Result = in the bin it goes.

The simple reason and most important of all.. it looks like spam! It looks like every other failed marketeers attempt of making a flyer or letter that ‘stands out’ and what we have come to expect of it over the years of getting this crap! Just like when browsing the web it has been proven most peoples eyes now automatically avoid advertising banners (unless of course they’ve got boobs on them.. and this isn’t a joke, its fact)

That all took a fraction of a second. = Bin. I asked the Mrs the same question when she got home with what she would of done with it.. same answer. I showed the photo to other people too.. same answer ‘junk mail’

So lets look at it from the designer and publishers point of view. Same letter?

Firstly the boss comes up with a great idea and hires the marketing team who assures him they have done this many times before and got good results. The marketing team sit round and after numerous brain storms and meetings they decide the best thing to do would be to show their ‘great’ prices openly and honestly in bold on the front of the letter! Great! They then plan out its content (of which i didn’t even read) in the same way planning out the best information to get across and the most direct way of doing it. Which I guarantee has been aimed around ensuring it all leads the consumer in the direction of making that final contact, phone call or viewing their website.

Now the exterior.. bright bold colours stand out.. will make people pick it up and get attention, so red and blue is good, how about with high quality envelope glossy with bold red printed line across the bottom.. and we will even pay extra to get the windows where we want on the envelope so you can see the big bold prices through those windows. A now a nice strap line to finish it off.. something that would make you want to open it.. hmmmm what would make me want to open it.. how about ‘See inside for good news’ (lol!) brilliant all done! hey drop it on the bosses desk and he loves it.. great it stands out, bold & colourful and gets the prices across straight away through those expensive, but worth it double windows! They pay for data capture, postage and off it goes.. to millions of peoples bins! Well done!

Resulting in probably about a 10% conversion rate, that WILL cover the cost of the letter and make profit.. but badly done, and not doing a very good job for the company nor the remainder 90% of the population getting sh*t they don’t want.

SO where did they go wrong.. somewhere in between their entire weeks of planning, and my fraction of a second junk mail decision.. there is something important missing.

A single quote from Einstein has the answer “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

Sitting there in that room they planned what they ‘thought’ people wanted, they planned around what stands out to their eyes, from their position within the company, and what looks bright and bold to them. Without for a second taking a step outside of their body and mind into a 3rd person perspective and imagining that letter on a doormat. They tried to hard..

So you get the point.. they needed to target people better, change the old ‘spam design’, include the company name, and MY name.. plus a hell of a lot of other ‘current’ marketing ploys that are simple, work and effective. But to find out the rest of them you’ll have to hire me (cheap plug lol)

The be all and end all.. don’t come to the same final production of a message that looks like every other piece of spam out there, just because that’s the way its always been done.