ProjectE Update

Get excited and make things

Photo courtesy of Nitevision

The more people I discuss this with, not only the more positive responses I get back, which is frankly great news, dropping 3/5ths of ones normal salary is a scary thought, but it gets deeper and deeper almost daily.

Focus

For the past two weeks I’ve been able really focus in on what is needed and to put the key tools in place so that the entire project can become scalable.

This has included, the re-working of a bought WordPress theme, the implementation of customfields groups and a clear layout path for the different content types. Up until now I have avoided outsourcing the major parts, however I’ll be drawing the line soon, focusing purely on the content and any additional tasks, subbing out to third parties. While I’m comfortable in most areas, design, PHP, CSS and HTML, these tasks are not the best use of my time and frankly, as much as I enjoy them, they’re better off elsewhere.

Video content

I’ve really got to grips now with video creation and the latest guide has multiple call outs, four content blocks and audio inserts. I didn’t realise how powerful the video format was until I really got stuck in and again the feedback has been fantastic.

There is still a lot to learn and the more I get through the easier they have become, I’m over 10 separate video tutorials in so far and I have two planned for today. The combination of both written content and visual content is going to be key to the project.

Self doubt

This is a huge one for me currently, its the 50/50 scenario, between knowing that I really do know my arena exceptionally well, to thinking its all going to fail and I’ll end up looking like a complete plank.

Having doubts is keeping me on my toes, I’ve got a list of 40 or so articles to produce over the next two weeks and most of these are far from simple and getting progressively deeper and deeper.

Ground work

What I’m finding is that I cannot cover the more advanced topics I’d like to without ensuring that the participants are up to a level to be able to take in fully those topics and going back to the basics. out of the 40 or so articles, probably 38 of them are just the basics and that’s only a small number compared to what I have estimated for the much larger sub projects I have planned.

No previews yet though!

I’ve kept the group of people I have been using to bounce this project off, completely out of the group of peers you may have thought I should be keeping in-the-loop. While this will come later, for now, you’re not the focus of the project (you guys know too much) and I do apologise for not keeping you in the loop, your time will come soon!

The deadline

I’m setting myself an ambitious deadline today of two weeks, 21st July.

This allows me around 10 or so working days to cover as much ground as possible. This is a bit scary when you consider that neither of the co-writers have actually produced any content yet, although I’m really happy to report a fourth is on board.

Your help

Now I did say I didn’t want your input just yet, however one section of ProjectE is a solutions directory. I’ve already received several overviews from different providers and are working on editorial reviews to accompany them with the providers.

“Broadly speaking”, if you are a solutions provider of any form in the eCommerce arena, contact me at matthew.ogborne AT lastdropofink.co.uk

ProjectE – Stark Reality of What I’ve Done

Its Monday and in only two days time, ProjectE kicks off.

The reality of what I have done is starting to kick-in. I’ve essentially, cut my normal income to 2/5th’s and launched into a complete unknown. There has been no proof-of-concept, just the belief that its a brilliant idea and can only happen if it has the time dedicated to it.

Its an idea I’ve had for over 5 years, the depth of its potential to help sooo many people is huge and frankly “I’m bricking it”. Its going to put myself (and the team) at the blunt end of eCommerce and there will be quiet heafty onus to get this right. I’m sure that everything will be OK. The topics, I’m 99.9% sure upon, its after-all, what I’ve been up to for the past 9 years, but even still, it makes you doubt your own abilities.

Its not really sunk in yet, those who were following the tweets on Friday for its codename ‘#ProjectE‘, would have seen some teasers being tweeted out and the beginnings of what is going to be a rather public journey.

The steps have been taken, I’m out of my comfort-zone.

I sincerely hope I look back at this post and laugh, while I remember that the difference between an employee and a entrepreneur is, only one small thing, action.

Photo by danielbroche

Project E is Coming!

“Project E” took several step forwards this week, there is some huge personal commitment now included and its the reason why I’ve had few updates here.

I’m so excited about it, but are keeping it under wraps for another week or so. Its never been done properly and never using the latest mediums, the breadth is huge and we’re (that’s a hint there is more than one of us) all pretty choked.

So on that note. Happy Friday.

Converting GMT to PST & PDT Timezones

This is more for my reference than a true article, as I needed a way of easily working out when US based events happen, such as webinars and meetings.

This table converts GMT to both PDT and PST:

GMTPSTPDT
01:001.00am17:005.00pm18:006.00pm
02:002.00am18:006.00pm19:007.00pm
03:003.00am19:007.00pm20:008.00pm
04:004.00am20:008.00pm21:009.00pm
05:005.00am21:009.00pm22:0010.00pm
06:006.00am22:0010.00pm23:0011.00pm
07:007.00am23:0011.00pm00:00Midnight
08:008.00am00:00Midnight01:001.00am
09:009.00am01:001.00am02:002.00am
10:0010.00am02:002.00am03:003.00am
11:0011.00am03:003.00am04:004.00am
12:00Noon04:004.00am05:005.00am
13:001.00pm05:005.00am06:006.00am
14:002.00pm06:006.00am07:007.00am
15:003.00pm07:007.00am08:008.00am
16:004.00pm08:008.00am09:009.00am
17:005.00pm09:009.00am10:0010.00am
18:006.00pm10:0010.00am11:0011.00am
19:007.00pm11:0011.00am12:00Noon
20:008.00pm12:00Noon13:001.00pm
21:009.00pm13:001.00pm14:002.00pm
22:0010.00pm14:002.00pm15:003.00pm
23:0011.00pm15:003.00pm16:004.00pm
00:00Midnight16:004.00pm17:005.00pm

Facebook Like Button = 84Kb or 1.340 Seconds?

First off, I’ll openly admit I’m pretty anally-retentive when it comes to page load times and tweaking WordPress to get the most out of it. So the following, who just want a ‘button’, have your button. For me, 84Kb is crazy.

I’ve since delved into the this topic of the social buttons and you’ll find the deeper analysis of The True Cost of Adding Social Buttons insightful, as a very common one is over 120kb! You can read the full article here.

EIGHTY FOUR KILOBYTES

Yes, thats right, to include the Facebook like button on the right of the site, its downloading 83.4Kb of data just to show this single button. To me that’s just crazy-ness!

Facebook Download Data

From the sheet above you’ll see the breakdown of assets that are being pulled from facebook domains. The first object is the FB icon and can be ignored and is not included in the sums.

The red sum of 1340, is in milliseconds, or in English, 1.34 seconds. So already you must be think, holy mother of god, an extra 1.34 seconds to load this little button? But then we realise why, by summing the actual weight of these objects, we take a whopping 83.4 KB (kilobytes or one thousands of a megabyte) hit and this explains why it takes so long.

I’ll save the full explanation of why I’m doing in this spreadsheet and how I get the data for a later article, for now I have more pressing articles & videos that need to be churned.

Good Bye Button!

Yep, after that, the button is off, I’ll swap it with a png or gif image that links directly to the facebook page (which is here by the way).

Or Maybe…

I’m just feeling guilty for including 32Kb for the JQuery file to make the scrolling banner on the homepage and are looking for stuff to trim to warrant its inclusion, lol!

My Goal

Currently this site runs on about 75 item requests for the homepage, my target for the next few days is to get this to 50. This should take a cool 50 extra requests off the site (as one request to the server and one to send it back again) and I have the mental goal of getting in under the 4second mark consistently.

Why Am I So Crazy for Shaving KB and Milliseconds?

The facts speak for themselves, here is a quote from Peer1.com (full article here)

According to the findings of the surveys conducted by Lightner, Bose and Salvendy (1996) and the GVU (Graphic, Visualization and Usability) Centre at Georgia Institute of Technology (GVU, 1998), long download times have always been a major problem experienced by Web users. The survey by Pitkow and Kehoe (1996) also indicates that the most widely cited problem with using the world wide web was that it took too long to download web pages (i.e. 69% of respondents cited this problem).
For e-commerce sites, web loading times are even more crucial than other sites. It has been found that a delay of microseconds can potentially cause a significant loss of revenue. Tests at Amazon revealed similar results: every 100 ms increase in load time of Amazon.com decreased sales by 1% (Kohavi and Longbotham 2007). Google discovered that a change in a 10-result page loading in 0.4 seconds to a 30-result page loading in 0.9 seconds decreased traffic and ad revenues by 20% (Linden 2006).

Then take a watch of this interview “Why CIOs need to care about web speed” which I tweeted this morning.

Final Thoughts

Speed Limit InfinityHow can I even dare suggest to a client that they need to clear and optimise their website up if mine is not up to scratch?

Dropping 84Kb and a whopping 1.34 seconds to page load time is a massive score in any ones book. Yes, as with everything its a fine balance between functionality, usability, novelty and speed, but sometimes, I drawing the line is needed and I’m drawing it here!

Question Everything

Question Everything

Question Everything

Who said that there is only one way of doing things?

This has been my wallpaper for several months now, (you can download the full version here). As soon as the computer boots up, I’m presented with this and when the machine shuts down, I’m presented with it again.

As I start and as I finish, but then I’m sure I never really finish as, like you I’m guessing, you’re still processing the events. tasks and thoughts of the day long after you turn the black box off.

There was some “dude” called Einstein, whom I quote:

Definition of ‘Insanity’: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I think he might have been on to something. Today’s outcome was XYZ, what if I we did something slightly different and made ZYX, is it better?

Programmers understand that while ZYX might not have been the logical result that they had planned for, ZYX is actually a result, just not the one that was expected. Thus can be worked on, to obtain the desired result. Knowing and then accepting, really is king, at least you can chose to be ignorant that way.

Differentiation

I’ve got about 30 daft articles in the in pipeline currently, but “Project E” is taking up the majority of my spare time (along with this stunning weather we’re having in the UK). I was aiming for a tweet sized mission statement, but have narrowed it down to less than half of this.

“Project E” is not a new idea by any means, its just never been done ‘properly’ before, not even by the people involved and those who wrote the basis of the majority of “Project E” materials.

I believe I need to start talking to more people about this, may be here in a few days time, its scale is immense and its boundaries are specifically limited for now. Once the end goal is defined and the path to it sketched out, its going to be action, action action.

And finally will allow the differentiation between what I have been lacking in focus here and targeting “Project E” specifically and allowing this site to follow its new path.

Sorry, all a bit deep for a Weds back after a double bank holiday weekend, it’ll make sense this time next week :)

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Matthew Ogborne

Here are 10 things you probably did not know about myself, until now that is…

#1 Unbelievably tames his ego

This is quite bemusing, especially when you consider “Is never afraid to admit he’s wrong” is in this list. I managed to tame myself down to meet the requirements of each of my previous roles, even working for myself, I needed to adjust.

When I first started this blog in October last year, my ego went berserk. Its only now I am realising through reading and new experiences that there times when it needs to be guided and times when it needs to be muted.

I’ve just finished reading the book called “The Trusted Advisor“, a very interesting read and amongst the several key points taken from the book (yes I do note these things down), that being able to mould ones persona to each client is critically important and that personal “commitment” is nothing to be scared of, in fact its needed.

#2 D in English Language

This is no surprise to anyone who has the earlier posts between October and December 2010 on this site. My writing needed those few months to pick up its structure again and for me to find a writing style that I could maintain.

I managed to earn a GCSE D in English Lanuage after private coaching and amazingly achieved a C in English Literature, this was down to the efforts of my parents, my tutor (which I hasten to add was unheard of at my secondary school, I think my parents panicked) and a deeper understanding an appreciation of the course material, which was Macbeth and a vastly more interesting use of the English language that thy sport here.

#3 Is harbouring a 14,000 feedback eBay account

Yup, the account is still there, waiting to be abused. But for now, “Project E” is more important.

#4 Held the first eBay PowerSeller meeting in his local pub

Technically not the UK’s first, there were a few eBay PowerSeller meet ups before, however this was the first attended by a eBay representative (a cool chap called Jamie Parkins) and paved the way for the eBay Universities that followed.

#5 Is scared of failure

I’m shit scared of it. One crucial difference for me now, is that I always have a plan to exit, even if I have no intention of using it.

#6 Believes that “knowing is everything”

This has become a fundamental to the way I approach tasks. Knowing that something is right, wrong or close, just measured is everything.

If you know that something is out, then you have the luxury of making two decisions, the first is to electively ignore it (yes this IS an option) and the second is that in knowing that its “out” to make changes to realign it. Only then can you know if you are going forwards or backwards and knowing you’re going backwards is a result, just not the desired result.

#7 Is never afraid to admit he’s wrong

OMG (Oh My God) do I make some screw ups. There are some monumental screw ups on this site and I’m the first to rip into myself for them and I choose wear them as a badge (or war-wound).

#8 Is learning when to “shut up”

I know this will make several people laugh whom have known me for sometime. What I think sometimes really does not matter, its in the conversation between two or more parties that underlying issues, problems and challenges are found. The same goes for a couple of the articles I’ve posted. Two ears, one mouth and all that :)

#9 Is a self confessed “online gamer”

Whom would have thought that running around shooting people would have fostered such a large gaming community for UKManDown and that the people I play with “online” fall into the closest-of-friends categories?

I am in ore at the way the community has ground and evolved over time, its been over four years now and I’m so happy to boast that directly because of the community I started so long ago, in honour of Alex (that’s a hidden 11th), that we now have a pregnancy in the ranks.

#10 Is just human, like you

In my favouite article to date “Be a Player not a Bystander. Get in. Get Mucky“, the meaning of an so-called ‘Expert” was broken down. Its also the only article I’ve used the F word in so far and again, I do swear quite a bit and make few apologies.

So…

Matthew Ogborne

Thats me!

That’s 10 or so things you probably didn’t know about myself and what I’ve been up to.

In some ways I wonder if I should keep this blog purely professional, however sometimes, it feels right to give it that real ‘human’ touch and provide some intimacy. That’s why I’ve stuck a ‘phat’ image on myself to the right, lets keep this one personal :)

PS: I’ve hinted at a new project called “Project E”. I’m still working on what this should look like when its finished and then I have to work it backwards. Its going to ‘shake the ground extremely wide’ and it almost feels like the final goal that I have been working towards for the past few years. I’m looking forward to sharing this with you when its time.

Google Spams its Own Adwords Communications?

Yup, sounds ironic, however while clearing my inbox down this evening, I delved into the spam folder and noticed an odd email. The monthly Google Adwords results email that gets sent out was spammed by Google Mail.

I’ve included a screenshot below and I’ve blurred out the sensitive parts as it was for a clients campaign and my prolific use of filters & labels in Google Mail is worth an article of its own. However is it just me that thinks its a little ironic that Google would identify their own mail as spam?

google-adwords-spammed

Thanks for the Feedback

I just wanted to add a quick post regrading the feedback from the first video format post last week and to say thank you.

The response was immense, Skype lit up like a candle, email went crazy and the article itself ended up on AuctionBytes, although I suspect my presentation skills had little to do with it :)

A Better Way

So what a better way to say thank you, would really be another video!

I’ve taken on board your comments, I’ve listed them below and again any feedback good or bad is always welcomed. You’re learning with me on this experience, so its very much valued.

  • Adding an introduction slide
  • Liked the web camera insertion of me in the bottom right
  • Move the web camera down to eye level
  • Make some bullet points to read from/Script. Like if you were giving a presentation
  • Control the um’s and ah’s
  • Don’t include seller information (well blur as much as possible)
  • Sound quality altered between headset and desk microphone
  • @Phil Polish my bold spot
  • @Grek Don’t wear an orange hoody, looks like “Guantanamo Bay.”
  • @Lack of Bristolian accent
  • Shut up

Thanks

Comments?

Any feedback you might have is thoroughly welcomed, the comment box is below or a contact form for email or you can contact me via Skype or phone on the Contact Matthew page

Such a Small World. Happy Wednesday

20110330-102540.jpg
(Not the best picture, but it was stunning this morning)

Work this out, I’m walking to the third place, it’s raining and a beep appears from the pocket, it’s facebook, I’m now chatting to a friend on the opposite side of the planet. The world now feels really small and he’s enjoying the time out.

I look around, it’s raining, I’m the only one with sunglasses on, stepping in puddles. It appears that starting with the mindset that every day is going to be a ‘Happy Day’ is working well and I take a few minutes to chat to Clive who stands in almost any weather to meet his customers and have those briefest of conversations while he earns a decent wage, working, rather than begging, with the BigIssue.

Another pop up on the phone and it’s a colleague from India, we’re just checking over a few things from the day before’s design and are implementing it today. I’ve already spoken to the PA this morning and the content team are doing well, we had some issues with the quality of work from a new employee yesterday from the Philippines, I don’t think he realised we check the work so excessively with the tools I made, but it was already in-hand and process was working well.

I’m now sat slurping coffee, always black to start with, the blend here always makes a wonderful, full flavoured drink, after a 15 min conversation with Karol, whom I now class as a friend, rather than an counter clerk in some coffee shop, joking about the coffee and service in Starbucks, coaching him on the stark realisation that 1 in 1000 or so customers you’re going to annoy, upset or in their eyes under-deliver no matter what and that it’s knowing this and then dealing with the situations that will arise, makes the real difference, no matter how his ‘boss’ reacts, but being prepared in advance and acknowledging the problem, swings the advantage to him and the manner in which it’s dealt with.

And it’s not even 10am. Happy Wednesday.

The ShayTards – Hey! I’m vlogging here

Shay Carl & ShayTardsFor me, I cannot stand soaps, EastEnders, Coronation Street and so on… they all make me cringe and I’ve grown to strongly dislike the format and just get up and walk out when they come on. Tending to prefer factual ‘input’ where ever possible, either through the net, books or the iPlayer, plus my free time is normally late or exceptionally early in the day and there is little else on.

A prime example is I have thoroughly enjoyed ‘Wonders of the Universe‘ series and it kinda puts everything into perspective when you look at the world as a dot, with in billions of other stars and in some obscene amount of time, time will cease to exist.

I’m a little surprised I’ve not mentioned Shaycarl before on here, those who are linked to me on Facebook, see the odd post from me via YouTube about them. Today, I’m sharing my obsession with the outside world.

About ShayCarl

It started on March 5th 2009 and since then Shaycarl has literally posted a video a day and shared his life online with everyone.

His catchphrase is “Hey! I’m vlogging here!”

Prior to this Shaycarl was an evening DJ for station Z103, Idaho, US, where a video blogger called Philip DeFranco saw the response that Shaycarl had posted and decided to promote his content, increasing his number of views on the Shaycarl channel.

The Shaycarl channel now has over 890,000 subscribers, pimped over 12,000,000 channel views and the family centric version called the ‘ShayTards’s very quickly took in +800,000 subscribers, and some 62,000,000 channel views, which are insane numbers and they’re ranked in the top 25 channels on YouTube (anyone know a leader board for YouTube?)

Meet ShayCarl

Watch this, this kinda sets the tone of the rest of the videos, recorded in 2007, its gone downhill fast.

Meet The Tards

I can’t remember the first vlog I saw of the Shaytards (I should have just picked one at random), however it was one of the ShayTards and it just stuck. The ‘Tards’ are Shaycarls family and I’m 100% sure Shaycarl would not have been so sucessfull without the involvement of his family both in the video’s that are recorded but the 100% backing and inclusion from all of them.

Presented with his wife Katilette, they have four children, Sontard the eldest, Princesstard, Babytard and Rocktard the youngest, born in June 2010. I’m shutting up, meet them here:

Debt Free!!!

January 15th, 2011, they announced they were debt free. The VLog is below, its one of the most memorable, because of what its stands for and shows what can be done with determination and grit, oh and a whacky sense of humour and a very amusing family.

Two years

Thanks to Dave, this is the Two years VLog edition, enjoy!

Subscribe

You can subscribe via the following links below:

PS: This is a new super wide format I’m using, its all to do with the video’s and this might give you a hint of whats coming in the next few days ;-)

Quiet This Week I know…

dark_offices1

There really is something about dimly lit offices on a Friday.

A quiet week this week for blog posting, I have been working on several much larger posts that have taken up the time slots I set for writing here. I’m still here honest! But the new content is not at a stage that its not publicly viewable yet.

I’d thought I would share couple of things I have been up to this week:

#1 Book: Who Move My Cheese?

Brillant little book, here is my short review:

I received a “well loved” version, but intent on following the personal recommendation of that book I had been given, decided to read it while escaping the office.

Wow, these four little characters are so true to real life, Haw who finally adapts with time, Hem in denial, Scurry, the action’eer & finally Sniff who spots change early.

Definitely worth a read, its not even 100 pages long and there is plenty of writing on the wall to help you find your way :)

#2 Updated Pages

After following my own advice, well, the explanation of how I play in ‘Be a Player not a Bystander. Get in. Get Mucky‘ I’ve updated a couple of pages on the site to a new layout style and also altered the writing style to the 3rd party, narrator style, which I felt worked well.

Take a read and let me know what you think:

There are several others that so desperately need to be worked on, but that’s OK, at least they’re there and can be expanded upon.

#3 First Proper Poem

I even amazed myself and quite a few friends, made the partner cry, even myself cry. It was an epic journey writing it. The contents are a little personal and are dedicated to my son Alex whom we lost a few hours after birth. He would be four this year and only now am I feeling OK to talk about it openly.

I think I did OK, here goes:

I Miss You Alex

Sometimes when no one is around I cry
Sometimes when I am around people I hide the tears
Sometimes it hurts soo much
Sometimes I feel so lonely without you
Sometimes I feel really bad because I do not hurt enough for missing you
Sometimes I forget and that makes me feel sad when I remember you
Sometimes I lay in bed, thinking of you
Sometimes…

I wish I could hold you again
I wish I could change time
I wish you were here, but you are only in my mind or in photos
I wish I could tell the person right next to me
I wish we came to see you more often
I wish you could meet your sisters, they are truly crazy
I wish these tears would not smudge the screen so much
I wish…

I just miss you Alex. I know mummy does too.

Always thinking of you,
Daddy xxx

Reading that again, I surprised myself. I do not think this will be the start of any new writing benders, I have always been challenged when it comes to the creation of ‘creative writing’ and sadly feel that it will be a short moment of clarity and will fade away faster than the drug enticed world of the patients in the film Awakenings.

#4 Reading

I’ve managed to get quite a bit of reading done this week, the first book “who moved my cheese” I mentioned above, but I have also been updating the Book & Kindle library I started a few weeks back. The plug-in used for it needed some work on the templates and I have been fixing & updating as I go.

A few books worth mentioning:

  • Tribes by Seth Godin
  • Purple Cow by Seth Godin
  • Start & run a profitable Consulting Business by Douglas Gray
  • Who Moved My Cheese by Dr Spencer Johnson
  • What They Teach You at Harvard Business School: My Two Years Inside the Cauldron of Capitalism by Philip Delves Broughton
  • Instant MBA: Think, Perform and Earn Like a Top Business School Graduate (52 Brilliant Ideas) by Nicholas Bate

#5 Google Images Spam

These media bots are a nightmare, they’re spoiling and for the past few weeks have been distorting the figures, it does not help I use a CDN subdomain for the delivery of images and finally found this .htaccess redirect to tackle the way that WordPress deals with uncreated sites:

# robots.txt
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^cdn.lastdropofink.co.uk$
RewriteRule ^robots\.txt$ "http\:\/\/lastdropofink\.co\.uk\/robots\.txt" [R=301,L]

This needs to be added at the very top of the .htaccess file just below “RewriteEngine On” and “RewriteBase /” settings.

Google has just got the hint and the number of incoming views for just images are going down while Bing has started upping the pace. Its my own fault I add too descriptive descriptions to images, alt tags and title tags to links and I feel it only brings in leecher’s not readers so do not mind the loss in traffic.

#6 Email InBox

Oh and I cleared my email inbox, completely. Set up rules to filter everything and I’m looking at just 10 that came in this morning that need my attention.

Happy Friday!

Those that know me well, know I get quite excited about Fridays. I’m not sure why. I just love Fridays. So on that note… Happy Friday!

Image thanks to: Arenamontanus