Dear Apple,

With the usual relish of a kid at Christmas, I went to pick up the iPad Pro which was launched today. My faithful and trusted Mac Air has been around the block. The “A”,”S” and “H” keys are showing signs that I do not cut my fingernails enough, but otherwise it is working fine.

The new iPad Pro was hailed as the missing link for businessmen. The device that would finally get those stubborn desktop and laptop users hooked onto tablets.

Anyway – having gone to the candy store and partaken of the fruit, I thought you might be interested to know why I am back to using my Mac Air to write this blog post. Perhaps we can fix my initial problems before my 14 day money back guarantee runs out, because I REALLY have been looking forward to something that replaces the Mac Air.

My initial concern, before leaving the store, was the lack of a USB port. I speak at conferences all around the world and they generally ask for me to bring my presentation in on a USB stick. They absolutely do not want me to rely on the web and I have seen many a presenter scuppered for such a rash and dangerous approach… so I agree with them. So how will I get my presentations from my device onto the presentation laptop? I am sure that will become clear… so let’s move on…

I bought the iPad Pro with 128GB and the fancy keyboard. The keyboard was one reason I had not migrated in the past, so this sounded like the panacea. But it seems connecting a keyboard doth not a Laptop make 🙁 Most of the time, the silly iPad keyboard pops up on the screen even with my keyboard attached. Why? WHY? but that was the least of my challenges.

My largest problem so far is that I can no longer embed LastPass into my browser. That means that I cannot easily log in securely, with unique and complex passwords, to anything on the web any more. I CAN download the LastPass app, but that is not a realistic solution day-to-day. I have to log in to dozens, scores, of systems every day and I use multiple browser plugins. I need a REAL operating system. I assumed you had figured that out if you had worked out that there is an incredibly substantial group of people not moving to tablets. You did some research as to why, surely?

Now – let’s talk about mice. I am fine with the track-pad on the Mac Air. It works. But where has it gone on that “fully functional keyboard”? I assume I can go out and buy a Bluetooth mouse – but let’s not pretend that touching the screen on its side is a substitute for a mouse or track pad. It just isn’t.

But the REAL issue? I cannot download normal software! How do you expect to say it is a substitute for a laptop if I cannot download any of my software?

So I decided to try to write a blog post to get used to the system.

But I couldn’t log onto my WordPress from my Browser any more, because I can’t install browser extensions.

So I download my password system, but I am now reduced to cutting and pasting every time, which seems to include having to use my fingerprint button twice as well, each time.

It just is not a replacement for a laptop. I fear it will be back to the candy store until the new Mac Air comes out. If you plan to lose the USB ports on that as well, then you may lose a lot more than that.

Yours faithfully,

Dixon Jones.

And I Laughed and Laughed

I am sorry… I couldn’t help myself when I saw this on Freelancer.com.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 11.15.05

I assumed the project budget must be an error…. 250M-750M must be what he meant, so I put in a provisional bid of $277,777,777 although I would need to get the other shareholders to agree before I started the work…

If it was indeed a budget of $250, I have some questions for “Deadovation” which I think is the handle for the guy that wants it built.

  • Is the power supply for computers like these a chargeable extra? That picture was posted in 2010 by the way… we have grown quite a bit since then.
  • In an average day, Twitter says there are 500,000 million Tweets. In the same 24 hour period, Majestic typically crawls FOUR TIMES as many web pages and then does a calculation on about 700 billion pages. Do I need to also build the crawlers and the data centers for the distributed crawlers for $250 or is that a chargeable extra?
  • So far, Majestic has crawled 53,110,348,345 MB of data. Which hard drive would he suggest I put the data on when I build it for him? How would he like the data delivered? Container lorry?
  • Is this project asking me to copy another project, or are the “few extra bells and whistles” going to be enough to stop the lawyers?
  • Is PHP the right software language for interrogating a data set of this size?

If you are going to build something on the Internet, I have two honest to god bits of advice. The first is to innovate, not replicate. The second is to understand at least the basics of the technical challenge you hope to overcome.

In the meantime – if you want the REAL THING, it costs from £30/$50 a month per user. I think that is probably the wiser option.

Xbox Father Needs Psychiatric Help

My son’s XBox Live account stopped working last week.

You would have thought XBox support/UX was friendly wouldn’t you? I know millions of people use it every day… but have you ever tried to be a parent when your child’s Xbox Live stops working? Oh… My …. God, Microsoft. OH…. MY….GOD!

It all started many years ago when my then quite young son wanted an Xbox and apparently needed an “ACCOUNT” to use it. I got one for him using the “parental” option and it would appear that since I was in the US that day… or because on that day only US account had parental controls or… or because the “Gold for a year” voucher card from the shop deafulted to US or for WHATEVER reason, his account is registered as a US account, despite us living in the wilds of England.

So this means it is practically impossible to enter a UK credit card…

Well I went onto support to try and find out. I chose the “community chat” button…Is it meant to look like this Microsoft?

My cookie support is just the basic paranoia level, not the wicked conspiracy level and chat systems work on other sites, so I reverted to other ideas. Weirdly, I seem to have two logins for the same account – one for my under age son and one for me, the over stressed parent. The email address of me as “dad” has no Gold account and my son has an active Gold account… I recall heartaches some months ago getting this all working, so I did SOMEthing right… but when I try and update my son’s account it says I need parental permission… so I am prompted to log in again… all very painful. Especially when i get to a screen like this:

Errr… you re darn right it shouln’t have happened. But I know a thing or two about big data and I know there are issues. But thank you SO much for the helpful message and guidance as to what to do next Micrososft. What… from that screen… am I meant to do next? I know… I’ll try and look up the error code. I see that you have so MANY errors that you give us a lovely error code lookup box right there in my account menu.

Lovely. Here’s what I get:

Bollocks….  right… what’s next? Ah! there’s an option to change the region! Hoo…ray…Henry! It requires sending me a verification code to my email address… fair enough… at least it’s to the “parent” email address. I put in the code to change the region to the UK. I get:

I wonder what is on that “Region Condition Support” Page? let’s have a look?

I can only assume the system thinks I am a minor. For the record I’ll turn 50 next year if technology doesn’t kill me off first.

It was at ABOUT this time that my son bounces down the stairs saying “Thanks Dad! That fixed it!” I said “What?” He says, “whatever you did, you just fixed it.”

Ah well… he’s happy now. It turned out in the end that I had to tick the new terms of use box! The terms I spent ages reading the first time around and then had inadvertantly ticked on the way in to try and solve his problem.

I’m happy again now.

Crazy Travelling

I live in the Shires of England
Last weekend I was in Istanbul, having been in Oslo a short time before.
I am in Austin Texas today.
Monday I’ll be in New York.
Next month I have to be in:
Stockholm
Las Vegas
Madrid
Paris
and that’s at the cost of
Berlin

The company also has events before the end of the year in
Atlanta
Milan
Singapore
Chicago
Manchester

When I say “links are about Relationships” I like to think I walk the walk 🙂

Google Changes Search Syntax

I just noticed Google “going all Ajax” in their search results.

Whatever they are doing, the net effect is that NO keyword data will be available in third party analytics tools. Indeed… it probably won’t appear in GA either if GA is genuinely using Javascript to do its tracking.

The Old Way

The New Way

The Effect

[EDITOR NOTE…. THAT’S ME… IT’S A PERSONAL BLOG: Beyond the next chart this post has been updated Thursday Morning. Comments prior to that may refer to previous (incorrect) interpretations.]

I originally suspected that they had been testing this for  few weeks, judging by the search term on brand drop in PIWIK analytics integrations:

But then that goes to show what happens when you write up a blog post in a rush. The chart above was not filtered to show Google traffic only and whilst that drop looks interesting, when I DID look at the traffic properly filtered, Google seems to still be happily tracking at least some of the brand keyword at the same level at the moment:

So either it was early checking, or something else was happening to still let my analytics track, because usually anything after a hashbang would get lost, So next I did a search for a tool/script which checks the referrer URL when you land on the page. I found one on stardrifter.org so did THIS search to get stardrifter in the hashbanged results:

Clicking on that referrer test should show the referrer URL in the URL bar at the top, yes? But infact Google is redirecting and showing a different (more expected and normal) referral URL – as can be seen when I click on the link:

So… the Hashbang has gone… but then again, so have the keywords. Just a parameter “&q=” with no content. I tried to log out and do a similar test and did not generate an instance where the keyword data was parsed. Maybe someone else can.

Mantras to live by

I thought I’d write down a few random thoughts. I don’t THINK I plagiarized them, but I am sure many a philosopher has had similar thoughts before. These are the sorts of things I try to keep in the back of my mind when I get up in the morning.

“If I do seven things in a day and three of them didn’t work, I still achieved more than the guy that did one thing well.”

“Empires are built on Towers. Knowing why they work is a key element in building my own Marketing Towers.”

“Don’t rely on one thing going right. It’s the one thing that won’t.”

“Success is a state of mind. Donald Trump thinks he is a success… with four bankrupt companies under his belt. Donald’s mind must be in a state.”

“Links are just relationships. Some are good. Some are bad.”

“Whatever marketing philosophy you live by – I bet you lived by another one last year.”

“I see my life as pieces on a chess board. Every action I take is aiming to advance one piece, one space. I am not looking for Mate in four, I am looking for a good game. Then occasionally I get bored and start again.”

“There’s no point in the goal, unless you enjoy the journey. The goal passes by in a minute… the journey often takes a lifetime.”

(c) Dixon Jones. 2013.

Taking Risks in Business

I’ve been running Internet Businesses since the nineties. Before that I set up my first business writing and running Murder Mystery events just in the middle of Thatcher’s recession. Some would say I have succeeded… others would say I have a way to go yet.

I can confirm that I indeed have a way to go yet… but many other good friends fell along the way…

But if everything I had tried had gone well… I would have been knighted. If more of the things I tried had gone wrong, I would be pushing shopping trollies. I think I have played the game by taking considerably less risk than most on the Internet. I feel the Internet has in general been akin to the wild, wild west frontier – where the only two weapons were faith and guns and neither of these have much of a place in business.

Sure – I took a big risk when I left university, choosing to start a business with less than £1,000 borrowed from a friendly bank manager. But I had no money to lose anyway… so how big was this risk compared to six or seven figure VC funding for an unproven P&L model? Very little. If I had failed, I could – at that age – have picked myself up and the damage would have been less than if I had written off a motorbike. It FELT like  a risk at the time, but it really wasn’t great.

Then when the Internet came along, I was learning about search engines – or rather how I might influence the algorithms – and found myself going to a group called “First Tuesday” It was an alien world to me, where VCs and entrepreneurs met in what Bob Geldof – the night’s speaker- observed was a “Sea of Greed”. He was right… so I set up a smaller consultancy, with about £30,000 worth of cash as I recall, shared between my mortgage and my business partner’s cash. Hardly a king’s ransom. By contrast, Bob Geldof”s Internet business – worth £30 Million at its height – was eventually sold for £150,000 in just 2003. I may have risked my house – but my risk was nothing compared to the guy that thought the others in the room smelt of greed. I have to wonder how spectacularly some of the others in that room must have risked and lost compared to me.

Now I have again taken a risk – by working with some incredible people trying to crawl the Internet. You would think that there are some other pretty spectacular companies already doing this rather well, with Google and Bing leading the field. But as you grow older, you learn to better assess risk. I don’t believe we have risked anything like Microsoft risking the farm with $1 trillion. Now I would happily sell out for that $1 trillion – but I think that the point is that I saw innovation and commitment in the guys at Majestic and thankfully they saw some kind of value in me. Majestic IS successful and I am convinced will continue to be so, but the risks are far from Casino like in nature. Sure, when you play a game you want to create a winning strategy, but try not to leave your back door open… a Fox will come in to take your first born.

Don’t risk more than you can afford to lose.

I am also rubbish at Poker.