Toilet Roll Pyramid Equation

Hello 2014!!

OK, so for one reason or another a pyramid of toilet rolls has begun to form next to the toilet in our house.

One reason may be this: Here’s one I made earlier

Another may just be that the recycling bin was a bit full and the kids thought it would be fun.

Anyway, last night I started to wonder if there was a mathematical equation which would, given the height or width of the widest row of rolls, give you the total rolls in the pyramid.

There is and it’s pretty simple…

Given that x = height in rolls or widest row in rolls the equation is (x²+x)/2

One could be forgiven for thinking “well it should be half of x²“, as x² should be the total in the square, that the pyramid (or if stacked aligned left) triangle, is half of. In actual fact though half of x² would only include half of the longest line in the pyramid as this crossed the divide between the two halves.

OOOO                    OOOO 
OOOO  <--- pyramid      OOOO
OOOO         half ----> OOOO
OOOO                    OOOO

(4²+4)/2 = (16+4)/2 = 20/2 = 10

Now it’s a very long time since I did any maths like this really. Day to day stuff doesn’t often cover equations to calculate the total number of toilet rolls in a toilet roll pyramid (lord knows why). So I was fairly pleased with myself for realising this simple formula.

My kids on the other hand were pretty apathetic about the whole thing 😦

Oh well, the geek in me was pleased either way 🙂


P.S. once the Pyramid reaches 10 high I’ll add a picture 🙂

HTML – An Unauthorised Biography

What is HTML?
Where did HTML come from?
what HTML variants are there?

In this post I will answer all these questions and more.

What is HTML?

HTML is one of the languages (in fact the main one) used to build modern day web pages but it’s been around for over 20 years in a number of different forms. Continue reading “HTML – An Unauthorised Biography”

Why Do I Need a Website?

Why do I need a website?...Let me tell you why.
Why do I need a website?...Let me tell you why.

A question I am sometimes asked is “Why do I need a website?”

My answer is usually something along the lines of…

“Are you mad?”

“You do realise this is the 21st Century right??”

“Why do you need a website??”

Seriously though, this is a valid question, and it deserves a valid answer. Continue reading “Why Do I Need a Website?”

Ante-Social Behaviour

Before you all leave comments telling me I can’t spell anti 🙂 please read on…

Social Media?

Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue. – wikipedia

Ok so if you haven’t heard of sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter by now you must have been living in a bubble. Most of you that have heard of them are probably wondering what social sites that allow you to chat to friends, share video and so on have to do with your business, they are only used by young people with nothing better to do with their time and so on right? Well, sorry to burst your bubble but they potentially represent the biggest change in the way business is conducted since email was invented.

Social media for business

Social media is not something you can afford to ignore whatever your business model. Out there your potential customers are engaging in conversation, sharing their lives, tagging pictures and more, and you could be part of that. However, the buzz that is going on right now about social media is drowning out the whole point for some. They are getting lost in the hype and making very basic mistakes in the way they try to use it.

Social media is exactly that… social – would you begin a conversation with someone by telling them you can give them a discount on your products? Would your only conversation consist of what you do for a living and how you can help them increase their site traffic? No… well I would hope not, if so then maybe you should stop reading now. My point is people who are new to things like facebook fan pages, twitter and so on are not necessarily sure what they should be posting or how often and a lot simply go with what they know – their business.

Personally if someone bombards me with their special offers via facebook or twitter I cant get to the unfollow button fast enough. Social media is about interacting with your audience and making them feel like they know who you are and what you’re about not just what you do. They are much more likely to buy from you based on a recommendation than by seeing your advertising especially if you are tweeting nothing but sales pitches. For more info on this check out the following article from Twitter Fail: Why You Should NOT Just Keep Tweeting About Your Business. you will also find “twitter for business” and “best practise” links within this article which are also well worth a read.

So what about facebook? Fan pages are an important tool especially in a B2C business model and even more so now that people can tag brands and fan pages in photos. Again though it has to feel organic for your fans not just be sell, sell, sell!! Give them something to do – a simple poll about your product or marketing ideas, give them  competitions just dont tell them how great you are. Basically, make them feel like they are a part of your business.

Ante Up

So whats the Ante all about? well an ante is a forced bet in poker. Social media marketing comes with a similar forced bet – but it’s time not money. You really need to dedicate an amount of time every day to your social media, however small. Spend 10 minutes answering tweets or re-tweeting things you find of interest. Update your fan page with any news you have or anything you feel your fans would find insightful and make sure you dont make it all about you. Just partly!! YouTube, is a great way to drive traffic to your site with things like product demonstrations and advice on your industry – who knows it better than you right? Spend time once a week creating a 5 minute video about one of your products – they’ll mount up quick and if people see you understand a product or service they are more likely to buy from you. ~Check out this article on how to effectively use YouTube to the advantage of your business.

Now I’m guessing quite a few of you are thinking to yourself “yeah right, like I have time for that”, but there are ways to make it easier. You can link Facebook and Twitter to your blog and auto update them when you post a new article, similarly you can update Facebook from Twitter and so on.

Still not convinced? Then try these facts on for size… 3.5 billion (yes billion) pieces of content are shared on facebook each WEEK, 30 million tweets are sent out everyday on Twitter, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, 14% trust advertising, 34% of bloggers post their opinions on products & brands. Check out this awesome infographic by derri_hasmi.

Social Media - Te Biggest shift since the industrial revolutionConvinced yet? You should be because if you dont get on board you will be left behind. Facebook and Twitter are really the big guns in this equasion but there are other social networks with specific niches. LinkedIn, the social network for business professionals, is to float on the New York stock exchange with an offer that could value the site at more than £1.8bn. If you are in a B2B marketplace then LinkedIn could be a better bet that the more retail focuses social networks but they still shouldn’t be ignored.

So get yourself to Twitter and sign up, see what it’s all about. Make sure you are harnessing the power of facebook as a way to find new audiences and ensure you dont miss out on the bandwagon, just make sure you keep it social. If it all still seems too much like hard work or too confusing drop me a line and I’ll do what I can to help.

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Is Facebook the new Internet?

I am one of those old codgers able to remember the days of 3 channels on the box, no seriously! I remember seeing the Channel 4 launch banners being pulled along behind small planes walking back from School. I also remember that back then there was no internet, no email address or website address on advertising and no way to find out what your mates from school were doing that day except to ring or call round for them.

Fast forward a few years, ok, quite a few, and suddenly adverts on the TV are all saying check out our website and listing their address at the bottom of the screen. Email is everywhere and people don’t have to leave home to know whats going on around them. The internet has truly arrived, not just a space for chatting to spotty 13 year olds in chat rooms any more it is now a serious marketing stream. However recently you may have noticed that peoples website addresses are not necessarily what appears at the bottom of the screen any more. Now it appears to be all about their facebok page “find us on facebook!!”

So why is this? Well quite simply supply and demand. Businesses have a constant demand for clients, Facebook can supply. Dont believe me? Here are the stats straight from the horses mouth. Ok so facebook doesn’t do everything right, we cant effectively buy from our favourite retailers without going to their site… wrong!! With changes to the way pages on facebook work, over the next 12 months there will be a massive surge in f-commerce and you will see more and more people buying directly through facebook. I would imagine that Paypal, although still fairly secure in their business model, are keeping a very close eye on Facebook right now as the concept of buying directly through them with Facebook credit must have them wondering how big a share they will take. Social shopping in a real way is now likely to become a reality after a number of previously failed attempts and the big retailers will be quick to exploit the idea of sharing your possible purchase with the firends you currently have online, “I was gonna buy this, what do you think?”, and their friends wont even have to leave Facebook to check it out and comment. Facebook have already taken the first step towards implementing this by allowing pages to be tagged within photos and with more televisions becoming connected to the internet as standard look out for facebook tv just around the corner.

So is facebook the new internet? Well honestly, no but it IS trying. If you are looking to promote your services to another business (B2B) then you would probably not look to push it through facebook as much as some other avenues like LinkedIn, however, if you are in a Business to consmer (B2C) business you ignore facebook as both a marketing and sales medium at your peril. As the next few years unfold and both f-commerce and t-commerce take off, and believe me they will, the early adopters will most likely be the ones lining their pockets.

Why “I see web people”?

Me: I see web people.
Online shrink: In your dreams?
Me: Sad emoticon
Online shrink: While you’re awake?
Me: Happy emoticon
Online shrink: web people like, in cyber cafes? In work places?
Me: Walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re not online.
Online shrink: How often do you see them?
Me: All the time. They’re everywhere.

We all know people like that though right? always tweeting on their phone and keeping people updated as to how their constipation is this morning. Mock them I may but they are the staple of future web business and the people most likely to tell their friends about you, be it good or bad!! Keep these people happy and entertained and you are well on your way to increasing your customer base.

So how to do it? Well, there’s no easy answer despite what some people would like to tell you. Each business is different and has its own unique target audience. Women for instance shop differently to men (but we knew that anyway right), they are much more likely to use functionality such as “things you viewed recently” just for an example. Gender, age, location, tech savvy even dare I say it religion can all play a role in deciding whether a visitor will or won’t visit your site or buy your products.

You have to tailor your site to fit your targets. Selling to the over 50’s? Avoid animation and over complicated design, try to keep it clear and accurate. Not being disparaging to older people in any way incidentally, I just know that as I get older I have less and less time and the simpler and quicker I can do something the better. Targeting the teens and early twenties? Make it big and bold, keep it fresh and exciting and make sure you have all the latest ways of letting them tell everyone how great you are. I see so many people get swept along with the tide when it comes to their web sites and what they think their customers need. To paraphrase Dr Ian Malcolm in Jurrasic Park…

“Yeah, but your developers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Yes I know, I watch a lot of films. However this rings true with a lot of websites and the people behind them often get caught up in the pretty aspects and think less about what the content and functionality of the site is meant to be achieving. Splash pages for instance are a pet hate of mine, “yes lets put an extra click between your visitors and your content”, people still creating them in 2011 should really be hung up by their dreamweavers and left there. Animation is useful for bringing attention to your site, be it flash or javascript based, but over do it and your visiters will be overwhelmed and miss the point. The ultimate rule though no matter who your audience is has to be: Content is King!!

People come to your site so find something whether it’s details of your product, information about your business, details of their friends bowel movements and so on. Give them what they want or watch them get it from someone else, that’s your choice.

confused visitorHaving banged on about how important it is to keep your content at the forefront, it’s also now more and more important for the look of your site to be spot on as well. Advancements in web technology and broadband mean the days of poor quality images and slow loading flash should be a thing of the past. Now you can update part of a site without having to reload entire pages, manipulate look and feel with Javascript and CSS on the fly and bring things to life in ways that just weren’t really possible even 5 years ago. What you have to remember is that your website is now, more than ever, your public face and first impressions really do count. Make that first impression in the right way and you have a foot up in a world which is becomeing more and more competitive all the time. Don’t and you’ll be wondering why all your competitors are leaving you behind.

This is the reasoning behind the name – When I created this site I was predominantly building websites for a living and I was seeing more people like this everyday (maybe a little in myself dare I say). Plus the name is cool 🙂

So feel free to browse about. There will be the odd web design entry, lots of music and a good dose of randomness.