Monthly Archives: December 2008

35,000 blog views so far – but the paper clip is King

My weekly sitemeter blog monitoring email has just arrived announcing I have reached 20,271 page views and 16,200  visitors since I started blogging a couple of year ago.

For reasons too complicated to go into here, I maintain a duplicate copy of this blog at And this has generated 14,722 page views and 10,344 visitors respectively.

The reason for mentioning this, is the surprising discovery that the most popular story on my blogs (by a factor of 4) was the one about the humble paper clip from August 2007 The not so simple paper clip. I have spent some time trying work out why this particular story has proved to be so popular, but remain bemused.

Equally confusing is why British Standard for a cup of tea – BS 6008 is second on the list.


Balsamiq Mockups – the quick and easy way to design a website

mytunez_tnMany of the clients I see understand the power and importance of marketing their product or service through the world wide web. However, very few of them have the knowledge, technical skills and creative flair to be able to produce a professional website. In quite a few cases they have been worried about how to explain to a professional website designer what they are trying to achieve.

Thanks to an interview on Leo Laport’s net@night podcast I have discovered a possible solution. It is called Balsamiq Mockups and comes from a ‘one man band’ company Balsamiq Studios, founded by an ex-Google employee Giacomo “Peldi” Guilizzoni. Despite have returned home to Italy to start his business he has managed to sell $100,000 of his $79 software in five months.

As Giacomo says:
“Using Balsamiq Mockups feels like you are drawing, but it’s digital, so you can tweak and rearrange controls easily, and the end result is much cleaner. Teams can come up with a design and iterate over it in real-time in the course of a meeting. With more than 60 pre-built controls to choose from, you can design anything from a super-simple dialog box to a full-fledged application, from a simple website to a Rich Internet Application.”

He has created an excellent two minute demonstration video showing what the software can do.


Launch a small business in 10 steps

launchlabStarting a business is a complicated and demanding activity which can often overwhelm first timers. So it is great when someone breaks it down into digestible parts. In this instance Dan Matthews at has written a two part article which breaks business start-up into ten steps.

I have listed them out below to give you a flavour, but you will need to read both part one and part two to get the full low-down.
1. Learn about your market

2. Write a business plan

3. Create a ‘business’ legally

4. Get proper funding

5. Find business premises

6. Buy the right tech and equipment

7. Developing products and services

8. Recruiting staff

9. Advertise and market your business

10. Get paid

Asian surprises at the British Library

After three years at the British Library I have almost ceased to be surprised by items we hold.  However colleague Hedley Sutton managed to come up trumps during his recent ‘Show and Tell’ for staff.

Here are a selection of some the curious documents from the Asian & African Studies collections he managed to find for us to educate and  inform:

•    A copy of the New Testament published in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) during 1914.  The text is written in Armenian script.

•    ‘Nature’s Self-Printing’ published in Mangalore City (South West India)  by the Mission Press, a publishing house run by Missionaries who loved India. Appeared to contain samples of pressed Indian Flora from 1862. Some plant-resins appeared had leaked through the paper pages, various leaves showed signs of being nibbled by bugs.

•    1844 examination papers for entrance into the East India Company’s administration (the equivalent of the Civil Service). Any student who wanted to enter the Company had to study for six months and then pass examination with at least two Indian languages, with papers in economy and history, also Latin, Greek and Mathematics.

•    This was a boxed collection of miniature books from Japan from the 1960’s and 1970’s. One of the books in was less than one inch square, with the initials JC embossed on the front; the content was Jimmy Carter’s inaugural speech both in English and Japanese.

•    One of a series: ‘HogHunters Annual’, an Indian serial publication from 1928 dedicated to the hunting of hogs/wild pigs (aka Pig Sticking). The annual detailed ways of killing hogs with spears while riding on horseback.

Image from

Image from

•    Unexpected was a batch of Nazi propaganda leaflets. These were again a serial publication, written in German in the late 1930s and distributed to Germans living in India.

•    The presentation took a rather grisly turn with the record of Courts Martial held by the East India Company between 1801 – 1821. In the early 19th century East India Company, the attitude to behaviour was pretty severe. For example, in November 1818 a Private was sentenced to 1,000 lashes on his bare back for being drunk and refusing to go to his barrack when ordered to do so.  Because all 1,000 lashes administered at once would kill anyone, the punishment would have taken place in instalments over several days or weeks. The record also gives a gruesome step-by-step guide for carrying out an execution by firing squad, including the music to be played (the Dead March from Handel’s ‘Saul’) and at what point to blindfold the prisoner.

Many thanks to Heather Morley for sharing her detailed notes of the meeting.

Entrepreneurs to help Cancer Research UK beat cancer

openventures1I recently met one of the team behind the Open Ventures Challenge in aid of Cancer Research UK.

Their radical idea is to apply open innovation principles to venture creation, with the aim of building three new activities which will each generate £10 million to help beat cancer. They can be independent business ventures, new ventures for an existing company or a new venture for Cancer Research UK to run themselves.

This is a brave experiment from Cancer Research UK as it combines the use of social media and ethical capitalism. As they say on their website, they don’t know what will come out of it, but “look forward to seeing what you come up with”. Could it be a “Body Shop for Cancer”? Could it be the next “Race for Life”? Could it be a way to remove £10m from the cost of research?

The Challenge runs from November 2008 to June 2009 but already has 32 suggestions.

To join in with this fascinating experiment you have to agree to the following:
1. to give honest and open feedback
2. to act in good faith at all times
3. to treat all community members with respect and courtesy