What Would You Do With 20 Million Dollars?

This month (September edition) of Wired UK focused on inspiration. I must admit that my pile of unread wired magazines was starting to get out of hand. Thirsty for inspiration I started reading. At first I was a bit confused. This issue has a lot of inspirational stories from the wider world beyond the confines of the UK.

These are some of the startups featured. What came across so strongly in this issue was that many (read most) of the inspirational companies featured have serious funding.


Their vision is clear: create a platform your mom could use to create an ecommerce store. Carl's stated goal is to create an evolution of the ecommerce concept. At its heart their platform focuses on the core concept of how to help your customers have a great experience.

The team launched with $1.5M in seed funding. See Alibaba figures below for an idea of the market size, these guys have made it to 15K stores in 15 months. To give them credit, they have achieved the kind of growth most startups dream of.

Team: Carl Waldekranz, Kaj Droning, Birk Nilson and Silva Ghorbani.


This startup has figured out a way of beating DDOS attacks on legitimate  sites.  Their technology is described as a having two parts:

A my gun is  bigger than yours way of deferring the immediate threat of DDOS.

The opportunity to learn from identifying common sources of attacks. In the fight against cyber attack, it is easy to see how network effects on this kind of model become really valuable. They have raised $22.1M according to crunch Base.

Team: Lee Holloway, Matthew Price and Michelle Zatlyn


These guys can show you how to do a kick start! They aimed to raise $30K but raised $2.43M in 34 days. 3D scribbling are the new way!

Team: Peter Dilhorne and Max Bogue


Michael reveals his tips on limiting the cost of failure so you can live to fight again. Crunch Base reports they have raised $10M.

Team: Michael Acton Smith


A startup trying to revolutionise online payments and deliver a product fit for 2013. The team received $20M in funding including from PayPal.

Team: John Collison


Alibaba: Quarterly sales passing $160Bn eclipsing eBay or Amazon.

The Web Is Dead: Last year the average time on the Web shrank to 70 minis per day vs 72 the previous year, the first annual reduction, according to comscore. At the same time American mobile app usage went up from 94 to 124 minutes respectively.

Top Idea

My top inspirational idea from this edition of wired: "a stream of messages telling retailers how to run their shop" allowed Tictail to differentiate themselves. /me makes note to do a tweet a day on ideas to boost your site revenue.


The Problem with Second Hand Vehicles

20130709_145050I recently purchased an 'old' FZ6 Fazer. Old, in this case being a 2005 model. I noticed a few minor bumps when I bought it but couldn't have noticed some of the other issues.

The bike had obviously been in a bump but it wasn't apparent that a number of parts in the cowling were cracked and one of the fork legs was ever so slightly bent.

So far the list of work carried out includes:

  • Replacing the tyres as they were a crazy square shape and unmatched. I decided to go for the Pirelli Rosso 2 over the Rosso corsa. I have previously tried, on this and other bikes, BT-020, BT-021, BT-016, Michelin power pure, Dunlop 211 and the rosso. Of them all the rosso 2 from pirelli was by a far the best tyre. You may be thinking 'that tyre is a waste on a FZ6'? Without getting into a personal discussion of 'what ever makes you happy'; I am riding using the whole area of the tyre. The reason I am on a FZ6 is because I was involved in an accident a while back while on an R1. Bottom line: the other driver said that they didn't leave their lane so it went against me. R1 with 0 years no claims is not something I can afford :-) Doesn't stop me riding like I am still on it though.

  • Front fork springs: The stock springs on the FZ6 are almost crazy soft. After doing a bit of research I found a performance shop  who stocked and fitted RaceTech springs. This made a huge difference to the overall handling of the bike. On the down side - I should have probably done the valves too as the compression damping is pretty hard now.

  • New wind screen: The screen was cracked near one of the screws and was making a horrible buzzing noise. It took a while to figure out what was going wrong with this.

  • Tail bulb / dipped bulb: I have never had to replace a bulb on a motorbike before but this bike seems to be special and has already had a few replaced. For reference, as the FZ6 uses a split left / right , dipped / main setup respectively, you will need a H4 bulb. As I side note: when I needed to replace the dipped bulb I found myself in a service station on the A1 in the dark. I thought I needed a screw driver to get it done: I asked an AA guy if I could borrow one for a minute and he said no due to health and safety - are you kidding me?.

  • Rear suspension sag setup: I watched a lot of YouTube videos like this one on sag setup. As the FZ6 doesn't offer anything but pre-load adjustment on the rear mono-shock that was as far as I can go. The net effect was that before the front spring upgrade, the front had too much damping and sagged a long way slowly. After the spring upgrade on the front the sag is right but the damping on the front is now much harder than the back. Next step in this ongoing upgrade will probably be front valves and new fixed rear mono - with matched damping.

  • Over a litre of engine oil: one of the things that I noticed early with this particular bike was that it was drinking oil at an alarming rate. It looks like it was getting through about 400ml per 650 miles. I investigated the air box to see if an oil return was feeding vapour into the engine and also checked the water. The water seemed to have a film of oil. I have dropped the bike off but the garage believe it is not a noticeable amount. The next area for attention is the stem seals to see if they are leaking. Deep joy. To give the garage credit they offered to check the stem seals under their three month warranty. Nice of them.

  • Heated hand grips. OK - I am getting old. These babies mean I can ride 12 months of the year!

The saga of the bike that doesn't want to run while the sun is out continues...

Time To Try WordPress

For quite a while I have been letting my personal site slip.

In an effort to increase the amount of bloging I manage to get done I have decided to go for a non-technical solution. I reviewed a couple of different technologies and platforms including:

  • Blogger.com

  • Joomla

  • Code Ignitor

  • WordPress

The bottom line is that while I would like to be able to extend the platform I use - most will offer some level of customisation. The reality though, is that I need a tool that lets me concentrate on writing. Given that, the obvious place to start seemed to be WordPress as I have experience scripting plugins from a previous contracting role.

Hopefully this means you will see an increase in posts. If you want to connect with me follow me on twitter.