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Facebook Privacy Settings

Posted: November 2nd, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

These are regularly ‘improved’ so it is difficult to keep on top of the myriad options available to you, should you know where to look. Best practice however remains:
• Set your contents (status, interests, photos) to private – that is, not searchable by a search engine such as Google
• Change your password regularly
• Do not authorise any third party application to use your account, as it is very hard to keep track of their ‘terms of use’
• Do not use ‘Places’ information, as these can make you vulnerable if you are home or away
• Only be friends with someone you know
• Remember that by using Facebook, you are allowing them to store your data effectively forever. Will what you are putting on Facebook now be something you would want a future employer to see?
Other good sources of information about privacy settings include:




Loving Quora – Opinions, not facts

Posted: May 3rd, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: services, tips | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

If you haven’t seen Quora yet, have a look. It’s a site which operates like Wikipedia, but with one distinct difference – it seeks opinions on topics rather than facts.

Quora stands for QUestions OR Answers, and has been designed to scratch those curiosity itches which occur when you can’t find a straight answer or would like a decision to be made for you.

I think that Wikipedia pushed a lot of people away by the very nature of needing to know facts to add to the site. The charm of Quora is that you can add your opinion to a range of topics, and as long as you justify your position, you definitely feel like you are contributing.

How does this help your business? Simple. This allows even the smallest entrepreneur to become an expert online. It is well-liked by Google (gets lots of ranking space), and given you can create an about you page, as long as you don’t abuse the trust that you won’t explicitly solicit work or create spam, your input as an expert will be welcomed.

Let MakingSoup help you set up your profile at Quora. We can manage relevant questions for you, and even arrange for answers to be fleshed out with your guidance. Add to the social good your company can produce!

Local New Heroes: Mad Hatters Fancy Dress

Posted: April 23rd, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: local net heroes | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

I’m not a huge fan of getting into fancy dress, but if I need to, I know where to go locally: Mad Hatters in Bodiam, East Sussex. It is a great little fancy dress shop which sells and hires, and utilised the power of the internet to allow for postal hires too. A fantastic idea!

Co how could they improve their site using IT services? This idea stems from the infamous wedding list which couples put together. If you are going to have a fancy dress party, there are some people who make a real effort into their outfits, those who have a great idea and then panic about it at the last minute, and those last few who think a hat is fancy dress. It isn’t.

I think there is an opportunity for party organisers to make fancy dress lists where, like a wedding list, they select costumes from their chosen theme, and have them contained in a list, which guests can be pointed to. The organisers get to show the sort of ideas they are looking for, and guests have a virtual one-stop shop for hires. Why not add a sweetener for the organiser – hire out ten costumes from your list and get yours free? Even better, have a nominal postage charge, subject to a minimum, which allows all the costumes to be delivered to one address, dropping the postage costs by a large amount?

There is a thought that there are no new ideas, just old ideas put together. In the entertainment market, it is always worth looking at traditional services and thinking ‘how can we adapt this for our sector?’

Endnote: Making Soup ITS has no business or personal connection to the above company, and has not carried out any IT work for them or their website – we just like (and have used) the company!

The Local Net Heroes is an ongoing project from MakingSoup which aims to pass on and share creative ideas to help local businesses expand. Services suggested by the article are available in a variety of rates and packages by any readers. Please get in touch for more details.



Cleaning up your PC or Mac

Posted: April 21st, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

For a PC: Ccleaner. It is brilliant.

For a Mac: Mr Clean and Disk Inventory X are, combined with Disk Utility, the best tools for the job.

Using our  iMac as an example, I will run through the different stages, to show the potential gains made.

Part one: Disk Inventory X

This provides a lovely tree map of your hard drive, so you can identify the enormous files and delete them at will. Do not delete something you are unsure of. Any doubt at all, and you are wiser to keep it. You will find a large file called Sleepimage – it literally keeps everything recorded so if your computer goes to sleep, it knows what to do. Leave it alone. It can be 2Gb. Still leave it alone.

Before Disk Inventory X : Capacity – 931.2GB, used 283 GB, free 648 GB

After: Used 231 GB, free 699 GB

Main culprits: DV Video. I know it is large, but it identified some DV video I had somehow tucked away. There was also some duplication of files.

Points to note: My photo library was a colossal 36GB! Time to make a cull of some images I think!


Part Two: Mr. Clean

This neat little application looks for duplicate files and removes one of them. Small and fast. Great work too.

Before: 699.5 GB

After: 697.98 GB


Part Three: Disk Utility

This is built into the Mac OS, and is perfect for tidying up ‘permissions’ – basically, how the computer software parts talk to each other. This won’t necessarily make space, but will make a difference to how well your computer runs. Considering it only takes a maximum of ten minutes to run, is worth putting on when you take a phone call. Set a date each month to do it.


Part Four: Take a backup of your drive

This doesn’t clean anything up, but is really important, so please do it!


In just half an hour, an overall saving of over 50GB and a faster computer! Have we missed anything out? Is there another program you use which you think makes a difference? Please let us know in the comments below.


Local Net Heroes: MinorMania

Posted: April 20th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: services | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

My children love MinorMania – it is a soft play centre in Frant (actually Bells Yew Green), and is one of the cleanest, friendliest indoor play areas that we have visited. So how can they be helped with IT?

One of the biggest-growing bandwagons recently has been App-building, and I think that MinorMania and other soft play areas are really missing a trick here. We visited on what was an overcast day in an otherwise glorious holiday week. The result – it was packed to the rafters! Obviously this made sense, but how can IT help?

If it is incredibly busy in poor weather, it stands to reason it would be quieter in warmer weather. In fact, we would suggest that the temperature and attendance oppose in a matching pattern during the holidays.

Our suggestion would be an enormously simple iPhone App (to begin with), which has basic details (opening times, food menu, location, entrance prices), but with ‘push notifications’ built in. The Manager could then see the sunny forecast, predict that the attendance would be low, and ‘push out’ a today only 10% discount on the App.

It would bring in numbers that might have otherwise not considered going, and would also put the soft play centre back into the thoughts of the users.

It would be relatively simple to implement, and because theuser base is at the moment small (but growing rapidly), it could be A-B tested really easily to identify the most interesting offers.

Why not just use email, you may ask? The simple reason is that email is time-retentive; that is, it is looked at by the user in their time, not when you request them to. A push notification comes up on the smartphone like a text message, and who doesn’t get even the tiniest frisson of excitement over a text message?

Endnote: Making Soup ITS has no business or personal connection to the above company, and has not carried out any IT work for them or their website – we just like (and have used) the company!

The Local Net Heroes is an ongoing project from MakingSoup which aims to pass on and share creative ideas to help local businesses expand. Services suggested by the article are available in a variety of rates and packages by any readers. Please get in touch for more details.

Preparing your computer for sale

Posted: April 18th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: tips | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

These are guidelines we have given out a few times recently, and thought it would be useful to pass on publicly. This is advice for anyone who has a laptop or tower they want to sell or give away, and is not definitive, but covers some areas that computer users may not have considered.

Remove your data

There is a big market for wiping data from hard drives, with talk of ‘seven-level shredding’, ‘overwriting’ and ‘null erases’.

Ignore all of this. Remove the hard drive instead.

This is relatively easy to do, even for a novice (although it is trickier in a laptop), and has untold benefits. Firstly, you can then hold on to your data. If you have anyone else’s data but yours on there, it is the law for you to delete it if no longer necessary. Personal data is just as valuable too though, and most hard drives can now be connected up to a computer and read as an external drive; this is a brilliant safety back-up and also captures a moment in time of your life. It also ensures that no-one else can access your data. If the next user needs a hard drive, but a new one. They are very cheap now, and you don’t need to spend too much to get something of an appropriate size. If you do want to push the boat out, buy Solid State Drives. What dies this mean? No moving parts, which means that in theory they last longer.

Remove all your passwords

You would be surprised at how many computer users need to write down their password, many times on their computer. You’d be even more surprised how many passwords are shared across multiple sites. Hands up, I do too! It is best to remove all trace of you, harmless password or not, from your computer.

Remove PAT testing stickering

This testing labelling offers a reassurance which you cannot continue – you are better removing it and removing doubt. Any new computer user should be sure that the equipment they are going to use is safe for use.

Don’t stick a vacuum in the tower!

Enormously tempting as it is, there are a number of deceptively delicate parts inside. If you really can’t resist a clean-up inside the tower, we would advice using a paintbrush to gently remove the larger parts, combined with an air aerosol (DIY shops, about £5 a can, incredibly useful) and earthing yourself. It goes without saying you should never open a tower or laptop up without turning the power off.

Have we missed anything out? Please let us know in the comments below!

OhLife online Diary – Five quick uses

Posted: April 13th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: tips | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Keeping a diary is great, most especially for looking back over past entries. Maintaining a diary is the hard part, no mater the strength of your will power. It somehow feels wrong if you make an entry after the day.

For the past five months or so I have been using a service called OhLife. It is in short, fantastic! Every evening it sends you an email, which you reply to as your diary entry. It is completely private.

Two things then happen. The first is that this is uploaded into your own, confidential, blog, for you to flick through at any point you are online. Much more powerful than this though is that it also sends you random entries from the past, reminding you of things you have written about previously. It is a great little service which has helped me to maintain a private blog far more effectively than a public blog. OhLife has in some ways become a confidante to me.

With this in mind, I thought I would share some ways I have used it in part, and perhaps ways in which it could be used exclusively for you. I know some people don’t want to keep diaries or blogs, but these ideas might inspire you.

Progress on a project
I am building a rear extension in my spare (!) time, and it has been great to read back progress I have made when the email comes in. Projects of aty type often involve little steps of progress which are sometimes hard to measure, so if you were to keep a diary of progress made for a home or work project, OhLife might just be a brilliant way to track this.

List your worries
I find it fascinating that a huge worry you can have one day can dissipate within a week. Some brave souls might want to keep a worry diary. This might sound incredibly negative, but I think that the perspective which distance gives to a worry often alleviates it.

Write a non-fiction essay/ book
Fiction can be tricky to write in a non-linear fashion, and you would be better suited to another format if you were to use a diary service as an authoring tool, but why not use OhLife as a non-fiction book prompt. Do you have a hobby you could share, or something technical which would be useful to write down?

Some higher level degree courses now ask or require students to keep reflective journals, and OhLife would be superb for this, as well as a gentle nag to GET ON!

Record your dreams
Not for me, but I do have friends who love to consider their dreams. OhLife allows you to set up the time the email arrives, so you could have it appear in your in-box at 8am, ready for your last dream.

What did they say?!
With three small children, most days there is something funny said by an innocent voice in this house! My Mum kept a book for things we said as children, but an email diary would be great for this, plus you would get regular reminders of past quotes. You think you will remember these things, but they soon disappear, believe me!

I would be interested to know what others use the service for; if it is different to just a regular diary, please add it in the comments box below!

(I should add here that I have not been asked by OhLife to write, edit or publish this entry – but it has proved to be such a useful tool for many of the reasons above, I thought I would repay the favour of their free service!)

Apple TV and iplayer – TV on demand made easy

Posted: February 5th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off

For Christmas and my birthday (cruelly close together), I pooled any money gifts and bought the Apple TV unit. Tiny, quiet and effortlessly cool, this really is a brilliant device, and not too expensive either. Asked by a friend to describe it, I pitched it as:

“Play any movie, song or photo onto your TV from your computer, iPhone or iPad”

Of course, it does this very simply, but there are a few other things that it can do which aren’t so obvious, or even advertised, and I thought it would be worth a blog post to indicate these. Read the rest of this entry »

How to take money online quickly

Posted: May 26th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: tips | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

While there are some items and services which can’t be sold online, there are plenty with that capability. But which service do you choose to use? If you aren’t keen on Paypal, there are three options available to you which are really easy to put in.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why fiverr is great, and how it can help your business

Posted: May 26th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: services | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off


There is a new website on the block which is so stunningly simple, and yet enormously clever, I’d imagine there are lots of people kicking themselves at the moment that they didn’t think of it first.

Fiverr runs on a very simple promise – ‘what would you be willing to do for five bucks?’ You can pitch a ‘gig’, which is any small task that can be produced on line, over the phone or using a Skype call, you can buy a gig, or even request a gig. Want a cartoon of yourself? $5. Need a wordpress install? $5. Require an exercise or diet plan? $5.

The charm of this is that it is just above free. This means that people don’t get inundated with freeloaders and tyrekickers, filling their time with endless free tasks – by choosing a gig, you are paying for that, so it takes a little extra commitment.

I’d imagine for a lot of the people offering services, this may be something that they can earn a little pin money from. Fiverr itself takes $1 from each commission (20% – nice work), so it isn’t much.

The more savvy wil hoever be using this as an enticer – a loss-leader. I have created four separate gigs in the past week, charging $5 for something I might normally invoice for perhaps £30, but I have picked up two new clients as a a result, who want me to maintain their sites for them. Seth Godin says that the new advertising is the doing not the talking, so as I see it, by charging only £13 for £120 of work, I may be taking a punt, but it isn’t actually costing me much, just time. It is a great form of advertising.

So give it a think – how could you turn something that you are an expert at, into a gig? How might you then turn that gig into a contract or contact? How much is fiverr really worth then?

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