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Toulouse, Biarritz and Rugby

I didn’t realise quite how much the French were into the founding spirit of rugby until I met Eric. He told joke after bawdy joke, in English,  as we sat eating Basque food in Biarritz with a couple of mutual friends. He then started relating back bits of monty python movies. It seems that to be a true rugby playing connoisseur in France you have to suck in a little bit of English university lads culture too and It it was very different to my memories of a France where people wouldn’t talk to you if you were from North of the Isle of Wight. Vive la France and Brian…Brian…go to your room…

I actually spent a little more than 2p getting flying to Toulouse (my last two flights cost me 2p and 4p to Newquay and Ireland) but it wasn’t a fortune. I was met at the Airport be a very talented photographer friend of mine called Rodolph who was nice enough to put me up. We teamed up with a girl he knows called Biata and hi tailed it (well, after some fine food and wine at the local restaurant) to Biarritz to watch a surfing competition.

Now I don’t know about you but I have always had trouble watching things like surfing. We have turned into a race of voyeurs who are happy enough to toast like ros bif on the beach to look a little more appealing for the plastic surgeon, but oh not me. I’m a man of action so in I went to the freezing Atlantic to dunk myself. It woke me up, cleared the remains of last nights beer from my system and reminded me why I haven’t done that since I returned from a three year stint in South East Asia ten years ago. It needed doing.

We decamped to the local restaurants that night and ate the fine Basque fare…cheeses you could frighten children with and lots of sea food, but the cider had to be the star turn. The locals swear by it but I did cheekily try to explain the merits of Strongbow…a bit like extolling the joys of a ginsters pasty in Cornwall, you’d expect an escort to the county line by a bunch or purse lipped lynch mobsters but no, I think they are going to come and try it.

I left my laptop in Toulouse as I didn’t plan on doing any work, but at one point, whilst back on the beach, I was sent a text by a customer saying they had no mail server. I had to sort it out so I went to the little surf village (it was the french leg of the world longboard tour so pretty well equipped) and voila, six laptops and wifi for the general public generously supplied by Orange mobile phones. So, from a beach in Northern France I managed to reboot a server in California that powers a website for a company in London, I may be getting nerdy but I love that stuff.

So, from the windy roads that are fit for Commander Bond, to the harbour of Arcachon where we managed to find an Irish pub on the way to stay at our friends place. Nowhere else was open and in this place we managed to catch them at last orders. ‘Non’ they said to our requests for ale. ‘But our guest is Irish and HAS to drink’ said Biata (our lovely sex starved Polish hostess). ‘Well of course we have to give him beer in that case’ was the reply so we feasted on yet more of the black stuff. My family is Irish but as for me I’m from London, but it’s good to pull out the family roots when needs are great.

Slauncha

Ireland for a musical feast..

Well the budget airlines are starting to come under scrutiny as the braying herd start to blame them for the worlds woes. This is one such case where an argument about the erosion of Machu Picchu turns into a discussion about taking long haul flights. We need to change a little more about the way we live than not taking too many flights..and perhaps go back in time to a pre industrial revolution because the third world is taking it’s turn at the sooty helm and they don’t care about middle class braying cos they have had enough of being poor.

One interesting fact is that even if the UK DID go pre industrial revolution the expanding Chinese would pick up the shortfall in merely a few years.

Meanwhile back at the ranch I took another flight costing less than 10p to the west of ireland and a buddies birthday bash. We had a lovely time surrounded by the best of traditional Irish music, where you feel included rather than a voyeur, where the party is everyone. I’ll pop a video up as soon as it uploads to youTube.

We also went to the flying boat museum at Foynes. The Irish coffee was invented here to keep pilots warm after chilly cross Atlantic flights, now what would the braying masses say about that, pilots getting wankered on whiskey to keep the chills off of them.

Newquay

Ryanair occasionally have deals where they pay all taxes on 1 penny deals around Europe, so whenever they do this I snaffle up a few cheap deals. You have to be quick to get some of the more popular routes, but using this flight checker makes things a little simpler.

Cornwall

So I got my arse out of bed at 4am and drove up to Stanstead. At that time in the morning the trains weren’t running so I took the car and stuck it in medium term parking. To do this make sure that you get back within 24 hours or they’ll sting you for the extra days. Now one of the reasons I take journey’s like this is because I love flying, not because I have any special affinity with plane spotters but because it has to be one of the best things you can do for less than a quid. I mean they take you up to five miles, you get to hang out and drink coffee then you come back again with a landing to rival anything at Thorpe park. There is that whole romantic ‘age of travel’ stuff too, but I’d find it hard to justify a linen suit on the am journey to Newquay so I’ll leave it at that. It’s A LOT of fun.

But this time the plane doesn’t want to land at Newquay. We get to within 50 metres of the runway and the pilot decides he can’t see anything due to the thick dense fog rolling in from the Atlantic. This is true and it’s good that in this age of hi tech gadgetry he finds this out by giving it a go and sticking his foot on the throttle as the plane is about to dump itself on the runway. So we turn back and land on the teeny weeny runway at Bournmouth where we land with a thump because apparently the pilots prefer to do this than overshoot (I was told this by some bloke sitting next to me so don’t take his word for it). We got a bus to Newquay, we were dropped off at the airport where I made my way to the cliffs for some windswept hiking. You can see me being windswept here.

The plane managed to land for the journey back in the evening, making the only disappointment of my day out being the fact that it was virtually impossible to get a good Cornish pasty in Newquay…next stop Ireland.

Busy busy busy

Well it’s good to be busy, but it doesn’t leave much time for boarding planes to sunny climbs. I even let my dive instructor qualification lapse this year which means I must be well dug in..but on the positive side we here at OpenG Active Media have been producing some lovely websites for people to get busy with.

The latest little number is The Movieum which I must admit is turning into more of a full time job, there is just so much going on in that grand old building by The Thames. I get to hang out with people like Bob Keene, indulge my movie making passions and get my hands on hi def cameras and it seems like a while since I swung a camera on the plymouth to Banjul challenge.

I am making good use of ryanairs cheap flights in April however. I booked two tickets return to Shannon for 4 pence, am flying to Touolouse for ten days and even booked up a day return to Newquay for the grand old price of tuppence. If anyone is thinking about my carbon footprint stop it right there.

For summer I want to get a Winnebago and a laptop data card, it’s time to take this gypsy on the road again.

Let’s get brave again

It seemed, not so long ago, that if you designed a website of more than 3kb one image and a contact form, you would be whipped by spec wearing nerds for being a web disgrace.

More than 6 years ago I was messing about with shockwave 3d sites, but at that time it would have taken a week to download the required bulk onto anybodies machines. I gave up and wheeled out the CSS like the rest of them.

Not so any more. Be brave seems to be the trend as peoples bandwidth expands like a chip fed navvy.

Let’s take a look at weird and wonderful. They are in the business of spectaculars and what better than a spectacular collection of websites to show this off. You can spin your way around their facilities using flash based 360 images, get a feel for the wonderful titbits on offer and all with a helping of 3d to finish off.

Not that they have been foolish with precious kb’s. Flash files are broken down into smaller parts as each is loaded separately as HTML would and all files have been cleverly optimised.

Let’s forget the days where we pulled in our belts and whipped ourselves for having a little fun.

Live it up again ;0)

Btw, we built the site…ahem..nothing wrong with a shameless plug now is there…

St Pancreas

I just went to visit that rejuvenated railway station that sounds like some holy monument to the stomach, St Pancras.

I must say that it’s a nice station!

I notice that there are a few London landmarks on facebook. London bridge being one, St Pancreas (with an image of a bowel to go with the added ‘e’ just to prove my poor spelling was on purpose) another.

St Pancras is spelled without the e. Poor thing.

I say!

Allez Les Blancs

I managed to squeeze myself into the back of a bar where I was the only English supporter, and shouted my fuzzy head off for the entire match. So much so that I am sure it gave the boys in white some much needed support.

We won.

There are some places to be on the planet at certain times..the Olympics, the birth of your child etc, This was one of them, and a certain example of the necessity of a gypsy lifestyle.

What a game. What an atmosphere.

Paris Rugby Tickets

I was out last night in St-Germain-Des-Pres where the good cheer and singing was refreshing. Well the singing was anything but refreshing but it was all in the best possible intention and this isn’t a welsh rugby match after all.

We are a confused bunch I must say. The English tending to sing Irish rebel songs in French bars to cry god for Harry, England and St George. Huzzah!

I haven’t got a ticket for tonight’s match. To start with a tried with little success…but after I saw that it will be more fun in the Paris streets or in a local bar I decided not to bother and spend the £500 on something more useful than a ticket. The Eiffel Tower has been decorated for the event with some huge video screens erected for the match to be watched on. That’s where we will go.

For the French this is a big match. The president has pinned his colours to the mast of rugby and he wants a mandate for change in a country that is experiencing economic changes on the scale of the UK in the eighties. There are also a lot of people who point out to the right wingers here that it is black and white people playing nicely together that wins for the good of France. A sporting win on this scale makes a difference, it is like ancient Rome in a modern setting.

A good game will make everyone winners, no matter who loses.

How to make money online

First, my fellow gypsies, we have to learn how to get some tools on the fly.

Now I am not going to espouse the theft of software in any way, but each to his own. I tend to think that if you try something out and you like it buy it, so it’s up to you if the trying comes before the buying, or you opt to put your hand in your pocket up front.

A great tool for searching for any kind of resource is called a bit torrent. I won’t go into it here, but let’s say if you get a tool called Azureus, you can open tiny little files that you find by going here www.torrents.to, and then you can download whatever saucy bit of software you care to mention. Just do it, you’ll get the idea.

Be careful what you download, so try a free anti virus like AVG from here and check what you get.

So.

If you want to get a website up these days you will need some hosting to start.

Now If you are serious about getting going on the web I’d opt for some serious server space. When you get a little up the ladder you might need to do all sorts of things that require you to have control of the nuts and bolts of your server. It is also good that you you can add domains as and when you please because you will get some whacky ideas. I find that I get more than 10 ideas out there before one of them starts working, and hundreds before I get one that actually pays the bills.

It is too costly to get your own server in the beginning, so try a dedicated virtual server...it is the budget way to get a professional start, and you can trade up when you need to.

When you get your server space you will need to get domain names. I find goddaddy.com cheap but full of bling, freeparking not quite so cheap but feels more professional.

Get yourself your first domain and learn how to point it towards your web space name servers. You only need to change a few bits of info to do this. It’s simple. READ THE MANUAL if you don’t know how.

It is getting too easy to do so many things on the web so that people are expecting it all to just happen, you need to learn how to get info from either the help files or from Google. If you can’t do that then backtrack and get the hang of LEARNING.

You will also have to set up a new space on your server. Again it is a simply a process. On my web space I go first to my account and tell it I want it to add another domain, then I have to go to my actual hosting and set up some space. First time it took me half an hour, now it takes a minute.

So. You have web space and a domain name pointing to it.

What you need now is a website to suit your purposes.

More important than any idea you have is learning how to make sure that your website is above all other websites in Googles search pages for the search terms applicable to you.

A great e book to read about optimising websites so that Google takes notices is by Aaron wall, but you can find out yourselves by hanging out on forums and by asking questions. In this field you will be up against people who have been doing it for a long while, so to get to the top of the search engines you will need to immerse yourselves in the language of the web.

Forums such digitalpoint.com, seochat.com, etc etc. There are many. Search in Google on SEO.

I am experimenting with getting to the top with the search term ‘Ethical SEO‘, so if anyone likes this article and wants show appreciation by linking to me using THAT EXACT PHRASE, I’d be most grateful. And that’s how you do it.

What you will learn is that it is best to have a well built website that has certain parameters fulfilled, some easy (construction) some difficult (getting other people to link to you with relevant anchor text).

Luckily these days you can get great website templates that fulfil the criteria for next to nothing.

Some are less good for SEO but rather pretty like www.easycommercestores.co.uk some are good HTML templates that work rather well for SEO like www.thetemplatestore.com

You will need something like Adobe Dreamweaver to edit these. You will learn the basics of using this program by editing your template. Learn to so this because asking other people for help every time you have a great idea will get to be more of a pain the arse as you get more ideas.

If you need to do anything more complex than simply present information, then you will most probably need something like a Joomla store. They are simple to set up on your hosting, so do not get put off by scary things like creating a database, that’s just a matter of pressing a button.

At this point there are a lot of different solutions around, so take a look. If you pride yourself on your fly nature then get the hang of hpw to use a couple of them, it’ll pay off. A free Joomla CMS can act as anything from a blog to an e-commerce store all for nothing but your time.

If it is a blog you want then WordPress has to be yer man. They are gorgeous bits of kit that can act as websites if you so need. It is best to get the version you host yourself by downloading the software from www.wordpress.org – you can get a hosted version but Google likes it when you make an effort and again, it gives you options.

WordPress has PlugIns that can make page titles Search engine friendly, and last thing I heard there was even an e-commerce plug-in. But I digress..

To monitor your website and how it is doing try the miriad of free SEO tools out there. Digitalpoint.com has a few, and there are some good SEO plugins for firefox. Search for ‘SEO’ when you go to the firefox add ons page.

Now all you need is an idea.

Then figure out what combination of tools best serves your idea.

For most ideas there is nothing better than a well built website using HTML and CSS where every page is optimised (great tool for checking text at www.ranks.nl).

I can almost guarantee you that you will mess up for a while, have your nose stuck to your computer screen waiting for Google to massage your ego and wonder why nobody is taking notice.

Whatever idea you have will be successful in a direct correlation to the effort you put in. Sadly for some this will put them off, the others take stock here and get stronger.

If you plug at it, don’t get disheartened when one idea doesn’t come to fruition and just get another started up, you will succeed, usually in a way that you wouldn’t expect.

The important thing is that you keep moving, that you carry on learning.

If you have an idea to get rich quick then try selling your arse. The internet is as competitive as any other field, and requires you full attention to get you above the billion other people who want to make a fast buck.

But when you succeed you can sit wherever you want on this big blue shiny beach ball of a world of ours and make yourselves a living.

Like me.

CG