Sorry about the huge break in posts – there are reasons!

Wow, that was a long time since I last posted. Far too long. For that, I am so sorry.

Things have been really really busy behind the scenes over at Fuelmyblog. I have been working like crazy, flying back to the UK almost every week this year on Ryanair,and if you ever find yourself in Europe, they are such a cost effective way of getting around I fly from South West France to London for $30 return!! (carbon offsetting does take place)..I have also started a three times a week show on BlogTV with the great Paul O’Flaherty, soon to be of this fame. We have had a few guests on the show so far, the amazing Liz Strauss who is hosting a great business school for bloggers soon here and the talented Mr BusinessGolf, Scott took the stage too. The show is still in very early stages and really it is thanks to Paul that it is not an absolute shambles, he has an incredible interview talent and I would love to see him speaking to more amazing people, maybe you guys would like him to interview Stephen, Loic or even Mr Scoble? (I would love to see why they do what they do) Please drop me a fuel if you have any ideas on future guests.

The frustrating thing about some of this really exciting stuff is that I can’t really talk about all of them. Not yet. Sorry again! I can give you an insight as to what the site is going to be doing soon, I will write a separate post on where it is going and my vision for Fuelmyblog in the future, in fact if you guys could offer some assistance at any point, I’d be grateful. But I can’t tell you about the new “concept”.

I have been putting together a concept, an idea that is just so different and simple it promises to be (and will be) the biggest kind of non-online, online “thing” ever to hit the shores of the UK, then Europe, the USA followed by rest of the planet (I have NDA’s coming for those really wanting a sneak preview). Truly amazing. The only thing I can say now is that as soon as I can say more, I’ll do it here first! Our investors are not always the easiest to get excited but during our last board meeting I was offered almost a blank cheque! I suspect we won’t need any as I am talking direct to the CEO’s of major organisations and all have (so far) gotten excited (these CEO’s have over 40,000 employees to look after!). I can’t wait to tell more. If you own a website, are a journalist, a blogger or even simply a web user, you will love it. I promise.

So, what is going on at Fuelmyblog?

Right now based upon a keynote here delivered by Matt Mullenweg, we have developed a Facebook application for your blogs, it will show your URL (with link), it will show blogs you read (the fuelroll as seen over on the right) and it will look pretty cool and will be more useful than throwing a sheep..!  He also is talking on his blog about splogs at the moment and it is the reason we monitor every single blog that joins up, keeping it spam free.

We are changing the way you arrange the order of friends, by dragging them up and down freely.

Then comes the next big thing on Fuelmyblog, we are starting True Product Testing. We are going to let you lovely folks keep products in return for some honesty, “does it work?”, “is it any good?”..but you won’t be paid (you get to keep stuff) you won’t be asked to write positively and you will never be given a script. It is simply going to be called product testing 🙂 You will be able to opt in to be included.

Fed up with fueling blogs, is the process too slow? We have a sexy little solution for that too, it will make the process far easier and allow multiple fueling!

Oh and the friends widget will display your number of votes too!

So again, sorry for the absence, I will write much more regularly in here..I hope!

Hiring a Good Programmer – always a gamble

When I started fuelmyblog, I had no programming skills (some would say still have none!).

None.

If I could change anything in my life it would be to have somehow learned to during my early non-children years.. At my school, nobody had a computer, the Head Master still caned the bad kids and the nearest we had to programming was to write hello on a calculator (try it now, tap in the number 0.7734 and turn the calculator upside down).

So when I bought a script online for $30 to test if my fuelmyblog idea worked, I walked into a whole new world.

After a couple of email exchanges, I received a ZIP file in my emails with the text “script attached”.. Great. a ZIP file with thousands of components..I followed the tiny help file and got this:-

Warning: mysql_select_db(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL-Link resource in /home/kevind/public_html/header.php on line 12

Warning: mysql_query(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL-Link resource in /home/kevind/public_html/header.php on line 14
Access denied for user ‘db_user’@’localhost’ (using password: YES)

Meant nothing to me at all..after two days of loading, deleting, loading…the time had come, I needed help and fast!

I seem to remember googling “I need a coder”, I found a site that allowed me to write my request for work and then within minutes, people were haggling over the price to do the job. Not one of them seemed legitimate but in fairness I was at the end of my patience, I needed to see if my idea would work. Eventually a guy called Kanhai Patel from GudApps offered to do it for the best price, shortly after agreeing the fee, he sent me an email that said “The next step is you send us the script and also make an advance payment of USD 45”.

Hmm…would you have?

UPDATE DECEMBER 2009 – Kanhai Patel has scammed me and various others out of money, do not use this guy if you want to see a result for your cash, no idea what happened but after his first job, I used him again, totally took my money and ran. So don’t use Kanhai or Gudapps.  The reason for this update is due to being contacted by others scammed by him and I don’t want to be blamed for recommending him as this post has/did.

What could go wrong, three things. 1. They steal my money, 2. They steal my script and 3. They steal my idea. The final idea scared me most. I had been thinking about starting this idea for three months, to have someone steal the idea was worrying me. Hugely.

I was desperate..

I sent the upfront “sweetener” and we connected via Skype, Kanhai in India, me in France…one of those take a deep breath and slowly exhale moments.

It turned out to be probably the smartest move I ever made. Kanhai is a classy coder, quick and dedicated beyond belief. We talked as he coded until I passed out at 4am..I rose up again the next day at 7am, there he was, still coding. Eventually after 48 hours, Fuelmyblog, the test site was born, it had cost me 4 days without sleep or seeing anyone and just $300. I have kept in touch with Kanhai since and would recommend this guy to anyone.

Anyone who tells you they need $millions to see if a site works is a liar, you need energy, no sleep and of course living costs. The days, weeks and months after are the only major losses, and the cost of that is time.

If you are prepared to work 18-22 hours per day every day 7 days a week, you might have a chance, I had some money saved in the bank and was willing to gamble every penny of it. Was I crazy?

Up next meeting Ian Green..virtually.

An Online Brainstorm Session

Today I wanted again to post about meeting and finding my first coder but something just came up.  Something really exciting for Fuelmyblog and I would love some feedback.

We have been approached and have now accepted a sponsored weekly blog competition, the company (can’t reveal today, sorry) provide books, we have never worked with them before and have over the past few weeks established a really good relationship with them.  My idea is below, please do leave comments on whether you see it working or not, I’d appreciate ideas as we plan to go live on the 7th Feb 08.  I have listed each part as a bullet point to make it easier!

  • We shall, every Thursday, host a new random macro (very very close up photo) image.  We will be asking the bloggers what they think it is.
  • We will give one blog in fuelmyblog a clue to display
  • After a couple of hours, we’ll link on the fuel blog to the one with the clue.
  • The sponsor will answer questions to the clue through vote comments only.
  • After a couple of hours, the sponsor should have a lot of votes and be easy to find on the fuel front page!
  • Answers should be left via a comment on the fuelmyblog blog or via a vote for fuel (keeping the answers secret)
  • The people that guess this correctly will have their names put into a “hat” and we’ll host a live draw via an online video host on the Friday.
  • The winner gets either their blog printed as a book or a choice from the sponsors website.

Questions

  • Should the winner get to host the image next week?
  • Should the blogs taking part host the photo too, to get more help from their readers?
  • Should we make answers only via a fuel comment vote, ensuring just one entry per user?
  • Is it all too confusing so far?!

If the above makes sense, great!   We have 25 weeks of competition lined up so it should be great fun and bloggers can win more than once.
If it makes no sense, please voice your opinion below 🙂

Trains with Wifi

This blog is not going to read like a diary of events from day one of founding Fuelmyblog, that would make a great book!

I want to write about other experiences and findings that I feel either help the community or all of us in day to day life. My post today was going to be all about the first coder I found for Fuelmyblog. I’ll put that off until next time.

Right now I am sitting on a train at 10pm UK time traveling down from Wakefield back into London. Wakefield is in the North of England, you can see on the map below, the journey back to Hertfordshire (near London).   It takes around 2 and a half hours, and it is now 10pm.

map of Uk

What is so incredible for me is that now, I find myself working at 10pm (in fact I find myself working at 3am lots too!). In previous “real jobs” when I finished work at 5.30pm, I would now be collapsed in front of the TV, trying to put to bed the fears and disruptions the next day would bring.

Not now, I am traveling on a National Express train and have to say, it is really great. I feel compelled to write about them and their service. The coaches are clean, comfortable and “silent”, people are asked to turn mobile/cell phones to silent and respect others when they answer the phone. It is pleasant and the only sounds are the gentle tapping of laptop keys.  Right now, I have a vicar sitting beside me reading what looks like a bible, and another guy sleeping in front of me. The overall ambience is of total relaxation and strangely calming.

From time to time, a buffet cart passes by with the server quietly and respectfully asking if you would like anything. I missed my first train this morning due to a total lack of parking, instead of paying over £100 for a new ticket, the guy on the service desk managed to play with things and found me a way of only charging me £30.  Expensive but in fairness a good saving and something they didn’t have to do.  When you are miles away from home (right now, over a thousand) it is nice to feel relaxed and in control, National Express Trains seem to have created this.

Oh and the Wifi is free of charge..Yes, I am writing this using good solid Wifi at over 100 miles per hour, my ears are popping from time to time but the web is constant! I would totally recommend anyone visiting the UK to take these trains, you will not find a more pleasant mode of transport in the UK, by booking online you can make huge savings, I paid £30 return today, this can be found for as little as £18 return, which from London to Scotland could be a great deal.  If you book your train tickets on the day of travel this could cost over £200 each way..be very careful!  The site can be found here

Technology has enabled us to connect with one and other in ways it would never have been possible just ten years ago. I am glad that services such as trains are embracing technology and helping us stay connected, without the wifi, I couldn’t have said goodnight to the kids via webcam on Skype, had a chat with a friend in LA on twitter and emailed a guy in Australia.

This is not a sponsored post!  I just write about great service and things that I feel everyone should know about, if a service is bad, should I write about it or forget about it and never use them again? So please help me here, should I write about the odd product or service that is bad? Do you/Would you?

Next up..Kanhai, the coder from India..